The board meetings have begun to sour. Increasingly the pastor and his board have heated conversations about the church’s direction. The conflict has bled into every meeting for months. Emotions are running high. Conflict reaches a flash point. There is no written plan on how to deal with it. What happens? The board either sends the pastor packing or he quits out of frustration. A rarity? No. Over 1500 pastors are forced from the ministry each month and many more pastors simply quit because they’re broken. Many are pondering leaving right now. What can a board or pastor to encourage biblical conflict resolution? That’s the focus of this post.
When emotions run rampant among pastors and boards, thoughtfulness seldom prevails. Our emotional brain hijacks our thinking brain.
So what is the solution to this problem? A written, clear, agreed-upon conflict resolution process. Here are 5 reasons your church needs one.
- Simply quoting Matthew 18:15-17 on dealing with conflict often doesn’t cut it. Although it’s the basis for conflict resolution, it’s seldom practiced without specific written guidelines.
- When we’re emotional, we don’t think clearly. When that happens we need something objective that is not open to interpretation, something that specifically explains the process how board-staff or staff-staff conflict can be resolved.
- Such a policy can often result in a more redemptive resolution to conflict than knee-jerk reactions like firing or quitting.
- We are called to model to the world love for each other (John 13.34-35). How we respond to conflict often conveys just the opposite.
- When we solve conflict in a God honoring way we embody unity, what the Scriptures often command us to seek. Ephesians 4.13 says, Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
I highly recommend the organization called Peacemakers to help you craft such a policy. Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker, founded and leads this organization. Every pastor should read his book.
They also offer training and have produced some excellent materials you can use to teach your church and leaders. Check out this link for their resources.
Does your church have a conflict resolution policy? If not, what would be a good first step to create one?