CHOOSING THE RIGHT RESPONSE TO CONFLICT
Different conflicts call for different responses. Many can be resolved quickly and easily. Some require decisive involvement of the church leadership. In other cases, the church will need to ask for outside help to resolve the conflict to avoid serious, long-term damage to the church. Answer the following 10 questions yes or no to determine which category your church’s conflict falls in.
- Do some people hold back from giving their honest views because they feel that those who hold different views do not want to hear what they have to say or for fear of being attacked?
- Are there one or more conflicts serious enough that they are hindering the church’s ability to make unified decisions on significant issues?
- Is bad behavior within the church--such as name calling, gossiping, showing disrespect to leaders, intimidation, quarreling, disrupting meetings, lying, insubordination, attributing negative motives to others, etc.--being allowed to continue without people being held accountable for their behavior?
- Has ongoing conflict become a hindrance to the mission and witness of the congregation?
- If so, has the church’s leadership clearly defined a process for dealing with the conflict? Is that plan being diligently implemented?
- In these areas, have you seen substantial progress on resolving the conflict during the past four months?
- Is the senior pastor perceived as being so identified with the divisive issues that he or she cannot be effective as a neutral facilitator in resolving conflict?
- Do a critical mass of your leaders agree that the situation is serious and urgent?
- Has the pain of not doing the hard work of change become greater than the pain of doing the hard work of change?
- Are your leaders committed to understanding the root causes of the conflict and doing the hard work of making fundamental changes to restore health rather than just “putting out the fires?”