Conflict. The very words make my back tighten and teeth clinch. The very subject is something we all wish was not part of life, but churches are comprised of people, and people have conflict.
Over my years of pastoral ministry, I’ve seen all kinds of conflict. Some have been serious, and some have been silly. No matter the level of seriousness, there are four typical responses to church conflict.
Pacifists often avoid conflict as much as they can. They show a low conviction for truth and love. They turn a blind eye to sin, and withdraw from fellowship. They wander from the truth themselves, and fail to love others deeply enough to correct them or encourage them to walk in the truth.
The protectors are nurturers by nature, and exhibit high degrees of love and care, but little conviction for the truth. Out of fear of hurting feelings or stepping on toes, they do not step up for the truth, but will go to any length to save the relationship. They are changed to their devotion to others, while losing their devotion to the truth.
The Piranha is a lover of the truth, but at the cost of loving others. They recklessly assert the truth, often without thought or timing. They are judgmental and self-righteous, usually acting before they think.
The peacemaker is one who loves his neighbor as himself, and is a lover of the truth. They are full of wisdom and knowledge, and are willing to say hard things to the ones they love, in gentleness and in love. They know a balance of love and truth is needed to maintain peace, and believe that while truth cannot be compromised, so truth cannot also be absent of love.
You know the typical responses. At this point, it is important to discern which response is coming from people in your ministry, then proceed with prayerful wisdom.
Source for the Outline: Church Conflict by the Book