Updated: May 11, 2021
By Deborah Bell
(Lead Apostle DGAN Global Network and DGFC churches)
(Originally posted 15 January, 2015)
How do we deal with conflict in the body of Christ, the Church? What does the Word of God say about it?
If we know what the Word of God says about it; how many of us,(leaders, Pastors or peers), actually use the word for conflict Resolution?
Conflict resolution was established in the word of God, for the people of God, long before any department of Human Resources was in place.
When we stray from the word, we stray from the GOD of the word.
What do you do when you are faced with conflict in your church environment or any
situation that would affect you or your ministry?
I believe one of the greatest skills lacking in both the Marketplace and the Church is
proper communication. If you have an issue, or if conflict arises, talk to each other!
Communication is a very big part of the formula, when it comes to building a healthy body of Christ.
I believe the church is first a community of believers. Barna research shows that most
people 78% of people view church as a community. In any given community, we are dealing with people from every side of life, rich poor, abused, neglected, rejected, spoilt, the sick and the list goes on. To say the least, it’s complicated! Therefore problems or conflicts are bound to arise, warranted or not. So much of how we “see” is what we perceive not always what actually is. The Church is no different. Like in any community or family, similar issues can and will arise in the Church. At at some point or other, there will be conflict in a team, no matter how “angelic” people profess to be. Sometimes that’s half the problem. :)
What would be “first prize”, is if the Church handled conflict well, better than our secular
counterparts. Why? Because we have Christ in us, who transforms our thinking, our hearts, our love for one another, right?
So it is imperative that we learn both as leaders and peers to deal with conflict in respectful open safe dialogue, and that our churches create the right environment for God’s Word to have the last say with all parties feeling that they are in a safe space. But the key to any conflict resolution is first off, COMMUNICATION!
The point being, that we must be those in the church that are taught to deal with conflict in a healthy way: God’s way, which is always about communication, no matter how difficult
that may be for some people, it’s essential for a healthy body of Christ or any organisation.
Why bother with all of this, you might ask? One good reason is because the Word calls us
to love one another with a deep love and as the Church surely we care enough about each other to want to resolve things because we hold dear the relationships and covenants God has placed in our lives.
Christ’s main ministry besides miracles, signs, wonders and the purpose for which he came for us, was a ministry of reconciliation. If his genuine love lives inside each one of us, we can resolve issues and love one another in spite of our differences. But if we let unhealed perceptions get in the way and cloud our judgement, God’s love has little chance. If we don’t move under the guidance of Holy Spirit, in God’s love and supernatural power, we will struggle and if we are struggling, we are not moving in God’s power and Spirit but in the flesh, the old way of life so to speak. There must be a
shift for there to be change.
Let me give you the key passage we are called to use for conflict resolution, found in the
book of Matthew:
Matt. 18:15-17 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and show them their fault, just
between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. (16) But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (17) If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church;a and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (NIV)
There is often too much assumption going on in the body of Christ and not enough talking to each other or sharing the truth in love. Ensuring all parties feeling safe to openly share, is vital to avoid a breakdown in our teams, our relationships, our friendships and with our loved ones. That doesn’t mean everyone will share but it helps the process!
This week, we’ll look at the first 4 of eight steps to guide us through the process:
1. Always assume the best of people. Don’t make any negative assumptions about what
anyone is feeling or thinking or saying. Ask them, talk to them; get the facts first. Getting
the facts can be the tricky part because here is where you have to be sensitive in how you approach people. Conflict resolution is about behaviour, not just a set of “how to’s” to get through a conflict situation. It’s about learning how to approach difficult issues with each other in the love that Christ has so freely given us. Not falsely, but earnestly and openly.
2. Be open to listen before you are ready to speak. So often we are quick to want to speak
and slow to listen the word says, but we are supposed to do the opposite. We are not here to win an argument; we are here to resolve together.
3. Be humble and teachable no matter what your “position”. Being teachable is not giving
up what you know, or what you want people to “think” you know, it’s about obeying the
word of God by having a spirit of humility, before jumping the gun. People seek
genuineness, not geniuses, in these situations. There is no place for arrogance, pride, or
stubborn heartedness (root of pride).
4. Ask questions and make sure you have the best understanding about the situation
before speaking. Even if the Spirit of the LORD comes upon you to prophesy in the
dialogue, or over that situation, first get understanding. Any legitimate word from the
LORD will stay with you if it’s meant to be spoken. Never assume people know what is
going on in your head or in your situation either. No matter how “gifted” people are in the
body of Christ, remember that people cannot read your mind. We have discernment as
God allows in the body of Christ, but we are not mind readers.
Next week, we will look at the remaining 4 steps of the conflict resolution