Dr Gary Fenton says church conflict is a lot like championship wrestling - not nearly as painful as it looks! As a leader, you need to recognise the difference between: (1) Disagreement and conflict. Conflict exists when a group is stuck and can't make a decision. For example, two strong-willed church committee members had a spirited discussion, and the following morning a concerned young pastor met with them to iron out their differences. He asked them if they were ready to make a decision, or if their heated debate the night before had stopped them from moving on. After due consideration both conceded that while their discussion the previous night had resembled a street fight, it was more like a TV reality show, which is good theatre, but where the participants don't quit when things get heated!
(2) Reconciliation and resolution. Resolution is about coming up with answers; it's about bringing people into relational unity, not necessarily into agreement. The fact remains that while some issues will never be resolved, they can still be reconciled. It's in the process of seeking resolution that you learn to compromise and find middle ground.
(3) Being peaceful and being a peacemaker. A pastor who refused to get involved in church controversy was a constant no-show at board meetings. He justified his absence as 'the desire to be peaceful'. But being peaceful and being a peacemaker aren't the same. Peacemakers don't sit on their hands...they're in the thick of things trying to reconcile the parties...they're risk-takers who are willing to enter the fray with an expanded heart. That's why 'those who work for peace...will be called the children of God.'
Soulfood : Zech 9-11, Lk 23:13-25, Ps 34, Prov 24:29-31