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Resolving Inter-church Conflicts, Part 2

April 13, 2006

I am still wrestling with the question of Inter-Church Conflicts .

It seems that there is a certain amount we can do toward unity, but God must do the rest. (Note that Jesus asked God that we should be one in John 17). Perhaps in some cases God must prepare the way for reconciliation before our efforts can succeed–particularly in the case of conflicts between large groups.

On the individual level, I do think that we have to make the effort without delay. Matt 18 requires the offended party to go through the three step process. Also, the offending party is commanded to leave his gift at the altar and to go and be reconciled.

In either case, for successful reconciliation there must be two willing parties. If one party is not willing to reconcile (after the appropriate process), perhaps we are to treat him as a sinner / tax collector (ie someone to be avoided) while God works to bring about a change. In the group scenario I think we avoid them not for the purpose of punishing them, but to avoid further conflict.

Sometimes part of one group is willing to reconcile, but their reconciliation would create a rift with others of their own group who are not prepared to reconcile. The objectors may feel that the reconciliation does not fully address their issues (“You cannot speak for me”). Or they may feel the effort is a distraction from what the church should be doing. Sometimes bridges have been burned and there is an unwillingness to be humble.

When there is a lack of consensus within a group about pursuing reconciliation, I think that the reconciliation should proceed on the individual level anyway, as a matter of principle. By example and teaching the others can be called to do the same. If they do not, then perhaps the rest must be left to God. But it would be so much better if everyone could be brought along together to be reconciled.

I would still love to hear of processes that have worked (or not worked) in such situations.

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2 comments

  1. I know from my own experiences that some people just can’t see conflict. I have put it right in their faces and they choose to think it’s everyone but them. I was told by someone after I went to her, that my issues must be with the others. AHHH! I let it go when this happens. I have walked away from ministry work over conflicts. No, I don’t walk away from ministry work completely just the one that makes me miserable.I wonder how many good volunteers are lost because of conflict. How many people leave a church because of the fact that it’s just so hard to sit and not want to yell LOOK AN ELEPHANT!? I know I’ve wanted to on several occasions. Here’s the thing being COC we have the men leading. (I know the women have a lot of ear power at home) I don’t always agree with the decisions they make, in fact I’ve been rather loud about it at times. Humans are human we have our self centered attitudes we think what we feel is more important than anyone else at times. So how to handle it? Got to the problem? Keep our mouths shut? Let it go? Let me know when you find out.


  2. Unfortunately churches are not immune to the same problems that disrupt most groups of people who attempt to work together. Clashing personalities and personal agendas all to often cause dissension and hamper the goals of any group trying to work together.There will always be inter-church conflicts regardless of our attempts to reconcile those who disagree. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and mediate problems between our brothers and sisters, but other than the scriptural procedures for reconciliation, and a great deal of prayer, what other answer is there?Just because we are a church does not exclude Satan from entering the flock and causing havoc by promoting envy and strife. Being able to identify sinful behavior and attempting to reconcile differences between the brethren is a tough job for any elder.Remedies that work in one church, or in one circumstance, just may not work in a different setting with different personalities.



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