Peacemaker confab designed to resolve church conflict
December 21, 2004
The mere mention of the word conjures up all sorts of negative connotations. As I travel the state working with churches I am finding more and more church members who feel worse when they leave the building than they did before they came. The reason is simple. No, it’s not the preaching, and it’s not the choice of music, it’s the conflict that is going on in the church. Many times it has been going on for decades. Most of the time, people don’t remember what the original conflict was about, all they know is that they have polarized into two or more groups that are at war.
Let me share some startling statistics. There are more than 19,000 major church conflicts each year nationwide. Eight million lawsuits between believers destroy our Christian witness. Some 1,500 pastors leave the ministry due to conflict every year. As disconcerting as these figures might be, the ripple effect is even more devastating.
We all have horror stories of churches fighting over the color of the carpet; who can serve on the kitchen committee; weather to pave the parking lot with concrete or asphalt. I heard of a church that was in dire need of a new roof, the problem was they couldn’t decide on what color the shingles should be. The congregation spiraled into a destructive conflict over the next few months until they realized that they were not going to come to a satisfactory conclusion. So, in order to calm all the fighting and bickering, the church voted that one side of the church would have white shingles, the other would have black. The next Sunday those who wanted black sat on the side that was shingled that color, those who wanted white sat under that color, and all was well. Well, not really. The conflict was far from over, it became entrenched and the church ended up closing its doors after 100 years of existence.
You probably think that is ridiculous, but someone else might think the things that rip at your fellowship are just as ridiculous. None of us can do away with conflict, but we can learn how to biblically deal with it. Enter attorney Ken Sande and the Peacemakers ministry. Sande regularly conciliates business, family, employment and church disputes, and serves as a consultant to pastors and attorneys as they work to resolve conflicts outside the courtroom. Ken conducts seminars throughout the United States and internationally on biblical conflict resolution. His book, The Peace Maker, A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, is in its third edition through Baker Publishers. David Clippard, executive director, Missouri Baptist Convention, is sponsoring a Peacemaker’s Conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort Feb. 24-25. The purpose is to introduce some of the concepts into the life of our convention and hopefully begin to incorporate them into the DNA of our churches. This conference is for leaders of those churches that are finding themselves in conflict that has become destructive. And, it is for leaders of churches that are trying to stay spiritually healthy in the midst of conflict. In other words, it’s for every leader in the convention who wants to learn how to effectively deal with the challenges and problems that arise in leading a 21st century church. While you might not find yourself sitting under the preferred color of shingle in your church, there may be other issues just as important to you, and you need some practical principles. If so, this conference is for you and your leadership.
A mentor of mine once said, “…you’ve just come out of a storm, you’re in one, or you’re about to go into one…” Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that you might have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” It’s a reality; let’s learn to deal with it. We want to help. I encourage you to begin by attending this conference, and then start the journey to effective Biblical conflict resolution.
If you are interested in attending the Peacemaker’s Conference contact the Leadership Development office, Rose Credille, ministry assistant, ext. 431. (Monty Hale is a Leadership Development Specialist with the Missouri Baptist Convention.)