KNOB NOSTER – Conflict, opposition and struggle is not the picture the church wants to present to the community, however, many of today’s churches are doing just that. David Noble, bivocational pastor of Heartland Church here, has a ministry to serve churches working through conflict.
“Church conflict is inevitable at one level or another,” Noble said. “It is important for churches to prepare for it with a shared biblical perspective.”
Dealing with conflict is important for the church. “The glory of God must be manifested in the local church,” Noble said, “and this will not happen unless the conflict is resolved. Conflict also produces an inward focus. The congregation will lose sight of its purpose, the eternal mission of carrying out the Great Commission effectively.”
Noble assists churches in identifying the source of conflict as they deal with it. “There is amazing similarity between various church conflicts,” Noble said. “Human nature or sin nature is the same among all people, and Satan uses the same tactics. He has a limited toolbox.”
Noble uses a PowerPoint that includes reasons why some churches have experienced conflicts. These reasons act as an alert for potential points of conflict.
“At a lot of churches,” he continued, “the conflict has a trivial source when it originates with the ownership of a ministry. It can begin in the church kitchen and escalate.”
According to Noble, the health of the church can be influenced by conflict when individuals don’t take personal responsibility to do Matthew 18. “The conflict is worse with ‘triangulation’,” he said. “The church member does not go directly to the person that is the source of the problem, but talks to a third party. Instead of following Scripture, they make it a prayer request or gossip.”
Noble discovered a way to use technology to make consulting affordable for all churches, even small churches with limited budgets.
“I’m able to reach smaller congregations through my website, (www.churchconflictsolutions.com),” he said. “I can come alongside churches with limited resources with videoconferencing. Being virtual also makes it possible for sessions at different times of the day: morning, evening and weekends because many of the church leaders prefer to meet at these times.”
Since Noble is doing a lot of his ministry through the web site, he is also able to broaden the scope of his reach. “People are using their computers for everything,” he said. “So, this is helping with reducing travel. I’m able to use technology to reach more and smaller churches.”
Getting to the core of the conflict is important to resolving the issue. “It is really important for me to walk alongside the pastor in the conflict,” Noble said. “We need to get to the bottom of heated conflicts, we need to examine the heart and motives behind what is done and said.”
“Resolving conflicts requires a spirit of openness and brokenness before God,” Noble continued. “Love for those in the church transforms our own feelings. Even if someone has done wrong, church members need to come to a point of seeing the other as a needy person, a person needing love and grace coming from you. Then, God can work.”