|Type of paper:||Term paper|
|Categories:||Church Conflict resolution Conflict management|
Conflicts arise when members of a group disagree about a specific issue. Various underlying factors trigger or influence differences of opinion. Whenever there are disputes and arguments, it is the role of the leader to steer the individuals and groups towards resolution and harmony. The conflict resolution process aims to help the aggrieved parties to arrive at a peaceful and fair solution that accounts for the interests of all. In the church setting, it is the responsibility of the pastors to address conflicts. Pastoral leadership calls upon pastors to intervene when there are dissenting views that lead to fallouts. Given the challenges of resolving disputes, it is essential to explore the role of the pastoral ministry in conflict management and resolution.
Conflict in Church and Nature
Members of the pastoral ministry need to understand that conflict in a church setting is inevitable. The leaders, who serve in the church, as well as the followers, have different beliefs, opinions, and ideologies. Therefore, problems are bound to arise from time to time. In the Bible, books like 1st Corinthians capture the issues that exist in a divided church and how pastoral leaders should address them. Conflicts in church arise when people disagree with the leadership or amongst themselves. The concept of nature is evident when disputes occur due to blatant sinning in church. Consequently, when the church deviates from truth and uprightness, conflicts persist. Regardless of the type or nature of the conflict that threatens to split the church, pastoral leaders need to approach the resolution process with love and gentleness. Thus, the goals should be to enhance unity and not to win or advance individual interests.
Types of Conflicts in the Church
Different categories of conflict arise in the church setting. It refers to disagreements and disputes based on personal issues. People involved in this type of conflict include the leadership team, church members, and staff. There are various roles and duties that these groups play through diverse ministries. They serve the church and keep it running by carrying out different tasks. However, due to factors such as poor management, some people or groups tend to frustrate the efforts of others. For instance, disputes can arise when church members fail to agree on who should serve in a specific capacity. They can disagree over places in the choir and heading of bible study sessions. Therefore, when interpersonal conflicts persist, members take sides and use gossip or slander against each other.
Individuals may experience conflict when their beliefs and ways do not match Christian teachings. It is an intrapersonal conflict that pits a person's desires against what God expects of human beings. It is a contest between the sinful human nature and doing what is right according to the Lord's commandments. People who try to embrace the new way of life in Christ experience challenges in abandoning their desires and sinful practices. Due to the difficulty, they are likely to oppose leadership practices. Intrapersonal conflicts do not affect new believers only. Church members with personal interests may challenge pastoral leadership with the aim of dominating in the church. Given that it is part of our human nature to desire and seek our way, people resort to creating conflict in the church.
Substantive conflict is another type of conflict that affects the functioning of the pastoral ministry. The term refers to disputes that arise when the church leadership, staff, or church members disagree over issues such as vision and goals. For instance, a church committee may intend to pursue a project that will help in the maintenance and running of the church. They can suggest building a school that will impart religious and educational knowledge to children in the community. However, before the committee can gain approval and support from the congregation, substantive conflicts arise. Individuals and groups in the church often disagree on issues of budgeting. Others may oppose the idea of a school and suggest that the committee should set up a business. Thus, substantive conflicts impact harmony and peace in the church.
Addressing the Challenges
Resolving pastoral leadership challenges necessitates that pastoral leaders must possess unique skills. Failure to solve conflicts in the church can lead to fallouts that affect its stability. Pastors can address disputes by developing listening and communication skills. It is a process that entails creating time out of the daily schedule to engage with the congregation and staff members. Such an interaction presents a chance for the leaders to learn about potential causes of disagreements in the church. Besides listening to the ideas and arguments of the church members, pastoral leaders need to embrace effective communication tactics. They should relay relevant information to them in a concise manner to avoid gossip and speculations that trigger conflicts. Thus, by listening and communicating effectively, leaders can mitigate disputes.
A common cause of disputes in the church revolves around control issues. Church members often disagree over who should lead. Differences of opinion over a pastor and leadership styles trigger arguments. These disputes often escalate into heated conflicts when changes are made. In a setting where the congregation, staff, or leadership are resistance to change, pastoral leaders can attempt to settle the dispute by preparing them for the shift. Pastors can initiate conversations about the impending change. They can create a safe atmosphere that allows for two-way feedback to facilitate the expression of divergent views. Alternatively, they can rely on designated change champions to advocate and prepare the members for change. Hence, priests can mitigate conflicts about church leadership.
Pastoral leaders need to understand that culture influences conflict perception and response to resolution initiatives. Selecting the most appropriate conflict resolution approach or strategy will determine a leader's ability to address challenges in the ministry. There are different situations and underlying forces that fuel minor disagreements to escalate into major conflicts. Such disputes lead to the loss of church members as more people lose faith in the leaders. Pastors should be able to discern elements of culture that influence how church members react to authority, specific leadership, and communication styles. These include norms, education level, and personal experiences. Thus, leaders have to develop cultural intelligence to enable them to manage conflicts through effective conflict resolution strategies that do not alienate their followers.
Overall, conflicts in the church have existed for an extended period. It is an issue that persists even among the modern-day church. Individuals who serve in the pastoral ministry need to understand that conflict is inevitable. Some of the factors that cause disputes in the church include disagreements over leadership, the roles of different individuals, and the pursuit of personal interests that contradicts Christ's teachings. The effects of persistent conflicts that remain unsolved are a decline in the number of members and loss of vitality among congregants. Pastoral leaders are responsible for mitigating and resolving disputes that threaten the unity of a church. Through appropriate conflict resolution practices, they should strive to promote peace and harmony in the church.
Chu, Raymond Iao-Man. "Conflict Management Styles of pastors and Organizational Servant Leadership: A Descriptive Study." Repository.sbts.edu, 2011. https://repository.sbts.edu/handle/10392/2828?show=full (Accessed 31 October 2019).
Hicks, Donald Quentin. "A Study of the Conflicts within Churches That Lead to the Termination of Pastors within the Southern Baptist Convention, Accompanied by a Proposal of Preventive and Interventional Solutions." Digital Commons Liberty, 2010. https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/doctoral/408/ (Accessed 31 October 2019).
Ramirez, Andrea Reyes. "Impact of Cultural Intelligence Level on Conflict Resolution Ability: A Conceptual Model and Research Proposal." Emerging Leadership Journeys 3, no. 1, (2010): 42-56.
Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.
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