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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Conflict? Ask Ken: The Escalating Stages of Unresolved Church Conflict (Part 3)


This article picks up where last week’s article left off.

7. A Person To Expel, Withdraw From, or Ruin  (other person focused, greatest intensity)
The parties are locked in an all-or-nothing battle. The church is no longer big enough for everyone. The solution is either to drive out the problem person or people or leave the church. Or, the conflict may be so personalized, intractable, or irrational that the adversaries would rather suffer private loss or the church's ruin to see their opponent defeated. “Together into the abyss” they go, as one individual soberly described it.

8.   The Aftermath
When the dust settles, the worship, fellowship, and the work of the church, as well as the individual lives of those involved are adversely affected, often for years to come. For some, winning the battle or driving a person from the church is still not enough. The ruination of a person's reputation may continue long after the battle is over. Another faction will express shame and bewilderment for what they have said or done. They may lose confidence in themselves for having lost control of themselves. Others will deny the depth or severity of their actions. Still others, acknowledging their embarrassing actions, will blame those who led them.

Pastor Joe McKeever, referring to his church that had split five ways in the two years prior to his accepting the call to pastor that congregation, commented, “I was especially careful during my first four or five years here. We spent a lot of time addressing the issues of guilt and disappointment. Many felt guilty for their actions. The rest were disappointed - in their friends, their pastors, themselves, even God.”

If your church is experiencing ongoing conflict, don't wait until it is too late.  Do as the Bible says, "pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another" (Ro. 14:19).  One of those things is calling upon the services of a peacemaker.  Jesus, after all, sanctioned such work (Mat. 5:9).

What are your thoughts about these stages of church conflict provided in these last three postings?  Have you seen them played out in a church you were part of?  What could have been done differently to have resolved the issues in a more constructive manner?  Please share your experience with the rest of us that we may learn from it.




Unique_help_1  © 2005 Kenneth C. Newberger
Ken Newberger, an experienced church conflict resolution and development specialist, earned his Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, has ten years senior pastoral experience, and is in the dissertation phase for his Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University, one of only two accredited doctoral programs of its kind in the United States. If your church needs help resolving conflict, if you need individual coaching, or if you would like to develop a communicatively healthy church,  please visit Ken's website  at www.ResolveChurchConflict.com  or call 301-253-8877.

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August 11, 2005 in Church Conflict | Permalink

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