October 25, 2023

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Handling Conflicts in Congregations

While unity is the ultimate goal for any congregation, is it possible to have a conflict-free church on earth? As Revelation 12:7-9 reminds us, even heaven wasn't devoid of conflict.

Understanding Conflict: A Struggle for Limited Resources

At its core, conflict arises from a perception of competition over scarce resources. Whether these resources are tangible, like money or land, or intangible, such as respect, power, or attention, individuals or groups vie for a limited supply, leading to tensions and disagreements. This competition can manifest in various forms and intensities, ranging from mild disagreements to violent confrontations. 

Understanding Conflict A Struggle for Limited Resources

Conflict is not merely the presence of friction but the culmination of underlying needs, desires, or values clashing due to the inherent limitation of what is sought after. As such, understanding conflict requires recognizing the deeper nuances of human desires and the lengths we might go to when what we value appears threatened or unattainable.

Conflict: A Catalyst for Change and Growth

In the realm of human interactions, particularly within the sacred walls of our churches, conflict is often perceived with trepidation. Yet, what if we were to reframe our perspective and see it not as a sign of discord but as an opportunity for evolution? Every disagreement or misalignment of views need not culminate in a fracture within our spiritual community. Instead, these moments of tension can be transformed into bridges leading to transformation.

Conflict A Catalyst for Change and Growth

Firstly, by navigating through conflicts, congregations can better understand one another. It exposes each member's diverse tapestry of thoughts, backgrounds, and experiences, making the church a richer and more vibrant community. By delving into these differences, congregations can better appreciate the multifaceted nature of faith and spirituality.

Moreover, facing conflicts head-on can lead to fortified relationships. Just as metal is tempered by fire, so too are human bonds strengthened when tested by disagreements. When two parties can move past a conflict and find common ground, their relationship often becomes more resilient than before, having weathered the storm together.

Lastly, conflicts present a unique chance for enhanced collaboration. As members come together to find solutions, new channels of communication are forged, fostering a culture of open dialogue and collective problem-solving. This collaborative spirit not only resolves the present conflict but also equips the community with the skills and mindset to handle future disagreements constructively.

In essence, when approached with the right intent and perspective, conflicts can be the tools that propel our church communities toward a more unified, understanding, and resilient future.

Response Styles to Conflict

How we respond to disagreements is crucial. Some might:

  • Accommodate by yielding to others.
  • Compromise by seeking a middle ground.
  • Compete by asserting their opinions.
  • Avoid the conflict altogether.
  • Or, ideally, Collaborate by merging insights from different perspectives for mutual satisfaction.
Response Styles to Conflict

The Path to a Harmonious Church

  • Embrace Diversity: Recognize the value each member brings, and always work towards understanding.
  • Enhance Conflict Intelligence: Understand your triggers, listen actively, and be self-aware.
  • Engage in Collaborative Ventures: Joint projects and activities can strengthen bonds and reduce the space for misunderstandings.
  • Seek External Help: Engage in conflict coaching, mediation, or attend workshops to improve conflict management skills.

In conclusion, while a conflict-free church might remain a hopeful ideal, what's more important is how we navigate the conflicts that do arise. By collaborating, understanding, and always placing relationships before being right, we move closer to a church that embodies Christ's love in every interaction.

Facing a conflict in your Church? We can help. Our well-being intelligence curriculum offers a range of training and education topics for groups and congregations to help reduce stress and tension so your congregation can work collaboratively towards a common goal.


About the author

Joyce Odidison is a Coach, Mediator, Facilitator, Keynote Speaker, and Thought Leader of the groundbreaking Well-being Intelligence Curriculum. With a career spanning over 27 years as a Conflict Analyst, Professional Trainer, University Lecturer, and Master Certified Coach, Joyce helps organizations solve difficult challenges and transition into psychologically safe workspaces that promotes inclusiveness and well-being. As President and CEO of Interpersonal Wellness Services Inc., she has designed transformative training sessions and curricula for her clients, as well as some offered exclusively through her company, such as the Global Workplace Wellness Summit and an ICF Approved Coach Training program. She can be reached at https://interpersonalwellness.com

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