Conflicts in the Church
by David Cariaga
It is so nice to be in an organization especially when the common goals and objectives are so clear and we join hand in hand together to achieve those goals. When we know the church is toward obeying God’s command, the work, sacrifices and joy of being part of the church is so great. But there can be no perfect organization as we are aware that organization is composed of imperfect people. Conflict is a common thing to experience as the years go by. We rub elbows with others and sometimes causes “friction” not even considering as we easily forget that we came from different families that created us to have different personalities. There can always have small or big conflicts and all of these can never be avoided. However, there are ways to determine the causes of conflict and with a heart willing to improve and easy to forgive, conflicts are “nothing” and so easy to overcome.
Stephen J. Cole says, “If we want true and lasting peace in our relationships, then we need to resolve conflicts God’s way. His way for resolving conflicts is not to give surface techniques that achieve outward peace. Rather, God goes for the heart – primarily our heart relationship with Him. When our ways please Him, then we have a foundation for resolving conflicts with others.” (Bible.Org: James- Lesson 16 Resolving Conflicts God’s way)
The attitude of indifference, pride and selfishness are usual causes of conflicts. I remember long time ago my father who is a preacher pioneered a congregation and organized men to help build the church and was just later divided because of pure envy. Envy on the part of the person who cannot see the effort being made and wanted to destroy the entire brotherhood. I know that “Envy is so disastrous to man.” So, one day, my father just walked away with heavy heart and left the church to start another work than fighting it out to divide and destroy the Lord’s church. Not so long years have passed, my father’s work flourished and all the brethren who did not join him came later and peacefully joined to see the work of the Lord grow. I saw that there was willingness and forgiving spirit among each other to continue the cause of Christ except for the envious man who never repented.
The Bible says, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:5-10)
God fearing and loving churches resolve conflict with minimal damage to durable relationships. But belligerent congregations allow conflicts to aggravate and magnify. They never search for resolution and often add new conflicts to their existing problems. But the “trying hard-Christians” settle all conflicts, with an open heart to submit to God. So, we have an open space in our heart to accept forgiveness and willingness to forgive. We sincerely obey our Lord when we go against the devil and be remorseful of our mistakes.
I strongly agree with James D. Wilkens in his short article saying,“The powerful aspect of prayer must also be constantly interlaced with all conflict management procedures. Prayer is more powerful than all the management skills put together. Not only will prayer empower and help the leader go forth with a positive attitude about managing church conflict, but it will enable the facilitator to determine what the end result should be.Wise leaders recognize that Christians need not destroy the church and each other. They find ways to manage conflict. They use the power of prayer along with God-given skills to accomplish it.” (Managing Conflict in a smaller Church)
Brethren, when we solve our problems peacefully, it brings unity and brings positive impact to all and to the community around us. Healing is so wonderful and we hope we can learn from the past conflicts. We become prayerful, stronger and better in dealing with problems especially when “we focus our minds above.” Look, we are children of God and our God is a God of peace and harmony (1 Corinthians 14:33).
David Cariaga is the pulpit minister at the Convoy Avenue Church of Christ, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.