Tag Archives: Discerning God’s Will Together

What Churches Learn from Conflict

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Every church conflict is unique in many ways.  The mix of personalities, the history, and especially the specific facts and circumstances cover a huge range of possibilities.  But they all have some things in common as well.  As I “debrief” a church leadership team after having come through a difficult conflict, I am always intrigued by what they learn as a result of that conflict.  Intrigued, but rarely surprised anymore.  Because, generally speaking, I hear variations on the same lessons over and over again.  “What regrets do you have?” I will ask them.  In the instances where we actually came through with success, I almost always hear the same regrets.

Church Leaders’ 3 Most Common Regrets from their Conflict:

1.  “I wish we had built stronger relationships.”

No surprise here, right?  There is a lot of talk these days about the fact that the church is not a building, it is people.  I agree with that, but I disagree with saying it quite like that.  The church is not just people…it is people living in relationships with each other.  The key is the relationships.  It’s one thing to get a bunch of people attending a weekly “show” on Sunday mornings.  But if they are not in relationships with each other, they are no more a church than the theater full of people all attending the same movie.  What makes it a church is the relationships between the people.  And what destroys the church is when the relationships fall apart.  Relationships, then, are the very “fabric” of the church.

When church leaders look back at a season of severe conflict, they almost always realize that much of the attention, emphasis, energy and …

Making Our Words Count

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

“After much discussion…” Those are the words we use when we’re writing minutes of a business meeting and there was a lot of discussion but not much said.  When we write, “after much discussion…” it means there were plenty of folks who had something to say on the subject, but it wasn’t important enough to quote any of it here in these minutes.  All that matters for posterity’s sake is…and then we put the results of the vote.  From time to time, a comment is made that is important enough to put in the minutes, and we do so.  But otherwise, we just write, “after much discussion…”.

The kinds of comments which end up being represented by “after much discussion…” are many.  Some of them are way off the subject, irrelevant remarks which do not further the decision-making process at all.  Some of them are personal in nature…too personal to memorialize forever in the meeting minutes.  Some of them are nothing more than emotional venting…perhaps important for a particular person’s process but not at all helpful for the entire group.  But all of them have one thing in common: From a long-term perspective of knowing how we came to this decision, they were not important.

In my experience dealing with conflicted congregations, We are not doing a very good job of teaching our churches a decision-making process which honors the Lord.  Specifically, when it comes to discerning together what the Head of the church (Jesus) is calling us to do, we do not get very high scores in terms of the processes we use.  Most often, the vast majority of the words we use in staff meetings, committee meetings and …