Resolving Conflict among Church Leaders (part 3)

The last two blogs I have done have been on this topic, “Resolving Conflict among Church Leaders.” A sub-plot in all of this is to recognize when we, personally, might be part of the problem. Today, let me offer three more principles:

women-fightingPrinciple 2: Choose Your Battles Carefully, You Cannot Win Them All. You Cannot Even Fight Them All

Questions to ask:

  • Is this conflict over the well-being of the church or over something I find personally threatening?
  • Is this battle worth the emotional toll it will take?
  • Yearly question: Have we made progress in resolving leadership conflicts, or are the same old hot spots still there? If you are not making progress, just navigating minefields, you should either take action or move on.

Bottom line: You don’t have to win all the time!

Principle 3: A “Rogue” Board or Staff Member May Inhibit Your Church’s Growth

In the business world, an unconventional person may become a successful entrepreneur by forging his or her own way, making unpopular decisions, not listening to critics, rejecting anything traditional or status quo. However, this person, if put into church leadership, will wreck your church if he or she follows the same path.

In the case of staff members (particularly youth ministers), if they demonstrate an inability to get along with others (or a propensity to create conflict) and are resistant to evaluation that asks for change, it is time to part ways. Also, beware those who want to be elders because they have an agenda (such as fire the minister). Embrace those who want to be elders because they love the church and its people and want to serve it.

Principle 4: Church Leadership Functions Best If It Operates By Consensus

The worst possible scenario: Deciding a very big issue (especially if it involves spending a lot of money) by a 5/4 vote in a church board. The church is not a democracy, there is no biblical mandate to vote on everything. If you operate with a parliamentarian and a handy book of Robert’s Rules of Order, it is likely a sign of deep dysfunction. A church leadership, whether board or staff, operates best if everyone is on the same page. Consensus operates like this:

  • When an important decision is being made, it is talked through thoroughly. Opinions are just that: opinions.
  • Sometimes these decisions need time to mellow and mature.
  • When there is a consensus, the decision needs to be articulated by a leader.
  • After this consensus is reached (which will usually be some type of compromise), all the leaders need to support it.

I hope these are helpful. Three more to go.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College