Every church will experience conflicts. If properly approached, church conflicts can be used for spiritual growth for both individuals and entire churches. Redeeming church conflicts—making something glorious out of something painful—provides evidence to a watching world that the gospel is real and powerful.
In this hope-filled and practical book, together with my friend and coauthor, Dave Edling, we explain how the Acts 15 model of approaching conflict provides a clear, godly way for church conflicts to be redeemed. The content is appropriate for both ordained leaders and laypeople, and we include questions for reflection and recommended resources at the end of each chapter.
Dave and I explain our Acts 15 Model in this brief video:
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To learn more about Redeeming Church Conflicts, we invite you to participate in our RedeemingChurchConflicts blog, read our endorsements and frequently asked questions, and also view Ken Sande’s foreword and video endorsement.
In Redeeming Church Conflicts Tara Barthel and David Edling draw on their extensive experience helping brothers and sisters resolve serious divisions in ways that bring glory to Jesus, the prince of peace. Perhaps even more important than the wisdom they have gained from walking with congregations through conflict are the insights that they draw from God’s Word itself and their confidence that a deepening grasp of the gospel of God’s grace sets hearts free to seek and grant forgiveness and to find the humility to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Believers and church leaders should read and take to heart the wisdom offered in Redeeming Church Conflicts not only when conflict threatens our congregations, but also when peace prevails.” – Rev. Dr. Dennis E. Johnson, Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Seminary California and author of The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption and multiple other books
“Have your staff and entire church read this book.” -Tim Lane
With years of experience in conflict mediation through Peacemaker Ministries, Tara Barthel and Dave Edling are well qualified to speak to this issue. Structured around the ‘Acts 15 Model for Redeeming Church Conflicts,’ Barthel and Edling suggest we have much to learn from Luke’s account of the meeting in Jerusalem to redeem the early church’s first major conflict. The strengths of Redeeming Church Conflicts are many. Here are five that particularly stood out to me: The Primacy of God’s Word, The Centrality of the Gospel, The Necessity of Humility, The Context of Eternity, The Preciousness of God’s Glory. According to Barthel and Edling, the question of supreme importance is, ‘How can I please and honor the Lord in my church’s present conflicts?’ (175). They are exactly right. Barthel and Edling have done the church a vital service in applying biblical counseling principles to the realm of congregational conflict. Don’t wait until you find yourself in a relational mess to consult this helpful resource; read and benefit now.” – Matt Smethurst, Managing Editor of The Gospel Coalition, as published in the 9Marks Journal
Conflict is inevitable and Peacemaker Ministries is prepared to equip you to respond. I am excited about this new resource that is specifically applied to dealing with conflict within the local church. Tara Barthel and David Edling do the body of Christ a significant service in Redeeming Church Conflicts: Turning Crisis into Compassion and Care. As a former pastor, I commend this helpful, practical resource to you. Have your staff and your entire church read this book. It will go a long way in creating a culture of peacemaking in your church.” – Dr. Tim S. Lane, Founder, The Institute for Pastoral Care
“This book delivers exactly what is needed in church conflict: a wealth of biblical wisdom, professional expertise, and a huge dose of hope.” -Nancy Guthrie
Church conflicts are a shameful thing—they hurt, divide, and besmirch the name of Christ. This volume does more than lament the problem. It digs deeply into the experience of the New Testament church to discover a model of forgiveness and redemption that can help the witness of the church to shine once again. May this book help to spawn a whole generation of Acts 15 churches.” – Dr. Timothy George is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture
I pray that you will study this book carefully and apply its principles in your church with the love and power of Christ. In doing so you can redeem church conflict, turning it into an opportunity for growth, worship, and kingdom expansion.” – Ken Sande, founder of Peacemaker Ministries; author of The Peacemaker
Table of Contents
SECTION 1: PERSPECTIVE (Acts 15:2-4)
1. When Sharp Disputes Begin in the Church
2. Seeking the Wisdom of Others … Is That Wise?
3. Eternity Makes a Difference
4. Actions, Desires, and Beliefs
SECTION 2: DISCERNMENT (Acts 15:5-7a)
5. Much Discussion and Debate
6. Asking Best (Not Just “Right”) Questions
7. Working with Church Groups
8. Moving from Spiritual Blindness to Sights
SECTION 3: LEADERSHIP (Acts 15:7-35)
9. Christian Duty within the Church
10. Shepherd Leadership
11. Biblical Followership
12. Accountability We Should Cherish
SECTION 4: BIBLICAL RESPONSE (Acts 15:11, 16-18)
13. How Can I Glorify God in This Mess?
14. Owning My Contribution to Conflict
15. Speaking the Truth in Love
16. Forgive as Christ Forgives
CONCLUSION: The End of Church Conflict is Never the End (Acts 15:36-41)