Q: What is the “Acts 15 Model for Redeeming Church Conflicts”?
Taken directly from Scripture (Acts 15), we have organized “Redeeming Church Conflict” according to four main sections: Eternal Perspective, Discernment, Shepherd Leadership, and Biblical Response. You can view a video of us discussing “The Acts 15 Model” by clicking here.
Q: We are familiar with the concepts of managing church conflicts and resolving church conflicts, but what does “redeeming church conflicts” mean?
Redeeming church conflicts means intentional dependence on the humbling and heart-changing grace of Christ’s Holy Spirit by turning relational crisis into compassionate care as you take every thought captive to Him.
Q: Isn’t the goal when facing church conflict to simply bring it to an end as quickly as possible so things can get back to normal?
Redeeming church conflict is less about resolving specific problems than it is about seeing conflict as a means by which God is growing his people into true saints, true eternal children who are being continuously conformed to his holy image.
Q: What is one “common denominator” you have experienced in your years as church consultants working with churches in conflict?
We are unaware of any church that has successfully resolved its church-wide conflicts without first going back to the basics of what the gospel message is, its implications for faith and life, and God’s statement of purpose and mission for his church.
Q: What is one core concept you teach church leaders in Redeeming Church Conflictsas you help them to respond to conflicts in a biblical, God-honoring way?
Redeeming church conflicts requires the reframing of the conflict into eternal (“best”) questions.
Q: Group conflicts in the church can become very heated because an atmosphere of “them verses us” and competition to win begins to overtake other considerations. What is a sure sign that a conflict has been allowed to deteriorate to the point where serious long-term relational damage may occur?
In a church conflict we can know for certain we have lost perspective if we begin to take matters as personal offenses. Conversely, if we see so-called “opponents” with eyes of compassion, we can know God is working in us to redeem this conflict for his glory and our growth.
Q: In light of the last question and answer, when can church leaders and members alike know that they are regaining a biblical perspective on their conflicts?
In a church conflict, we can know we are on the path of healing discernment if we find ourselves spending more time listening than speaking. Further, as we carefully form and ask questions seeking group health rather than merely advancing a personal favored solution, evidence emerges that God’s work of redemption is advancing not only his interests but also our holiness.
Q: In Redeeming Church Conflicts, you speak of the opportunities individual church members have to become leaders. What does that mean?
In a church conflict, if we embrace our personal and individual responsibility for leadership (and followership) within each of our own personal spheres of influence, we gradually become group problem solvers and increasingly turn away from mere narrow personal agendas. The more we see ourselves as shepherd-leaders (and faithful followers) serving others among God’s flock, the greater the opportunity for creating an environment from which peace will flow.
Q: In your experience as church conflict consultants, what is one of the biggest mistakes you have seen churches make when trying to respond to their conflicts?
One of the biggest mistakes people make in church conflict is failing to trust Scripture. In a church conflict, as we remember that Christ loves his church more than we ever will and that he has paid more for it than we ever will, our confidence in the Bible and our commitment to faithfully pursuing biblical responses to conflict will be clear and steadfast.
Q: We live in an era where everyone demands guarantees of “success.” What do you mean by “success” when you help a church respond to its conflicts without undermining your commitment to God’s sovereignty over outcomes?
At the end of our time serving on a conflicted church intervention team, we describe our efforts as successful if every person involved in the church conflict can say: The Word of God was faithfully proclaimed. I am more confident in who God is and I see more clearly how he calls me to demonstrate my love for him by my obedience to him and my love for fellow Christians. I recognize that no matter how personal this church conflict feels, it’s not all about me. This is God’s church and I have a role to play in contributing to the God-honoring resolution of these conflicts and the promotion of the unity of the saints.