The Art of Conflict Resolution

One fascinating aspect of being formed in God’s image is the ability to create. We are each an artist in our own right, experiencing purpose and fulfillment when expressing our ideas in ways that contribute to the improvement of our family, work, and society. We are many parts, but one body: the Church.

Endangering this unity, and promoting isolation, is an aversion to conflict. It makes sense: disagreements are uncomfortable. As such, dialogue faces extinction, and in its void rises the monologue — a fixed viewpoint that doesn’t allow for any discussion. [1] When this happens, for example, disputes among the children’s leader and parents, or other ministry leaders, about the curriculum go unresolved. Youth leaders avoid awkward teens. And senior leaders neglect necessary changes to satisfy dissenting church members. However, this is not God’s design for his body. Even internationally successful corporations, like Pixar, practice the art of conflict resolution by welcoming discomfort and spending energy identifying and resolving problems. [2]

We are called to “do everything possible… to live in peace with everybody,” and to “watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary” to the ways we’ve been taught (Romans 12:18; 16:17, respectively). Healthy churches know to encourage dialogue that gets to the heart of the matter. They acknowledge the reality of conflict and embrace the following 4 values:

Humility. Numerous thought leaders divide the word “responsibility” to read “response-ability.” Any time conflict occurs, our first response should be to assess and admit our part — even if it’s minuscule. Think: being quick to listen, slow to speak (James 1:19).

Love. During the conflict, it’s tempting to believe the other person is your enemy. As a starting point, decide in advance to believe the best about their motive. And remember, conflict is often not about you. Read that again: the conflict is often not about you personally.

Patience. It takes time, but conflict resolution actually preserves connection. It’s more beneficial to discuss discrepancies immediately and live in a season of discomfort, rather than allowing time for unresolved negative emotions to fester. Give it time, offer long-suffering, and model gracious love as discussed above.

Protection. Scripture calls us to guard what is holy, to protect the vulnerable from abuse. This means being willIng to concede our personal preferences to express care and concern — protection — toward others. There are times to fight for your beliefs but choose love over being right. [3]

When we deliberately address conflict by choosing connection through humility, love, patience, and protection, we shift the conversation from being personal to productive. Freeing the church to effectively influence individuals, families, and communities for the Kingdom. For eternity.

[1] Gen Z: the Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the next Generation. Barna Group, 2018.

[2] Catmull, Ed. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[3] Goff, Bob. Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People. Thomas Nelson.

WellConnected is an initiative of OneHope, and is a gathering place for children and youth ministers to access resources, research, and content to raise up the next generation. It’s a collaborative platform to equip leaders and influencers to effectively reach the kids in their communities. We invite churches and ministers to join one another in coming up with innovative solutions for today’s realities. We are continually learning and growing from each other — sharing knowledge, insight, and best practices.

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4/14 Africa

4/14 Africa

We are committed to reach, rescue, root, and release this emerging generation in Africa into the dream of God for their lives. info@414africa.com