Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Moving Past Church Conflict

Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5

It was one of those meetings that I did not really want to attend. But I did not have a choice. It was part of my job as a denominational leader. The meeting was to help a church overcome a very significant conflict that had resulted in the pastor being dismissed. As a result, a significant portion of the congregation had left the church. The remaining members were in a lot of pain. They were discouraged. They were frustrated. Unfortunately, this was not the first time that this church had something like this happen. Several years before a similar event had happened and it had taken years to overcome the fall out.

When a church goes through such a situation, one of the greatest challenges is the lack of trust. Hurt people don’t trust each other. Sometimes they don’t trust themselves because they feel like they may have said or done something that made the situation worse. Though they often don’t want to admit it, there is even a certain lack of trust in God.

I think this lack of trust is one of the greatest things to overcome in a church that has been hurt. Though each situation is different, it is appropriate to create healthy accountability systems in an attempt to keep such situations from happening again, but there is no way to create a system that guarantees the problem will not reemerge. People make mistakes. By-laws, church constitutions, policy manuals can help set boundaries, but in the end, they lack the power to make people do the right thing. At some point, we simply have to trust each other. And we must accept the reality that from time to time our trust might be violated. We must be determined not to let the occasional violation of our trust in someone at church become the context of our entire faith experience.

That is easy to say. It is hard to do.

The only way I know to do that is to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who will never let us down. We must realize that the church is HIS church. He will build the church. He will make it what He wants it to be. If we focus on Jesus, it will help us move past the hurt and pain that sometimes comes with being a leader in the church.

Lord, help me focus on serving You and learn to release the pain that church conflicts have brought into my life. Help me be able to trust others again. Amen.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

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