In Matthew 5:9, The Lord Jesus tells us that blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God. Yet, a Harvard study said that in the United States conflict is synonymous with congregation. My guess is that you didn’t need a Harvard study to tell you that conflict is part of church life. Alfred Poirier acknowledges that conflict is a reality in church life and it impacts pastors and their families. “Christ is the reason many enter the pastorate. Conflict is the reason many leave.” How can we respond?
Ken Sande in The Peace Maker offers us a place to begin. Here he offers us “Four-G’s” as a starter-strategy for being peacemakers…
Glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31).
Biblical peacemaking is motivated and guided by a deep desire to bring honor to God by revealing the reconciling love and power of Jesus Christ. As we draw on his grace, follow his example, and put his teachings into practice, we can find freedom from the impulsive, self-centered decisions that make conflict worse, and bring praise to God by displaying the power of the Gospel in our lives.
Get the log out of your eye (Matt. 7:5).
Attacking others only invites counterattacks. This is why Jesus teaches us to face up to our own contributions to a conflict before we focus on what others have done. When we overlook others’ minor offenses and honestly admit our own faults, our opponents will often respond in kind. As tensions decrease, the way may be opened for sincere discussion, negotiation, and reconciliation.
Gently restore (Gal. 6:1).
When others fail to see their contributions to a conflict, we sometimes need to graciously show them their fault. If they refuse to respond appropriately, Jesus calls us to involve respected friends, church leaders, or other objective individuals who can help us encourage repentance and restore peace.
Go and be reconciled (Matt. 5:24).
Finally, peacemaking involves a commitment to restoring damaged relationships and negotiating just agreements. When we forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us and seek solutions that satisfy others’ interests as well as our own, the debris of conflict is cleared away and the door is opened for genuine peace.
Source: Sande, Ken. The Peacemaker (pp. 12-13). Baker Publishing Group.
A few other resources:
Poirier, Alfred J., The Peacemaking Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict.
Patterson, Kerry, et als. Crucial Conversations. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
Jones, Robert. Pursuing Peace. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.
Your brother in Jesus,