7 Tips to Resolve Conflict In the Church


One of the greatest tools a minister can carry is the ability to resolve conflicts successfully. Every church has conflicts simply because every church is made of imperfect people. As much as we hate confrontation (well, some of us do!) it’s inevitable in ministry that we deal with people conflicts.

The good thing is this isn’t new – and even better is that Jesus himself gave us a prescription to handle it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched relationships crumble because people refused to follow this simple pathway…

Are you ready for Jesus’ simple plan?

“If your brother sins against you, go and confront him while the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.” Matthew 18:15

He gave a little more advice if this doesn’t work, but 9 times of out 10 it solves the problem!

Let’s break this down piece by piece to really understand what’s at play here…

1. If there is a conflict

Whether the offense is just perceived or real, Jesus infers a responsibility to diagnose the issue. If there even appears to be a problem, it’s enough of a problem to address.

2. You

I love this. He’s speaking to the one who recognizes there’s a problem. In other words, if you think there’s a problem, there is… and the person responsible for initiating its resolution is… you! This is all about taking responsibility. Being the offended party doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility to make it right.

3. Go

Then he explains that action must be taken. I find it interesting that he didn’t say, “wait until it blows over” or, “wait until they come to apologize”. He simply said, “go”. Letting it drag on is much worse in the long run because to delay is only delaying the inevitable.

4. To the person

Notice that Jesus tells us who the best person to talk to is, and it isn’t your closest friend or your circle of defenders. Going straight to the source is the fastest way to resolve conflict.

5. In private

Why not call a board meeting, or bring along the senior pastor or another person who’s got your back? Well, that may be necessary later, but if this works out the way Jesus intends, the only thing you need is two people in the same room having an honest discussion.

6. And discuss the problem

Don’t avoid the point of the conversation. It can be difficult to talk about offenses, but you’ll never come to a resolution without honesty. Share what you saw, heard, and perceived, and give them the opportunity to do the same. Listen as much as you speak and give one another the grace to explain thoroughly

7. For the purpose of reconciliation.

Remember, the whole purpose of the dialog is to reconcile. Don’t go in with guns blazing, accusatory, or demanding restitution. The goal isn’t to create more conflict, it’s to resolve it.

Give grace to the other party, and give them space to correct the wrong or explain the misunderstanding. I like how Paul instructed resolution in Galatians 6:1, “(NET) …you who are spiritual, restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.” The approach you take sets the tone.

We can accomplish so much more for the Kingdom when we’re working together, and not when we’re divided.

So, there it is… Jesus’ simple, 7-step plan for conflict resolution.

Have you found other ways or helpful tips to resolve conflict? Share in the comments!