Addressing the Underlying Causes of Conflict – Part 5


A Biblical Response To Each Dimension (1 of 3)

  1. How To Identify and Address the Root Issue?

When Jesus (through John) addresses the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 the overall pattern is to identify the strengths of the churches and then to identify the sinful patterns:

  • Ephesus: “but this I have against you” (Rev 2:4)
  • Smyrna: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:11)
  • Pergamum: “But I have a few things against you” (Rev 2:14)
  • Thyatira: “But I have this against you” (Rev 2:20)
  • Sardis: “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain” (Rev 3:2)
  • Philadelphia: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 3:13)
  • Laodicea: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev 3:19)

Catalogue the strengths of a church and then address sins (i.e., conduct a strategic S.W.O.T.). We must identify the core congregational “sins of the fathers” (see Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 1:6). This is particularly true of congregations born out of a split or involved in a prolonged or catastrophic conflict. Churches often face a multi-generational [sin] transmission process that will not be changed by the introduction of “new blood” – either lay or ordained.[1]

The VitalChurch Process


Therefore, it is quite helpful to employ some kind of diagnostic process. Engaging a third party, or as VitalChurch does — bring in a discernment team,  will provide an objective viewpoint as well as help the interim interventionist remain the “good cop.”

  • Our Responsibility: Nehemiah 1:6b – “I and my father’s house have sinned.”
  • Our Objective: 2 Corinthians 5:18 – “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
  • Our Standard: Romans 12:18 – “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all [people].”

A list of corporate sins one church confessed to in a church-wide Sacred Assembly:

  1. Conflict avoidance
  2. Poor processes and communication
  3. Subtle pressure/perceived pressure and unhealthy loyalty by leaders
  4. Lack of clear grievance procedures
  5. Poor discernment
  6. Lack of training for ministry leaders and participants
  7. Gossip and relational triangulation
  8. Moralism


[1] Friedman: 196.

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