As a team leader, one of your responsibilities is managing conflict within the groups you serve. Acting as a mediator isn’t always easy, but facing the challenges head-on is the only way to stop the problem from growing out of control. Address it in the right way to ensure issues don't fester.
Keep reading for our top tips on how to manage conflict in a team as a church leader.
Model Christ through the Bible
Turning to the Bible is always useful during times of hardship. So, take the time to dig deep into Scripture and analyze the ways of Jesus to find inspiration on how to act. Not sure how to handle conflict in the church biblically? Keep in mind that doing so requires honest and open communication, responsibility to be taken for any wrongs, and most importantly, forgiveness.
When you follow God’s Word and manage conflict constructively, a negative experience can be turned on its head and harnessed for good. This field guide on resolving conflict by glorifying the Lord outlines six A’s to follow, as written in Scripture when seeking solutions. When you’re not sure how to act, remember the six A’s:
- Address everyone involved
- Avoid ifs, buts, and maybes
- Ask for forgiveness
- Accept the consequences
- Alter your behavior
Whenever there is conflict, there are sides, and as the leader of a team, it is down to you to stay neutral and level-headed. The question of how to resolve conflict in the workplace as a manager isn't easy. Especially in the church, it requires open-mindedness like no other. Take a step back and consider your own biases in the situation before you take it any further.
As a mediator, you should listen to both sides of the story with an open heart and an open mind. Be a person they can open up to and be honest with, and you’ll find you get to the root cause much faster. Make sure these meetings happen in private and one-on-one at first to prevent arguments from breaking out while you scope out the situation.
Find the Deeper Emotions
Emotion is intertwined so tightly with conflict that sometimes it's hard to see. When people go into survival mode and feel attacked, their walls come up to protect their vulnerability, clouding the truth of the situation. If you can decipher the true cause of the conflict, finding a mutual understanding will be much easier.
Try using three-dimensional self-awareness to ground yourself and the other parties. Practicing relational wisdom in this way involves recognizing your own feelings, considering how your actions are affecting others, and active God-awareness. So, ask yourself: Am I acting in faith? Why did God allow this situation to happen? Are my actions glorifying Him?
If you are personally involved in the conflict, reach out to others for open conversation. Maybe there is a middle ground you can find if you only shine a light on it. When communication channels run dry and disagreements are left to fester, they tend to transform into something much uglier that takes on a life of its own.
Team conflict that doesn’t involve you may require you to open these channels. If the people involved have already reached a place of closed communication, set up a safe space where they can discuss their feelings. This can happen either with or without a mediator, depending on how serious the situation is.
Observe the Golden Rule
How to resolve church conflict? Follow the golden rule outlined in the Bible: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Put yourself in their shoes and walk for a mile—do you still feel the same way? People are fighting battles that we have no idea about every single day, and sometimes all they need is a lucky break.
Considering how you would want to be treated often helps bring the tension down. Don’t raise your voice, shout, or talk over someone else, as you wouldn't want the same thing to happen to you. Act with humility, be humble, and (most importantly) remember to be kind. We are all God’s children.
See the Best in Others
When we perceive the world with a suspicious and judgmental eye, every person becomes a threat. If we spend our time looking for the bad in people, it is all we will notice. That’s why giving every person we meet the benefit of the doubt is a good Christian practice. After all, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Remind your team members that the other person probably has good intentions but may have strayed from the righteous path. Instead of creating an environment of condemnation, rejection, and isolation, ask everyone to pray for the resolution of this conflict.
The question of how to resolve a conflict between co-workers remains the same, whether it's volunteers, congregants, or staff. We are all humans and sometimes need to take a step back to see the bigger picture. When done right, church conflict resolution can strengthen bonds, enlightening church members more than ever before. If it comes to it and the answer is to remove a problematic person from your church, read this guide on how to handle it with grace.