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Assisting ministers in managing conflict in the church

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Larry Gunther
Abstract:
New ministers need to be prepared to manage conflict situations in their personal lives and within their congregations. Bible colleges and seminaries seek to prepare future pastors to function within numerous pastoral duties. At times conflict resolution is omitted, or inadequately covered, leaving the novice ministers without sufficient resources to handle the tensions that are a normal part of any congregation. This project provided a review of biblical-theological literature to find passages that would supply universal principles to guide pastors through the conflicts they will face. The prescriptive words of Jesus in Matthew 5 and 18 gave insights to deal with conflict between individuals and with a group of believers. Descriptive portions of the Old and New Testament revealed a wealth of information for both the first-time minister and the seasoned veteran of pastoral ministry. Comparison of passages dealing with the temptations of Eve and Jesus in garden settings and the sexual temptations of Joseph and David were used to focus on intrapersonal conflicts. Two stories that involved Phinehas showed the impact of well-managed and mismanaged interpersonal conflicts. The biblical material was augmented by a survey of the general literature on conflict to produce a series of lesson plans presented to three groups of ministerial students at Trinity Bible College. This material included conflict management styles, conflict development and management cycles, and general information to encourage the students to see that conflict situations can be healthy, beneficial, and resolvable rather than something to be avoided.

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT …………….. .................................. ................................................... ..... ix ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................... ................................................... ..... x LIST OF TABLES .................................... ................................................... ................ xii LIST OF FIGURES .................................. ................................................... ............... xiii Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION .................................. ................................................... ........ 1 The Context A Personal Journey An Institutional Journey The Problem The Purpose Definition of Terms Description of Proposed Project Scope of the Project

Phases of the Project Research Planning Implementation Evaluation Writing

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2. BIBLICAL-THEOLOGICAL LITERATURE REVIEW ........ ......................... 17 Introduction God and People—at War and Peace Pastors and Congregations: Eliminating the Deva station of Conflict Prescriptive Passages That Discuss Conflict Si tuations Matthew 5:9 Matthew 5:21-26 Romans 12:18 Matthew 5:23-25; 18:15-17 Descriptive Passages That Portray Conflict Sit uations Intrapersonal Conflict Two People, Two Gardens, Two Decis ions Two Men, Two Women, Two Choices Interpersonal Conflict A Tragedy Avoided: Joshua 22 An Unfortunate Resolution or a Deadly M istake? Judges 19-21: T he Civil War against Benjamin

Third-Party Intervention Philemon Philippians Conclusion 3. GENERAL LITERATURE REVIEW ..................... ......................................... 64

Introduction Essential Elements Pastors Need to Comprehend C oncerning Conflict

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Conflict Is Real Conflict Is Neutral Conflict Is Multidimensional Conflict Is Repetitive Conflict Is Predictable Conflict Is Beneficial Conflict Is Manageable Conflict Is Relational Core Components Pastors Need to Understand Conc erning Change Understanding Change Due to Pastoral Transitio n Understanding Factors Affecting Change Central Concepts Pastors Need to Apply Concerni ng Leadership Development and Proclamation of Congregational Vision Necessity and Benefit of Pastoral Training Conclusion 4. DESCRIPTION OF FIELD PROJECT .................. ......................................... 106

Preparation of the Project

Execution of the Project

Results of the Project Test Instrument: Part One Test Instrument: Part Two Test Instrument: Part Three

The Project’s Contribution to Ministry

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5. PROJECT SUMMARY ............................... ................................................... . 129

Evaluation of the Project

Keys to Project Effectiveness

Quality Resources on Conflict Management

Practical Application of Conflict Resolution

Personal Stories of C onflict Failure PowerPoint Presentati ons on Conflict Resolution Keys to Project Improvement Time Constraint Negatively Impacted Proje ct Utilization of Online Resources User Friendly Manual on Conflict Resolution Use of Multiple Conflict Management Style Surveys Case Studies and Role Playing Implications of the Project

Recommendations for Trinity Bible College

Recommendations for Future Study The Gospels: Jesus and Conflict Philippians and Philemon: Third Party Mediation

The Book of Acts: Church Growth and Conflict Conflict Management Plans Leading Congregational Change Appendix

A. LESSON PLANS ................................. ................................................... ......... 145

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B. POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS ..................... .......................................... 157 SOURCES CONSULTED ................................. ................................................... ....... 198

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ABSTRACT

New ministers need to be prepared to manage conflic t situations in their personal lives and within their congregations. Bible college s and seminaries seek to prepare future pastors to function within numerous pastoral duties . At times conflict resolution is omitted, or inadequately covered, leaving the novic e ministers without sufficient resources to handle the tensions that are a normal part of any congregation. This project provided a review of biblical-theologi cal literature to find passages that would supply universal principles to guide pas tors through the conflicts they will face. The prescriptive words of Jesus in Matthew 5 and 18 gave insights to deal with conflict between individuals and with a group of be lievers. Descriptive portions of the Old and New Testament revealed a wealth of informat ion for both the first - time minister and the seasoned veteran of pastoral ministry. Comp arison of passages dealing with the temptations of Eve and Jesus in garden settings and the sexual temptations of Joseph and David were used to focus on intrapersonal conflicts . Two stories that involved Phinehas showed the impact of well-managed and mismanaged in terpersonal conflicts. The biblical material was augmented by a survey of the general literature on conflict to produce a series of lesson plans presen ted to three groups of ministerial students at Trinity Bible College. This material in cluded conflict management styles, conflict development and management cycles, and gen eral information to encourage the students to see that conflict situations can be hea lthy, beneficial, and resolvable rather than something to be avoided.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank the Assemblies of God Theolog ical Seminary Doctor of Ministry Department for its commitment to excellenc e in leadership. Former Director of the Doctor of Ministry program, Dr. Earl Creps; cur rent Director, Dr. Cheryl Taylor; Doctor of Ministry Program Coordinator, Ava Oleson; Doctor of Ministry Project Coordinator, Dr. Lois Olena; and each of my profess ors have made a great impact on my life and ministry. Their encouragement will be long appreciated. I will always be grateful to Dr. Bryan Klaus, President; and Dr. Steve Lim, V ice President of Academic Affairs, for their support and the challenge to be become a better leader. I thank Dr. Lori S. O’Dea for encouraging me to pursue conflict resolut ion as the topic of this project. This project could not have been completed without the experience, wisdom, and insight of key people: Dr. Lois Olena, Project Coor dinator; Dr. Gary R. Allen, Project Adviser; Dr. Roger Cotton, Biblical Adviser, and Al ice Horne, editor. Their expertise and patience helped make the project a reality. I am also indebted to the administration, faculty, staff, and students at Trinity Bible College. Special attention needs to be given to Dr. Michael Dusing, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and his wife Ruth for their co ntinual support, encouragement, and assistance. Professors David Jones, Aaron Thurber, Scott Townsend, and Charles Vanasse covered my TBC classes while I attended doc toral classes and during the semester of my medical leave from the college. In a ddition, I am also appreciative of the

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PMIN 355 Pastoral Theology students in the fall sem esters of 2007, 2008, and 2009 for their gracious willingness to participate in the pr oject. I also want to thank Reverend Raymond and Judith Lo ven for their gracious hospitality that made it possible for me to further my education and Dr. Rachelle Loven Hoh, University of Sioux Falls, for her encourageme nt to pursue teaching at the collegiate level. I want to thank the congregations I pastored that g raciously allowed me time to pursue advanced degrees: First Assembly of God, Nor th Vernon, Indiana; Kulm Assembly of God, Kulm, North Dakota; and Nortonvill e United Methodist Church, Nortonville, North Dakota. I especially want to thank my wife Valerie who has supported and believed in me for the last 38 years, and my children: Andrew, Rac helle, Sara, and Micah for their support and encouragement. Finally I want to thank Jesus Christ for His call t hat placed me into the ministry and continues to use my life to touch others for th e Kingdom.

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LIST OF TABLES Table Page

1. Comparison of Performance-Based and Spirit-Form ed Leadership ................ 100

2. Student Statistics: Gender and Marital S tatus ............................................. ..... 113

3. Student Statistics: Traditional and Non-Traditi onal Status ............................. 113

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page

1. The Conflict Cycle ............................ ................................................... ...... 74

2. Conflict Management Concerns Grid ........... ............................................. 81

4. The Conflict-Management Cycle ................. .............................................. 83

5. Comparison of the Pretest Results by Year for t he Agree-Disagree Portion of the Testing Instrument .................................................. ............ 116

6. Comparison of the Posttest Results by Year for the Agree-Disagree Portion of the Testing Instrument .................................................. ............ 116

7. Comparison of the Pretest Results Based on Gend er and Marital Status ...................... ................................................... .................... 118

8. Comparison of the Posttest Results Based on Gen der and Marital Status ................................. ................................................... ......... 118

9. Comparison of the Pretest Results Based on Trad itional and Non-Traditional Students ........ ................................................... ................ 119

10. Comparison of the Posttest Results Based on Tr aditional and Non-Traditional Students ........ ................................................... ................ 120

11. The Five Stages of the Conflict Development Cycle................................. 122

12. The Five Stages of the Conflict-Management Cyc le ................................. 122

13. Conflict Management Style Grid ............. .................................................. 123

14. Comparison of the Pretest and Posttest Averag es for the Conflict Cycles and Management Styles Grid .................................................. ....... 124

15. Comparison of the Pretest and Posttest Scores on a Series of Miscellaneous Questions about Con flict ............................................. ...... 127

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The Context

To fully comprehend the background of this project requires insight into my personal and institutional journeys. Individuals an d organizations are products of events woven together to shape, change, and enhance them. Some day the final product will be apparent. Until then circumstances continue to caus e minor, and at times, major shifts. A Personal Journey One of my strongest childhood memories is trying to go to sleep while listening to my parents raise their voices in arguments night af ter night. One or the other would threaten to leave and not return. Doors would then slam closed. Sleep was difficult with the uncertainty of whether morning would reveal a f amily still intact, or if one parent would be gone. Fear of physical danger was never an issue, but emotional stability was tenuous. I do not remember how long the tension las ted, but the effect lingered. My parents were poor models when it came to dealing wi th conflict, and their modeling left a deep impression on my life. Avoidance became a common pattern. Isolation was em braced as a means of security. Elementary school years were marked by ho w much time I could spend away from home playing with neighborhood friends. When t his was not possible, I withdrew to my bedroom and found ways to entertain myself. High school years saw employment as a

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new way to avoid encounters with my parents. As a j unior I worked an average of fifty- six hours per week, even during the school year. College brought geographical distance and higher wa ges in Minneapolis and provided a valid excuse not to go home to Indiana f or the summer months. The uncertainty I experienced as a child caused me to p lace a high premium on the avoidance of conflict. It was easier to pay the extra charge for a private dorm room than deal with a roommate. Ministry positions that followed college graduation brought new challenges in regard to conflict. My position as a staff member, rather than giving me a good role model for dealing with conflict and learning how to resolve tension, reinforced avoidance as an acceptable way to handle difficult situations . The church faced great financial pressure and possible foreclosure from several bank s. This resulted in the senior pastor spending his time away from the church, partially t o sell insurance to support his family, but also so he did not have to deal with the phone calls from individuals and institutions wanting their money. Subsequent pastoral positions revealed conflict sit uations that I was unprepared to handle. Little issues that should have been easily resolved escalated into ongoing problems because of the lack of conflict management skills. Avoidance can be useful in certain situations, but it cannot be the primary st yle if an individual desires an effective ministry. In one church, attendance rose from thirt y to seventy in a small community, but the increase in attendance brought new conflicts th at also increased and bordered on the ridiculous. Board members demanded an accounting of every postage stamp used. Mileage would only be reimbursed if I initiated the contact and only if the parishioner

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lived within the city limits. Hospital visits in ne ighboring towns were required, but did not qualify for mileage reimbursement. Finally, the sectional presbyter was called in to mediate the situation. After twelve years of minist ry in this particular church, some of the most notable highlights are of unresolved conflicts —rather than increased attendance, construction of a new building, and a stronger bank statement than ever in the history of the church. There were good moments, though, and a few lifelong friendships were developed. In the next pastorate, avoidance of conflict became the easy route. The scenarios were different, but the results were similar. Misma tched vision and values led to rocky encounters between me and the board. Without the ne cessary insights to resolve the various issues, my tenure only lasted a little over seven years. One principle provided my fortitude to stay in the ministry—the call of God. Without this conviction it would have been easy to walk away from the difficulties. Poor modeling of conflict resolution skills in the home and church, coupled with the lack of training in this crucial area, left hurt congregati ons and a frustrated pastor. This led me to pursue a way to help future ministers understand ho w conflict develops and how it can be resolved. I wanted to give these young women and me n tools they could use in their future ministries. An Institutional Journey In 1948, Rev. L. E. Englar, pastor of the Assemblie s of God church in Stanley, North Dakota, envisioned “a short-term Bible school in the Dakotas.” 1 His dream was presented to the North Dakota District Council but met with strong opposition. Soon,

1 Trinity Bible Institute, 1983 Messenger (Ellendale, ND: Trinity Bible Institute, 1983), 2.

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pastors G. L. Riffe and W. H. Kesler joined Englar’ s efforts, and Lakewood Park Bible School became a reality. Located on the district ca mpgrounds, Lakewood Park Bible School (LPBS) was a six-month school running from O ctober through March. This allowed students who were needed to help on the fam ily farm with planting, harvesting, and field work to attend school during the winter m onths. 2 The school began with eighteen students. Each year the numbers increased until the student population outgrew the facilities at Devils Lake. A new home for the s chool was sought. P. T. Emmett, pastor of the Assemblies of God churc h in Aberdeen, South Dakota, had dreamed of a Bible school within his ch urch. An architect was hired, plans were designed, but before construction could begin Emmett was killed in a plane crash. The congregation still believed in his vision and c onstruction commenced on an addition to the church. Lakewood Park Bible School moved to Aberdeen in 1960 and used these new facilities. Students were housed in the homes o f the constituency. The name of the fledgling school was changed to Hub City Bible Inst itute (HCBI). Aberdeen was known as the “Hub City of the Dakotas.” As attendance con tinued to increase the small Bible school once again outgrew the facilities in the chu rch building. Again, a new home was needed. 3

In God’s design, the old Trinity Hospital in Jamest own, ND, was available. The facility was purchased and renovated in 1967 and be came the new home of HCBI. The name that was engraved on the building took on new meaning as the school’s name was again changed. It now was known as Trinity Bible In stitute (TBI). Growth continued as more young people felt the call of God to prepare f or vocational ministry. Soon even this

2 Ibid.

3 Trinity Bible Institute, 1972 Messenger (Ellendale, ND: Trinity Bible Institute, 1972), 9.

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building was too small to house the students and cl assrooms. There was no room for a gymnasium and other needs of the school. Suitable a lternatives were sought in Jamestown, but the cost to expand or replace the fa cilities was too expensive. The school was in such a difficult position that the administr ation was faced with the hardship of turning down students who wanted to attend. Sixty-five miles south of Jamestown, a twenty-eight acre campus that had been part of the state university system was empty. Decl ining enrollment and a tragic fire led to the close of the University of North Dakota-Elle ndale Branch. Negotiations to purchase the campus were made under the leadership of then President Dr. Roy Wead. An agreement was reached whereby Trinity was able t o buy the vacant school with all of the equipment for $1.00. 4 Doug Wead son of Roy Wead made this known as the g reat multimillion dollar miracle. 5 Although the purchase price was only $1.00, the ag reement between TBI and the state of North Dakota called fo r $100,000.00 to be spent for “promotion, upkeep, and capital improvement” in the first two years. 6 Trinity moved to Ellendale in 1972. Once again the name would change after a move, but this time it would not be due to relocation. Regional accreditat ion was sought and received, so TBI became Trinity Bible College and offered a four-yea r Bachelor of Arts degree. I became a part of Trinity Bible College as an adju nct faculty member in the fall of 1996. I was asked to teach one class with no gua rantee of a contract to teach full-time. In December of 1996, Rev. David Jones submitted his resignation as a faculty member to

4 Ibid.

5 Doug Wead, The Great Multimillion Dollar Miracle (Springfield, MO: Restoration Fellowship, 1975), book title.

6 1972 Messenger , 9.

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return to pastoral ministry. I was asked to fulfill the remainder of his contract. I am now in my fifteenth year of teaching at the college. I am an Associate Professor and chairperson of the Biblical and Theological Studies Department. My years of teaching have brought me into contact with students seeking to enter vocational ministry. My personal goal has been to prepare these men and wom en to be effective leaders within the kingdom of God. My personal and institutional journ ey enables me to identify with the struggles the students face as they prepare for min istry. I have also had the opportunity to visit with pastors and district superintendents abo ut Trinity’s effectiveness in equipping future pastors. These conversations have led to cha nges with the department. One example is the additional of ministerial practicum classes and the requirement of an internship for all students entering vocational min istry. Interviews with leadership on the campus and guests at the college spurred me to do m y doctor of ministry project on conflict resolution. The basic principle formulated by Englar, Riffe, an d Kesler was “to prepare young people for full-time ministry or missionary w ork, to give them a desire to seek and know God and to teach them how to harvest souls for the kingdom.” 7 Although it is no longer a six-month Bible school, Trinity Bible Coll ege stays close to its rich heritage. Heartland ministry is a primary focus of the instit ution. Once neglected when the nation’s attention was focused on cities, rural America has a bright future. Historically, most missionaries have come from small churches. Rural c ongregations make up a large portion of the Assemblies of God and most other den ominations. Trinity’s niche is preparing ministers for the heartland. Obviously no t every student who attends Trinity

7 W. H. Kesler, “Trinity Reaches 40th Anniversary!” i n Trinity Bible College, 1988 Messenger

(Trinity Bible College, 1988), 4.

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stays in small towns or rural areas. Graduates are in all fifty states and in over forty countries of the world. Small church and rural ministries present many chal lenges. Some are common to all ministries regardless of size. One of the chall enges ministers face is conflict. In the small church, conflict can be a greater problem bec ause there are more opportunities for the individuals in conflict to encounter one anothe r. In large churches tension between two people may not be recognized by the whole congr egation, but it is readily known in the small church. In rural areas, many people withi n the church are related. This makes it easy for conflict to increase in intensity and spre ad throughout the whole community of believers. Pastors need to know how to engage confl ict at an early stage with as few people involved as possible. One important element new ministers will need to learn is how to deal with conflict. The Problem Unresolved or poorly managed conflict negatively im pacts the Church. This results in organizational problems including short- term tenures, vacant pulpits, stymied church growth, power struggles, and church splits. It also leads to disillusioned ministers and frustrated parishioners. In addition, it fails to help people who have marital difficulties and troubled or fractured relationship s. Conflict itself is not the problem: mismanaged conflict is. Conflict resolution was poorly modeled for me in th e home and in the churches I attended. My ministerial training provided no resou rces to deal with conflict once I became a pastor. My personal experiences are not un ique. Unresolved or mismanaged conflicts between pastors and church boards are all too common. It is estimated that one-

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fourth of pastors are either fired or asked to leav e their churches. I wanted to make a difference for the ministerial students who attend Trinity Bible College. I did not want future ministers to make the same mistakes I made i n mishandling conflict. Rather than embracing the conflict situations as a means to gro wth, a discovery of new ideas, or better solutions, I simply avoided the situation. W hen that did not work, I tried to justify my inaction rather than seek a solution beneficial to both parties. The years I spent in pastoral ministry before becom ing a faculty member at Trinity somehow qualified me to serve repeatedly on the discipline committee. Many times the issues addressed involved conflict in one fashion or another. At times, the problem occurred because individuals had not handle d intrapersonal conflict well. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, they chose to disobey th e clear revelation of God for a temporal pleasure. Many of the students were remors eful, not only for the thing they had done, but because deep down they wanted to do what was right in God’s eyes. They did not know how to make right choices. Other situation s involved one student at odds with another student, and the tension built to the point that one or both acted inappropriately. If they, or their resident assistant in the dorm, h ad been trained in conflict resolution, the problem may not have gotten out of hand. From the dorm room of the college campus to the boa rd room of a local church to the grass huts of a mission field, conflict is ever ywhere. When it is handled properly, growth occurs in individuals and groups (Acts 6). W hen the tensions are mishandled, division and strife destroy friendships and split c hurches. Ministerial students receive instruction in various aspects of ministry: preaching, teaching, exegeting, theologizing, counseling, admi nistrating, and planning. However,

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they often lack guidance in conflict management. Wh ile conflict overwhelms unprepared ministers, training enables ministers to understand and handle conflict. Ministerial students need a resource for understanding: (1) the nature of conflict; (2) the extent of the problem of unresolved or mismanaged conflict in the church; (3) the various conflict management styles; and (4) suggestions for engaging in the resolution process. The Purpose The purpose of this project is to develop and teach a seminar as a core component of ministerial instruction at Trinity Bible College to prepare ministerial students to address the problem of conflict in the church. This presentation, with accompanying resource materials, seeks to do the following: •

teach a biblical theology of conflict; •

inform ministers of their role in conflict manageme nt; •

assist ministers in recognizing conflict management styles and appropriate usage;

educate ministers in the relationship between chang e and conflict;

equip ministers to understand the conflict developm ent cycle and recognize it early; and

encourage ministers to respond appropriately to con flict on personal and corporate levels.

Ministerial students who are ready to leave their t raining center do so with visions of building and leading effective churches. One asp ect of this requires training in conflict resolution since churches filled with unresolved is sues or mismanaged conflicts tend to be unhealthy. These men and women who have responde d to the call of God want to make a difference with their lives. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to fill the void in the training of these future ministers. Instruct ion will be given to help the students

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understand conflict from a biblical viewpoint. From Genesis through Revelation the Bible is filled with incidents of conflict, both intraper sonal and interpersonal. These passages in God’s Word reveal the benefit of well managed confl ict situations and the consequences that occur when the conflicts were not resolved. Cu rrent literature will show the students how conflict develops through predictable patterns and the steps necessary to resolution. The students will have an opportunity to discover t heir primary and secondary conflict management styles and the best times to utilize all five approaches. Definition of Terms Intrapersonal conflict. This is conflict that occurs within an individual, such as when two or more desires compete for the same time, energy, or resources. These personal choices can have a great impact upon the p astor, his or her family, the congregation, and at times a whole community. 8

Interpersonal conflict. In this project I view interpersonal conflict as an y conflict between two or more people or groups. It may simply be a clash of personalities, or it may involve substantial issues. Either way there is tension between people. 9

8 When God told Moses to speak to the rock and He wou ld cause water to flow from it, a decision had to be made. Moses could have obeyed God. Instea d, out of anger and frustration or out of self- sufficiency, he struck the rock twice. Some scholar s think that Moses, as a desert shepherd, knew a particular kind of rock that actually, when struck, allowed water to flow from it. God in His gracious ness still gave the people water, but Moses and Aaron we re prohibited from entering the Promised Land (Num.

20:1-13). Later Moses would blame the people for hi s actions (Deut. 3:26). Pastors will face situation s of personal struggles—inner conflicts. If they success fully handled these, blessings can come to them and

their churches. If pastors make the wrong decisions , shame may engulf their lives and families. Far to o many ministers become involved in inappropriate sit uations that led to moral failures or misappropriat ion of church funds. They lose their ministries. Some l ose their families. God can restore the repentant p erson, but the consequences can last a long time.

9 Luke described two conflicts in the Early Church in Acts 15. The first involved a large number of people. It began in Antioch, and an answer was soug ht by the leadership in Jerusalem. The dispute cent ered on how Gentiles become Christians. Paul held the po sition of salvation by faith alone. The Judaizers a rgued for the importance of circumcision and keeping the Law of Moses (vv. 1-5). Both sides were given opportunity to speak before the decision was made b y James (vv. 6-21). Later conflict erupted between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark. Barnabas wanted t o give Mark a second chance. Paul did not think it

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Substantive conflict. This type of conflict involves issues of substance , at least as it is perceived by one or more individual. Outsider s may believe the issue is petty, but to a person or a group, the issue may be a major conce rn. 10

Conflict management. This term refers to the process of recognizing and seeking a resolution. The term is used interchangeably with “ conflict resolution.” Ken Sande and Jim Van Yperen use the biblical term peacemaking fo r this process. 11

Conflict development cycle . This term refers to the five stages people go thr ough in the formation of, and adjustment to, conflict. Conflict-management cycle . This term refers to the five stages necessary to work back through the stages of conflict development. Conflict management styles . This term refers to the various ways a minister r eacts to, and engages in, conflict management/resolution.

would be a wise decision. The dispute between them became so sharp they went separate ways. In looking

at the issue of who was right, George O. Wood decla res, “In the long run, both Barnabas and Paul were right. They were just not right at the same time.” George O. Wood, “The Acts Method for Resolving Church Disputes,” Enrichment (Spring 2005): 65.

10 In one church I pastored there were strong feelings over whether to pad the pews or leave them bare wood. Within the first two weeks of my ministr y, people on both sides of the issue came to me to share their concerns. One side wanted the pews padd ed so they would be more comfortable. The other sid e liked the look of the oak wood. They were purchased for their beauty. At one of the annual business meetings of the church, the issue came to the surfa ce. A motion was made to create a fund to pad the p ews. The motion also contained a provision to purchase a new organ. If people wanted either the pews padded or a new organ they had to vote in favor of the motion . The motion passed, but if the motion had been spl it, both parts would have failed. The vote passed. The last order of business was a vote of confidence on the pastor. I received two negative votes and after the meeting, I was informed by a couple that they had voted against me because I allowed the motion to be made and called for a vote. To pad the pews or not was o f little concern to me. As pastor I stood most of the service for worship and to preach, but for others it was a hot issue.

Full document contains 237 pages
Abstract: New ministers need to be prepared to manage conflict situations in their personal lives and within their congregations. Bible colleges and seminaries seek to prepare future pastors to function within numerous pastoral duties. At times conflict resolution is omitted, or inadequately covered, leaving the novice ministers without sufficient resources to handle the tensions that are a normal part of any congregation. This project provided a review of biblical-theological literature to find passages that would supply universal principles to guide pastors through the conflicts they will face. The prescriptive words of Jesus in Matthew 5 and 18 gave insights to deal with conflict between individuals and with a group of believers. Descriptive portions of the Old and New Testament revealed a wealth of information for both the first-time minister and the seasoned veteran of pastoral ministry. Comparison of passages dealing with the temptations of Eve and Jesus in garden settings and the sexual temptations of Joseph and David were used to focus on intrapersonal conflicts. Two stories that involved Phinehas showed the impact of well-managed and mismanaged interpersonal conflicts. The biblical material was augmented by a survey of the general literature on conflict to produce a series of lesson plans presented to three groups of ministerial students at Trinity Bible College. This material included conflict management styles, conflict development and management cycles, and general information to encourage the students to see that conflict situations can be healthy, beneficial, and resolvable rather than something to be avoided.