“Conflict is Your Friend”

In my career, I pastored three churches over a forty
year time period. All three were in turmoil and decline and all
by the grace and kindness of God turned around and are
thriving churches today.


And one thing I always did when I started and did
periodically over my time in each church was a little exercise
in conflict awareness. I would ask for a show of hands on how
many people wanted to make progress. Almost every had would
go up. Then I would ask, how many people are in favor of
change. Trust me, far fewer hands went up.


Then I would explain that progress entails going
somewhere you have never been before, which means a
change. You cannot have progress without change.
The next thing was to stand them all up and have them
start rubbing their hands together. And I would tell them
that change means movement and that movement creates
heat: your hands get hotter and hotter the longer you rub
them together. Finally, they get so hot you have to stop
rubbing them. It’s too uncomfortable. That is when you know
you have come to the point of conflict.

Progress inevitably leads to conflict. But interestingly, if
you prepare your people for it, so that they expect it, when it comes they tend to say, “well, the pastor told us there would
be conflict.” Conflict is considered a crisis when it comes as a
surprise. Conflict is considered a natural consequence of
change when your people are prepared for it. You don’t have to
blow up your church to bring change. You just have to prepare
your people for it.


To paraphrase Peter Drucker, management is taking
people where they want to go. But in the weeks ahead, we’ll
look at the pastoral skill sets it takes to lead people where
they don’t want to go but need to go. Come back next time and
we’ll talk about it.

Steve is apart of the Fresh Start Network team. He has helped hundreds of leaders through the Fresh Start process to successfully refresh, revitalize, and replant churches. He loves to see pastors, leaders, and teams enter into new seasons of hope, freedom, and joy.