Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond - Lesson 4

Sparks that Ignite Conflict

In this lesson, you will learn about the sparks that ignite conflict within churches and how these conflicts can escalate. You will discover that misunderstandings, careless words, gossip, competition over resources, character flaws in leaders, and differences in the interpretation of Scripture are common causes of conflict. Through group discussion, you will also explore additional factors that may lead to or exacerbate these conflicts, such as personal preferences, seeking the kingdom without loving the King, and ignoring spiritual basics. Finally, the lesson highlights the importance of developing peacemaking skills and fully embracing the gospel to foster unity and resolve conflicts.

Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Sparks that Ignite Conflict

Lesson: Sparks That Ignite Conflict in the Church

I. Common Causes of Conflict

A. Misunderstandings

B. Careless words and gossip

C. Pursuing uniformity over unity

D. Competition over limited resources

E. Change

F. Legitimate desires turned into sinful demands

G. Character flaws in leaders

II. Additional Sparks from Group Discussion

A. Differences in interpretation of Scripture

B. Disagreements over priorities

C. Personal preferences

D. Seeking the kingdom without loving the King

E. Ignoring spiritual basics

III. Factors that Escalate Conflict

A. Worldly attitudes

B. Reckless words

C. Lack of peacemaking skills

D. Fear

E. Lack of adaptability

F. Not fully embracing the gospel

  • Learn about the crucial role of leadership in conflict resolution, explore the various types of conflicts in the church, and understand the importance of building a peacemaking culture to prevent and address conflicts effectively.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights into the growth and crisis of the global church, with a focus on Africa, and learn about the tragic Rwandan genocide. You will examine the historical background of these crises, the church's role in addressing them, and the need to move beyond the Gospel of sin management. Embracing the four-chapter gospel, you will understand the church's responsibility as a community of reconciled people, embodying God's reconciling work in the world.
  • You will gain insights into the gospel and its applicability to everyday life, as well as its impact on society, including bringing reconciliation and creating heaven on Earth. The discussion acknowledges the difficulties of living out the gospel in society and the tension between living in the world and living for the gospel.
  • In this lesson, you'll gain insight into the sparks that ignite conflict in the church, understand how conflicts can escalate, and discover the importance of developing peacemaking skills and fully embracing the gospel to foster unity and resolve conflicts.
  • You will learn about conflict culture in the church, which is an inherited culture for resolving conflict shaped by visible and invisible elements and assumptions and values that drive conditioned responses, and how recognizing and addressing it can lead to healthy conflict resolution.
  • This lesson explores how pastors and church leaders address people-pleasing cultures, examining the attitudes and actions of laissez-faire, controlling, and peacemaking leaders, and discussing the role of the church in promoting peacemaking, involving others, and establishing support systems.
  • Crafting a culture of peace requires three building blocks: having a passion for the gospel, unified leadership that exhibits a shepherd's heart to protect and guide, and embracing a peacemaking theology. By focusing on these building blocks, we can create a harmonious society that avoids the slippery slope towards violence.
  • This lesson highlights the significance of unified leadership within the church, demonstrating how effective leadership can help overcome crises and conflicts. By examining factors that contribute to unity and disunity among leaders, you will gain insight into the importance of addressing issues such as control, communication, differing gifts, competition, and qualifications in order to maintain a cohesive and gospel-centered leadership team.
  • You will gain insight into the importance of preparation and certain characteristics that need to be in place before conflict in order to build a united leadership team, using an analogy of running a marathon.
  • This lesson provides insights on understanding conflict and developing a peacemaking theology, teaching you how to respond biblically and create an approach that honors God and benefits those involved in the conflict.
  • You will learn practical steps to overcome conflict by reflecting the glory of God, responding with humility and grace, prioritizing unity over self-interest, speaking the truth in love, and pursuing forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • By learning practical peacemaking tools and focusing on communication, you'll enhance your ability to resolve conflicts by mastering responsible listening and speaking, enabling you to better understand others and communicate your message more effectively.
  • You will learn about the importance of listening as a spiritual practice to connect with God and others, and how being open and attentive to God's voice through listening can lead to greater awareness of His presence and deeper relationships with Him and others.
  • Gain insights into the barriers to good listening, the 600 word gap between listening capacity and speaking rate, and the objectives of responsible listening to improve communication and build trust in relationships.
  • In this lesson, you learn about the vital role of responsible speaking and listening in conflict resolution and how taking responsibility for understanding others and being understood can improve the chances of successful outcomes, along with strategies to enhance communication.
  • Learn to manage the Grapevine, an informal communication network, and understand the roles of Centrals and Peripherals in sharing information, as well as conflict mediation techniques and the importance of acknowledging and accommodating uneven tables in disputes.
  • This lesson highlights the crucial role of peacemaking beyond the church, touching on the history of American evangelicalism, race relations, and the inspiring story of Koinonia Farm, which exemplifies the importance of fostering reconciliation in a divided world.

How conflict and leadership intersect..

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Sparks that Ignite Conflict
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:01] So what are some of the sparks that ignite conflict? In the church. Well, here's a short list. You. I want you to think about these, and I'd ask you to think about others as I go to the end. The first is. Is just plain old, innocent misunderstandings. We communicate pretty poorly at times. Don't. There was a church board that requested a meeting with the pastor to review his ongoing role at the church, and there was no desire to get rid of the guy. But the pastor showed up at a meeting with his attorney. And needless to say, this led to a meltdown. And the pastor led that left the church. That's what you call a misunderstanding. There's also careless words, gossip, that James chapter three, verse five calls it. There's pursuing uniformity rather than unity sometimes. I was in a three hour conversation with someone today over and over whether the issue that he was so passionate about was was was a minor main point or as a supplemental point, I would I would maintain that it's a supplemental issue. When it came to how we're to work together. He felt like it was a major main issue. And it was very interesting how that congregation went. So. So there can be issues of doctrine that cause us to want uniformity rather than unity. We'll get into that. More competition over limited resources can be a big issue. Staff money, space within the church change. I mean, we just went through a whole course on change, so I don't have to have to review that. There's legitimate desire. There's elevated to sinful demand. There's also character flaws that often show up in leaders lives like control, a sense of entitlement, lack of accountability, resistance to correction, insufficient self-awareness, sexual immorality, abuse of power, mishandling of finances, poor work ethic and desires to be served rather than to serve.

[00:02:17] What are some other sparks that ignite conflict in the church that you that come to your mind? Yes. The one that I've observed the most is differences in interpretation of Scripture, which people hold very dear. So they tend to read things and they tend to get upset about. It's a literal thing. More than 90. Thank you. So, interpretation of scripture. That's good. I mean, I've seen it. I've seen that lead to conflict in a lot of Christian settings. That's an interesting one. We could talk about that for a long time, but that's driving a lot of people back to church traditions that. Not everybody interprets the scripture. We depend on one person's interpretation. Um. Yeah. That's great. I guess along with is like, what is going to be the main thing? Like you were saying today, your conversation, what you saw was a minor point, something that was always a major point. And you know, as a community of believers, what do you want your kids to be? What's the main thing? Lot of disagreement over what's the main thing. Preferences. People have different preferences and they push their. For the conflict commanders. Is there anything wrong with having preferences? I don't think so. I mean, I like chicken. I happen to like fried chicken, spicy fried chicken. My wife doesn't like spicy fried chicken, but I like it. So I enjoy preferences. But I'm not going to force her to eat it. I'm being silly of course, but. But yeah, I think preferences are good things. It's what makes us makes life interesting. I mean, I've heard before, you know, to split a church dress, I would go to a carpet, you know, so that the carpets become the main thing, right? Yeah. One can.

[00:04:45] I guess the main thing is before one can seek the kingdom without really seeking the king. Oh, that's really tricky because you see, you're trying to set things off the kingdom. But what are you in love with, King? That's a pretty profound statement, David. I think what what you're basically saying we can get all excited about causes, good causes, just causes. Christian causes. That's very good. Other thoughts, Other things that spark conflict. I think one thing which is not necessarily a cause of conflict, but can be one of the factors that allows conflicts to escalate in the church is that I don't see very many, very, many churches. It seems to be not, you know, fashionable in our days to follow some of the practices which I think in Scripture are intended to help to help churches. Think through difficult issues like spending a lot of time in fasting prayer. So ignoring the basics of sort of spiritual discipline, uh, is so, uh. Ignoring the basics. Maybe I could just put that the spiritual basics. That's good. You know, man, I know it's interesting. Probably the reason for so many of your nominations is because of all these different conflicts. Yeah, I heard one person say they write it off, quite frankly, to find the words that wrongly divide themselves. Yeah. Well, I really appreciate you thinking those are some excellent additions to the spark question. Of course, these are the sparks. Then there are those things that serve as gasoline to the sparks to cause a raging inferno. Worldly attitudes is one. We deserve our rights as leaders. And we're going to show you. My attorney is more powerful than your attorney. Of course, once a conflict breaks out, reckless words can be an aggravating source of conflict.

[00:07:46] Two is, frankly, lack of peacemaking skills on the part of leadership. When pastors are asked what was lacking in their preparation for ministry, the number one answer was conflict resolution. The number one answer. There's a lack of peacemaking theology. There's a lack of skills. Fear. Fear can serve as a gasoline. And it almost always leads to control and increased isolation. And I could give you a plethora of examples, things that I've seen over the years in my consulting work, that a lack of adaptability and in terms of dealing with conflict, we, we we you know, we want to win every race with the same horse. Or to use a golfing analogy, we want to win the game with one club. It's is sometimes the we we we we need to learn these this this this skill of peacemaking that that uses the tools that are available to us. And then finally, I think oftentimes we just simply don't fully embrace the gospel. We we feel like that. Well, the gospel is is this. But, you know, if we if we just don't quite get along and we have conflict. Well, that's that's important. But it's not quite the level of the gospel. Um, we use the gospel as an entry point, but we don't fully embrace the gospel as the air we breathe in this area of reconciliation. Sometimes the attitude is, or I can fix it myself, I don't need anybody's help. And that can be a tremendous problem. So when it comes to facing conflict, one leader summed it up very well. Many church leaders are not only poor firefighters. All too often they are unwilling and unwilling arsonists. But the good news is that arsonists can learn to stop triggering, triggering conflicts and and being and being poor.

[00:09:56] Five poor firefighters can develop peacemaking skills. I can say that from experience, and I may as well start with a confession. I have not only been a victim of conflict in the past and a very painful conflict, but I have always I have sometimes been a perpetrator, mostly unwittingly, but destructive nonetheless. So much of what I share in this course is that of personal experience. And so you may as well know that up front. Some of it's good. Much of it is not so good. And some of it is our painful memories that I hope that I've learned some things over the years. But hopefully my journey can help you to arrive at a better destination because peacemaking is at the heart of our gospel.


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