Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond - Lesson 8

Unified Leadership (Part 1/2)

In this lesson, you will learn about the importance of unified leadership in a church context. The lesson provides an example of a church crisis, highlighting the impact leadership has on conflict resolution and overcoming challenges. You will explore factors that contribute to unity and disunity, including biblical examples of leadership unity and common struggles within leadership teams, such as control issues, poor communication, different gifting, competition, comparison, and biblically unqualified leaders. The lesson concludes by discussing ways to maintain unity in leadership, including addressing pride, differing visions, and limited resources.

Rick Sessoms
Peacemaking in the Church and Beyond
Lesson 8
Watching Now
Unified Leadership (Part 1/2)

Lesson 2: Unified Leadership

I. Importance of Unified Leadership

A. Church Crisis Example

B. The Impact of Leadership on Conflict Resolution

C. The Role of Unity in Overcoming Challenges

II. Factors Contributing to Unity and Disunity

A. Biblical Examples of Leadership Unity

B. Struggles in Leadership Teams

1. Control Issues

2. Poor Communication

3. Different Gifting

4. Competition and Comparison

5. Biblically Unqualified Leaders

III. Maintaining Unity in Leadership

A. Addressing Pride, Differing Visions, and Limited Resources

  • 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
Unified Leadership (Part 1/2)
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] So let's talk about number two. Number two is the whole area of unified leadership. In 1987, I was pastoring a church in Pennsylvania and we faced a major crisis. In September that year, I learned that the volunteer director of our children's ministries, who was also the church organist, was married for 12 years and a member of that local church since the day he was born. I had contracted AIDS. Through homosexual activity and no one knew of his other life. Now 1987, if you remember, the history of AIDS was before most people in the general public were real knowledgeable about AIDS, including myself. It was there was actually widespread panic in this society as a result of this about how the disease was spread and so forth. In the following months, I worked tirelessly with this brother in Christ and his wife and his extended family. His sister was in the church. Her family was in the church. His his brother in law, his nephews, his nieces. His father was one of our elders. His mother, his brother was a prominent minister in another state in our denomination, his lifelong friends, all who were in this church. And I consulted with attorneys. I worked with our denominational leaders. The issues were extremely complex from a legal point of view, from a pastoral care point of view, from a medical point of view, from a church discipline point of view. It was a mess. Our church was one of the first in America actually, to deal with this kind of thing, at least in any kind of public way. How do you separate the sin from the sinner and the sin from the medical consequences of that sin? And it was just it was uncharted territory. In the first meeting of the church elders after I broke the news to them.

[00:02:26] And this was actually some months later, one elder commented, This could be the worst disaster we have ever faced. Another responded right after him. He said, With all due respect, I believe this could be our finest hour. So will conflict in our churches be perceived as a disaster? Or will it be one of our finest hours? The answer to these questions, as was the case in my pastoral experience, often depends on the quality of the church's leadership team. The church I pastored made it through that conflict crisis and is a vibrant minister today, large and partly and due to our elders and our pastoral staff. A massive dose of God's grace. I won't kid you. If your team is cohesive, committed, and gospel centered, you can make it through times of conflict and it will become your finest hour. But if you don't have that kind of team, it's dicey and you will definitely flirt with disaster. The difference between the two rest often in the leadership team. Have you experienced that in your own journey? What do you think? Is that too strongly stated or. Those of you that have been in leadership in the church. What do you think about that? Gray disagree. Let's reflect for a few moments. Read a scriptures tell us basically to expect. Hardship and challenge and difficulty. We should be preparing ourselves for that. And Hillary's job shouldn't be a surprise if we avoid or deny or. In reality, it's good for reality. We need to be willing to face these things. And see how we can have Christ Nielsen. And what does he. The Unified Leadership Class will offer support to which you definitely need. A unified leadership that has a view of the gospel that we're all in the same boat.

[00:05:05] You need to see Savior. If the team was unified there, then such a situation could could actually be their finest hour, because if it points to it's not managing sin, but it's point to the fact that we are all. CNN Central in some way or another, you can bring the church together. They were willing to to. Just to, you know, to see that we cried. Another church that I have kind of watched. It's super important to have the passion for the Gospel and Christ to be the leader instead of. I think it's so easy to get it confused that the head pastor is our leader. I mean, yes, he's our leader, but he should be it. We should all be going in the same direction. And I have observed the pastoral staff sort of implode on each other just because of a silly misunderstanding that happened from like an office prank that happened at a time when it was causing one person a little stressed because it was their thing that they have do. And it was. And so he was like, look, you know, I need to find these things that I need for the kids ministry or whatever that you guys have hidden. And they kind of turn that into, Oh, you're such a square. And then it was they didn't like him anymore. And then it was I mean, and so the idea then it was time, you know, just so you're on this, you're triangulated, you know, into the different teams and of of staff and that the head pastor was very controlling and then and so you have this it's about us it's not about the unified it's not about the gospel. And that's going in the same direction anymore.

[00:07:13] It's about working. Without. I think there needs to be good communication among the leadership and working through the different opinions and in the contract. But at the end of the day, they do need to be unified in the direction that we need to go. So it is not creating a confusion among those that they are leading. Well, let's get into a little bit of the detail, this issue of unity, because it is such a critical issue. The writer of Ecclesiastes said the one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A core of three strands is not quickly broken. Leaders can do amazing things. Is when there when there's a common bond of unity, when there are strong relationships, when there's love for each other, when there's an unconditional commitment to a common purpose. We see this unity illustrated in the early church in in Acts chapter six, for example, we saw the apostles were united and they were able to move quickly to resolve dispute over the distribution of food. You know the story about when the deacons were assigned and so forth. And then again in chapter 15, the leaders were united in in resolving tensions over the conversion of Gentiles. I've seen this kind of leadership unity, get churches through family meltdowns, through building programs, through financial crises, through restoring people that are in sin, through changing denominations, and even even using drums in the worship service. But beware, a dream team can turn into a nightmare. And it does happen and it happens can happen quickly. The united part requires constant. Attention. And it requires constant intention. Some years ago, the International Olympic Committee began allowing professional basketball players to compete in the Olympic Games. And that was the first time the USA put together a dream team.

[00:09:44] Quote, Dream team. And you probably remember that they crushed the opponents. They were unstoppable when the first Olympics they entered. But as they went on, the USA Olympic basketball teams became more a collection of talented individuals rather than a united team, and they lost to seemingly inferior players. The Dream team lost its way. Thankfully, they've regained their way now, but for a time they even began competing among themselves and it turned literally into a nightmare for our country. Some of the leadership teams that we see in the Bible work together very closely through thick and thin. Barnabas sponsored Saul into the church, mentored him as a young leader. And then it just kind of fell apart when they had a sharp disagreement over what would happen with John Mark. And so they went in their different directions. And there are some that justify that. But the point is they had a conflict that was not reconciled. And it it happens even to the best of us. And then there's Simon and Peter, these two giants of the early church. They got into an issue over circumcision. Paul seemed to be more Debbie and more than his share of scraps. I don't know if that's because he was an apostle or or what it was. Maybe it comes with the territory of being a church planter. I don't know. But Satan specializes in sowing conflict among leaders of the church. Sadly, I hear many pastors say my biggest struggle isn't dealing with the world out there. It's dealing with my own leadership team, is dealing with the very people that I work with day by day. And so these are real realities that why leadership is so critical, leadership struggles that lead to to this unity are obvious to us.

[00:11:49] Control the people, force their way on others within a team, often employing spiritual language to get their way. Poor communication, uh, leaders are called, I believe, to a higher standard of communication, and we'll get into communication in some depth when we get to the practical tools. But poor communication is one of the banes of the church. Different gifting. It's easy to assume that my gifts are the most important gifts within the church. And so if if I have the gift of discernment, then I must be more in tune with God than you. Competition there are. Well, let me say something about biblically unqualified leaders. Too often we assume I don't know what you think about this, but too often I think we assume that just because someone is an effective in the business world in a particular category, that that automatically qualifies them to lead in the church. So oftentimes we turn our governing boards into boards of directors, and it focused on strategic planning and budgeting, etc., which are all certainly important. But we underestimate how important it is to have this passion for the gospel, to understand the role of Shepherd and to be mature disciples of Christ, to lead the flock during times of crisis, in times of need. And then finally, there's competition Instead of cooperation, there's competitions, classic cases that deacons see their job as keeping the pastor in line to point out the faults. The pastor sees that his only boss is the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and so everybody else is answerable to him because he's answerable to them. And so it goes. What other struggles of leadership contribute to disunity among among the leadership team? Pride. Okay. Just plain old pride. Good. Others. Comparison is also competition.

[00:14:08] Okay. Differing visions can. Sometimes. Wreak havoc. So the point is each claiming they have the vision from God. Perhaps as a crass way to say it, it may not even be couched in that strong rhetoric, may just be the way we should see the way we should go. And there's this tension that starts to pull things apart. Because that's not managed but different commissions are managed for. Limited resources. So they're competing for the resources and then their own little kingdom and their own little ministry. And that can lead to this, really. Very limited resources. So just in a committee meeting this week and. One of the committee members brought to the team a vision for her ministry. And it was a well thought out approach to the vision. Basically, the resources were there to accomplish that. And so the answer was, no, you can't implement at this time. And so when the meeting ended, I approached that person and I said, You know, I really appreciate your passion and all the work that you and others have put into this proposal, but can I speak to you as a whole? Would that be okay? And she said, Yeah, So you're right. Now you're at risk because you put all this effort into it and you didn't get what you wanted and the devil will come after you and he will make you. It will want to lead you in the wrong direction. You want to send messages to you that will bring about bad things in your life and in others lives. And I said, So don't give them up for resisting. From this part of the struggle of patients. I want this and somebody else wants that. And how can we manage that without imploding? Very good example.

[00:16:54] Thanks for sharing that.


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