Ministry is a lot like riding a roller coaster (if you like roller coasters). Ministry has moments where God is moving in the church and you feel like you are climbing sky high. You feel like you are about to touch down on cloud nine. However, sometimes things begin to fall apart and you feel like you are spiraling downhill out of control. This is when you feel like loosing your stomach.
Ministry can be difficult, but in my opinion, serving the bride of Christ can be one of the most fulfilling positions on the planet. Nevertheless, when a conflict in the church arises, many pastors either don’t know how to respond or respond wrongly. Conflict can be a breeding ground for growing your leadership influence within the church you serve.
One of the most difficult times to deal with conflict is during a corporate gathering. The scenario plays out that a disgruntled member confronts the pastor in front of a small or large crowd of witnesses. This can elevate the tension for everyone in the room. Typically, when tension elevates, so does the emotions and the tone of one’s voice. How does a pastor appropriately respond? What is the best way for a pastor to respond?
Here are the 4 Cs that our staff uses to handle conflict in a corporate setting:
- Care for the person. One of the best ways to calm down the disgruntled church member is to acknowledge their anger, and say something like, “I really appreciate you bringing this to my attention.” This reaction shows you care about them as a person and their concern(s). It doesn’t matter if you agree with their anger or not. You have acknowledged that they have been heard as a brother or sister in Christ.
- Control the situation. After you have shown you care about them as a person, control the situation by indicating that this is not the time or the place to have this discussion. Say something like, “I had no idea this was an issue. May we schedule a time to meet and discuss this problem further?” Encourage them that you want to hear them out completely, and tell them you want to give them your full undivided attention at a later date. Don’t return with anger or attitude back at the disgruntled member. Respond with gentleness and love. These types of responses will keep everyone else calm, and hopefully calm down the person who is angry, too.
- Circumvent back to the intended purpose of your gathering. If you are at church for a service, meeting, or time of prayer, indicate to the group that you are at the church for a particular reason. Explain why everyone has gathered that morning, afternoon, or evening, and follow your purpose of gathering with prayer. Therefore, identify the purpose of the gathering and pray for the gathering in order to quickly move to your designated agenda.
- Continue like nothing happened. The fourth C seems to be the most difficult of all the others. Many pastors are shepherds and have big hearts. Public conflicts can be difficult to overcome because some of us take them so personally. Great leaders let those types of out bursts roll off, and they get back to working for the Lord. Continuing like nothing happened creates two reactions from the audience: First, if you continue on like nothing happened, the people won’t think that moment was a big deal to you. They see their leader in a stoic like fashion. Second, it lets the one who confronted you know that they can’t throw you off your game. You are here to serve the Lord, and you are going to follow through regardless of any incident that comes your way.
Leading in the church is the most rewarding, but can also be the most challenging. However, if leading God’s church were easy, everyone would be doing it. My goal is to prepare you and my staff now for incidents that we might face in ministry. Therefore, we can handle these types of scenes with grace and poise, and our godly example will be noted by all. People are willing to follow a godly pastor who responds to a corporate church conflict with the 4 Cs.