The goal of this dissertation is twofold: first, to evaluate the preparation that Assemblies of God pastors receive in conflict management training; secondly, to develop an appropriate training tool that will assist them in managing church conflict in a biblical and practical manner.
The author begins by sharing his experience of battling conflicts in a twenty-one year span in the pastorate. Then, he conducts an analysis of his conflict management style. The author’s perspective on church conflict establishes the foundation of this project. Next, the importance of conflict management training for pastors is discussed. God’s will for a unified church in contrast to Satan’s plan to cause divisions through the selfishness of Christians presents pastors with many challenging situations.
Are pastors prepared to manage conflicts, especially those found in Assemblies of God churches? Surveys of Assemblies of God pastors, district superintendents, and Bible colleges indicate that there is a great need for pastors to be better prepared for church conflicts. The Bible is filled with many examples of conflicts some of which were managed well and others that were not. The author develops a sound theology for church conflict management. The literature review of the writings on this subject found some good material, most of which was written in the current decade. However, little was written from a pastoral perspective for the specific training of pastors for church conflict management.
The conclusion of the author was that a four-hour seminar would be the best contribution that he could make to help other pastors acquire skills in church conflict management. He chose this teaching tool over a book or a college course, because he felt that a seminar format would be more practical. The first lesson of the seminar exposes pride as the root cause of conflict, and discusses the contributing factors of anger, prejudice, and communication. Lesson two explains the five major responses to conflict. It is designed to assist the pastor in understanding his conflict management style and adapting his style so that he will respond appropriately to each conflict. In the third lesson, the issues of church conflict that are found in I Corinthians are examined. Biblical principles for resolving conflicts that are unique to churches are established. The fourth lesson instructs and encourages pastors to equip their leaders and members to be peacemakers, instead of peacebreakers and peacefakers. Peacebreakers cause conflict, peacefakers avoid conflict, but peacemakers look for God’s way to resolve and manage conflict.
If pastors are adequately prepared to manage church conflict, the church will be led into unity, harmony, and peace. Then, the church will be the healthy and beautiful bride of Christ that attracts non-believers to the good news of salvation.