8 Reasons Church Conflicts Often Burn Out of Control Quickly

As a pastor, I sometimes felt like I spent all my time putting out fires in the church. It might have been right for me to deal with the fires, but I seldom caught the fire before it started burning more brightly than I wanted. Here’s why the fires of church conflict often burn out of control quickly:

  1. Church leaders have too little training in resolving conflict. What we have learned, we’ve often learned the hard way: in the middle of a conflict, and then primarily through our failures.
  2. We face a supernatural enemy who delights in conflict. From the Garden of Eden, Satan has sought to turn followers of God against other followers. He’s sly – and viciously and quickly divisive.
  3. Kindling for conflict sometimes lies all over the congregation. That’s what happens when internal conflicts smolder throughout the church. Each “conflict” may be small, but the combination of many conflicts creates ready-made fuel.  
  4. Nobody’s paying attention to sparks. I’m amazed by how many leaders are caught off guard when their congregation erupts in flames. That usually means the leaders are too disconnected from their people.
  5. Some church members specialize in fueling fires. We’ve probably all met them in a church somewhere. They delight in creating conflict and spreading gossip, sometimes deceitfully so under the guise of “prayer requests.” 
  6. Undiscipled people aren’t equipped to deal with potential fires. They’re still babies in Christ – and babies don’t recognize the danger of fires. Actually, somebody must rescue them, or they’ll get burned, too.
  7. Some congregations have a history of fires. They’ve almost burned down in conflict so many times before that fires have become the norm. When a fire’s always burning, it doesn’t take much to become a conflagration.
  8. Everything’s dry. The preaching is boring. Evangelism isn’t happening. The worship music puts people to sleep. Nobody’s talking about missions. Young people are nowhere to be found. When everything’s dry, one small spark can quickly consume it all.

Any reasons you would add to this list? 

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