Editorial: Over the years, Bill Hybels has learned to deal with conflict. As pastor of the influential and innovative Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, he and his team have discovered the following 10 nonnegotiable principles that guide the way they approach conflict.  These are taken from the full-length article found on Christianity Today by following this link.

  • Expect Conflict.  Learn to expect disagreement – forceful disagreement. Unity isn’t the word to use to describe relationship, even in a church.  The popular concept of unity is a fantasyland where disagreements never surface and contrary opinions are never stated with force. Instead of unity, use the word community, which suggests that there will be significant differences, but the relationships are important enough to withstand the differences.
  • Pursue Reconciliation. The mark of community – true, biblical unity – is not the absence of conflict.
  • Stay true to Scripture. Never tolerate biblical infidelity, a discounting of the clear teaching of Christ.
  • Adhere to the vision.  Expect lay and staff leaders to be on board with the basic vision of the church.
  • Commit to verbal discipline. What does this mean… check out the article!
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  • Deal with conflict directly. When a leader’s nose gets bent out of joint—not if but when—that leader has a biblical responsibility to take the high road of conflict resolution. That means going directly to the person with whom the leader is in conflict rather than building a guerrilla team to ambush this person later.
  • Have regular “check-ins.” If a leader senses tension with someone, he or she can sit down and say, “I just need to check in with you. Is everything okay between us?”
  • Ignore the small stuff. A man once told me: “When you swim in the ocean, you get attacked by sharks and guppies. Don’t worry about the guppies.”
  • Redeem criticism. In my early years of ministry, I rebutted people who wrote to me and said I had offended them or hurt their feelings. After several years of this, I thought, What if I just said, “Thank you for writing me and expressing your hurt. I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to hurt you. Please forgive me.” Soon after implementing this approach, I began receiving letters saying, “Thank you for your letter. You don’t know how much that meant to me.” Many people just want to know if their pastor is a safe person. Can he respond to hurt with compassion? Does he care as much about relationships as he does his sermon material?
  • Respond with vulnerability. Handling conflict well is essentially an issue of maturity, and leading a church to community, to true biblical unity, begins with its leader.

Take a moment and get the full article from Christianity Today!  Let’s become well equipped at dealing with conflict and crisis in a biblical, Christ-like manner.

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