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Church conflict is nothing new. It is not the result of polarization and politicization in 21st-century American church life. In fact, nearly as soon as the church was birthed, growing pains arrived (see Acts 6).

In one sense, church conflict is not bad and is inevitable. Think of it as an opportunity to improve your relationships with others. As your nervous system enables you to feel the pain to protect your health, so the health of the fellowship in the church is enhanced when we feel the pain of conflict--that is if we seek the Great Physician for the cure. Cancer moves from treatable to terminal if warning signs are neglected. Is your church family having some squabbles? You ignore it to the peril of the local body of believers.

Sometimes an arbiter can be used to help the conflict be resolved in a productive way. I would be grateful to be used of God, should you think that helpful. Yet, I can only be a tool--it is the hands of God that must bring healing.

We are hearing of more and more conflict in churches and those who have been for some time having a family feud are finding it intensifying. I am praying for forgiveness and reconciliation among our churches. Conflict will come sooner or later. The crucial question is will you confront it? Or will you ignore it and hope it goes away on its own? Maybe you will go to war and try to beat down the opposition or run them off. Neither approach--flight or fight--is God's way.

Praying for Unity,

Dennis Thurman, AMS

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