Posted by: morgan1965 | February 17, 2010

Conflict Resolution in a Partnership Ministry

My theology of local church administration and organization has at its center the practice of partnership ministry. Partnership ministry is the practice of ministry where clergy and laity work together as a team, as partners, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. There are no loners in a partnership ministry. Laity and clergy are learning and growing together as they do together the work of ministry.

In a partnership ministry there is open communication and dialogue. Clergy and laity learn to listen to each other as they listen to God for God’s wisdom and guidance. A partnership ministry is undergirded by fellowship and worship together. Bible study is a regular enterprise.

Even in the context of partnership ministry, it is possible that conflicts might arise in the congregation. Conflicts can emerge among the laity, and conflicts can erupt between the laity and the pastor. No conflict of any kind in a congregation is healthy, but pastor and laity conflicts are often very damaging and disruptive if not dealt with in a timely manner.

Let me hasten to say that it is my belief that there will be less conflict when there is open dialogue and conversation between the pastor and the laity. But, what do you do when there is a conflict between yourself and your pastor?

Perhaps there are some steps that can be utilized to resolve pastor/laity conflicts in a partnership ministry. Such conflict resolution is characterized by the willingness for the pastor and the lay person to talk with each other. First, begin the conversation with prayer. Second, listen to each other with intensity and respect.

It is helpful to remember four steps when you believe that a conflict exists:

• Talk to your pastor. [Pastor, talk with your lay people.]
• Talk with your Pastor-Parish Relations Committee
• Talk with the pastor and the PPRC together.
• Talk with your District Superintendent. [This should be a last resort.]
• Talk to God before, during and after the conflict is resolved. [Prayer]

Conflict resolution in a partnership ministry requires the partners to treat each other with love and respect.

How are conflicts resolved in your local church?

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