Three opening facts:
1. Diversity in the church includes differences in age, gender, ethnicity, economics, education, personalities, temperaments, interests, hobbies, philosophies of life and family, tastes in music, etc….
2. God’s design and desire is for our diversity to become a source for service and unity.
3. Yet these differences are too often a source of conflict in the church.
1. How can we harness our differences for the glory of God and for the unity of the Church?
2. How can we restrain or temper the differences so that they are not a continual source of conflict?
“Virtually all theorists of conflict management agree that parties to a conflict must share larger or ultimate values in common as a basis on which to resolve their differences.” (Managing Church Conflict, Hugh Halverstadt,p. 212)
Essentials for conflict resolution:
1. Dealing with conflict as a moral, ethical endeavor: a self-conscious applied Christian ethic in light of a Christian worldview.
2. Parties of conflict are seen as Christian ‘responders’ to conflict situations, responsible selves before God.
3. Managing conflict is advocated as a practical way of exercising a ministry of reconciliation rather than only an expedient way of securing personal or ecclesial survival.
4. A doctrine of the church as a communal power or spirit that is critical for managing church conflict.
5. A method of thinking theologically and responding ethically to conflictive situations. (Halverstadt, pp. 10-11)
“Changing the family rules (and structures of communal process) of a congregation or other church body can yield more Christian reconciliation than just dealing with the behaviors of the immediate parties to the conflict.” (Ibid. p. 11) “Ground rules and procedures mobilize communal power for responsible constraint or resolution as a people of God.” (Ibid. p. 12)