How to Handle Conflict in the Church

church%20conflict.001The church should be the best in the world at handling conflict. We were taught by Jesus exactly how it is to be done. Yet we often side step the issue. We gossip. We talk about other people rather than to people. We avoid conflict.

If we handled conflict humbly, gently, and bravely, the church would be in much better shape. Plus, our testimony before the watching world would be better. So, how exactly did Jesus instruct Christians to handle conflict within the body of Christ?

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A platform for porn and a dialogue with the devil

A platform for porn and a dialogue with the devil

A few years ago my wife and I were invited to what was being called “The Great Porn Debate.” A Christian man who was anti-porn was going around the country with a famous porn actor and they were debating the question: Is porn harmful or helpful? They were debating this on college campuses, but the meeting we were invited to was in a church—a large church in San Diego where thousands of Christians would be exposed to a man who was going to try to convince the crowd that porn can be good for you and your marriage.

Needless to say, we declined — a decision for which I was subject to ridicule. I was called a Pharisee, and also I was mocked for being “afraid” to hear inappropriate language.

It did make me wonder, though: Should Christians allow debates like these to occur in our churches? Should we expose our congregations to worldly thinking and allow people to come in and attempt to convince our loved ones that the Bible is wrong, or that God is hateful and is holding back good things from us?

As I thought about that day, I’ve concluded that it’s never wise to allow false religions and worldly thinking onto our stages. And I have at least four reasons for saying that.

Truth shouldn’t be put on trial

Many of these so-called debates are supposed to be evangelistic, but my apologetic objects because God should never be put on trial. I don’t care if you are talking to an atheist, an imam, or a Buddhist monk: the God of the Bible does not need us to defend His existence. He is the I Am who has declared Himself in His Word and in every heart of man. The reason why non-believers neglect Him or replace Him with other religions is because they love their sin. Most of the time these dialogues and debates are done in order to defend God and to convince the other people of His existence through reasoning. But a God I can reason to is not a God worth worshiping.

Your congregation is weaker than you think

People need to be shepherded carefully. Of course we know that God is going to complete the work He started in each of his children (Phil 1:6). Of course we are told to contend for the faith. But we are also told protect the sheep from wolves.

Wolves bite and sheep tend to get bitten. I don’t care if you’re the greatest Christian on earth, the devil is strong and is able to attract your sheep. The lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life lures even the strongest Christians in our churches, and we must stand on guard. We need to keep the wolves out; we should never let them in because we think we can control these evil creatures whose sole purpose is to devour our sheep.

I am weaker than I think

As a shepherd, I am not as strong as I think I am. I am prone to question, to get discouraged, and to sin. I get angry and I am not as smart as I suppose myself to be.

I used to go alone to do evangelism but I do so less frequently now. I need the encouragement of others as I talk to unbelievers mainly because I am prone to get discouraged and doubt as much as anyone else in my church. Any debator or pastor must not be so prideful as to think, “I can expose my people to these wolves, because I’m able to argue in such a way that will be able to keep my sheep safe.” This is the height of arrogance and something we should repent of.

People don’t get saved through dialogues

Over the course of church history many people have compromised in order to win skeptics. From seminary scholars who compromise on the miracles in the Bible or the dating of books, to the various coalitions between Roman Catholics and evangelicals, compromise has often beguiled the church. Today it looks like friendly dialogues between Islamic leaders and Christians, but remember: none of these dialogues bring about what we want.

Complimenting wolves in sheep’s clothing on how great their clothes look is not being winsome. It’s being unwise. We must remember that salvation comes through hearing and hearing through God’s word, therefore we must defend it and declare it without holding back or compromising it at all. We mustn’t let the wolves in, and we must expose them for what they are.

Of course, it must be said that those who do choose to expose their people to these men and women don’t become apostates upon doing so. If a pastor held a dialogue with a Muslim leader at his church, I wouldn’t question his salvation or his motives (unless he has proven himself to be a false teacher over time). It is possible to be a faithful man of God and faithful evangelist and choose to do the opposite of what is said in this blog post, remembering that one day we will all stand before God and give an account of what we’ve done.

But with that said, the longer I am in the ministry, the more I am convinced that hosting dialogues with porn producers or local imams are not only counterproductive, but potentially spiritually dangerous.

9 Actions to Consider This Sunday

Here are nine servant actions for you to consider.
  1. Pray as you enter the property. Pray for the guests. Pray for the services. Pray for the pastor and the sermon.
  2. Park at the most distant spot available. Save the closer parking places for guests.
  3. Greet people. They may be guests. They may be members. It’s okay to introduce yourself to either.
  4. Look for people to help. You know the place well. Many others will not. Be a guide. Help someone who looks like he or she needs help.
  5. Sit as close as possible to the front of the worship center. Save the back rows for guests and late entrants, so they don’t have to walk past so many people.
  6. Sit in the middle. Don’t claim that aisle seat where people have to walk over you or past you.
  7. Sit closely. Your worship center may be packed. If so, be willing to sit cheek to cheek.
  8. Volunteer to serve. As the number of attendees increase, so does the need for volunteers. parking lot help, & the church greeter ministry are a few of the areas that will need more volunteers to help serve and minister to members and guests.
  9. Pray as you leave. The Holy Spirit is likely working in many persons who attended. Pray for His continual work of conviction and comfort.

These are simple acts. They are acts of service. And if you survive doing these acts of kindness and service on Easter, you just might be able to do them on other days of worship as well.

The Religion of Sinners!



The Religion of Sinners

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9

We must beware of deceiving ourselves in denying or excusing our sins. The more we see them–the more we shall esteem and value the remedy.

The Christian religion is the religion of sinners–of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells.

The Christian life is a life of . . .
continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin,
continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and
hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished forever!

“He will save His people from their sins!” Matthew 1:21

(adapted from Matthew Henry)