Professional Development for pastors to handle conflict.

Story by Rev Jonathan Stark, Head of BUV Pastoral Leadership Support & Development

A group of pastors from churches around Victoria gathered on line and there was just one item on the agenda – conflict. In fact the whole day was about “Facing Conflict Well” and the BUV Pastoral Leadership Support and Development team provided input and facilitated discussion.

Many pastors feel unprepared for conflict when they begin ministry. The church is a community of people who gather in Jesus’ name and so many are surprised when conflict arises in the midst of Christian community. But conflict arises when people who are in community disagree with each other. When a pastoral leader is passionate about leading God’s people, conflict can and often does arise. And when a ministry ends due to conflict pastors often regret not facing the conflict sooner.

So, pastors went online to understand how to face conflict well.

We were helped to explore and understand five different personal conflict styles (based on Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model) and how these might affect how we respond to conflict. Some can be forceful like a bull and others can be accommodating like a cuddly koala. We had input to help identify different types of difficult people who we may face in our churches, and the ways we can minister to them and understand their needs.

We were encouraged to think about how to actually engage in conflict and the steps we could take. We began by asking ourselves how we might honour and please God in this situation, then made sure we got the log out of our own eyes before seeking to actually engage gently by speaking the truth in love, all the while seeking to reconcile.

Throughout the day a real highlight was hearing two pastors share from their own experience how they had experienced and faced conflict in their ministry. Their insights were very helpful to all who attended. As the day concluded, we identified together the many gifts available to pastors when facing conflict. Among the many gifts were the help from leadership in the church, peers at clusters, and support from the BUV Hub.

One pastor reflected on the day as being so important and timely for pastoral leaders that they wished all Baptist pastors had been able to participate. The day was one of the BUV’s pastoral leadership development days called EDGE 10:10. These days are aimed at helping pastors grow by sharpening their skills.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.”


Look out for details about our next EDGE 10:10 on June 9 and don’t forget to register today to connect with other pastors for Nourish, a day especially for pastors on May 21.