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.

Kathryn Jensen, Robyn Song and Christine Wanstall – a historic day for BUV Ordination

This year, the BUV held an ordination service on Saturday, 27 February at Mill Park Baptist Church. This was the rescheduled service that would have occurred in October 2020 had we not been in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. If this is not history-making enough, the service was a celebration of the setting apart of three women to pastoral leadership – perhaps the first time in the history of ordination within the BUV that the ordinands standing before God and their sisters and brothers in Christ, and vowing to honour the call of God on their lives, were all women

Kathryn Jensen from Mill Park Baptist Church, Robyn Song from Bentleigh and Korean Baptist Church, and Christine Wanstall from the BUV Church Health and Capacity Building Team brought inspiring words of commitment and vision, as they shared their stories of obedience to God’s call to service as pastoral leaders.

All three paid tribute to the pioneering women who had gone before them; all three testified to the work of the Spirit within their lives and ministry; all three celebrated the importance of their faith communities as companions along the way to ordination and all three proclaimed a vision of a great God who continues to call them into partnership in God’s redemptive and restorative work in the world.

It was an inspiring service. Our only regret is that attendance was restricted to a limited number due to COVID-safe regulations.

This year, as we look forward to the ordination of fourteen candidates in October, we hope that we will be able to return to an open invitation service. As we journey through this new year of training and formation, we thank God for these leaders and the nineteen other men and women in the accreditation and ordination formation program that God is continuing to call, transform and equip for pastoral leadership within our BUV churches.

Kathryn Jensen from Mill Park Baptist Church

Pastor Kathryn Jensen is the Care and Connect pastor Mill Park Baptist Church. She is responsible for all of the church’s pastoral care and Life Groups as well as working part-time as a counsellor at the Mill Park Community Care. Kathryn loves seeing people of all ages, stages and cultures gathered together under the name of Jesus, and sees the local church as the hope of the world.

Robyn Song from Bentleigh and Korean Baptist Church

Pastor Robyn Song is the pastor for the English service at Bentleigh and Korean Baptist Church and a serving member of the BUV multicultural ministry group. Robyn made her mark in the Baptist world by becoming one of the first ever female Korean pastors. She is a passionate advocate for women to take up their calling and be inspired for change, and for the existing church leadership to give more opportunities, training and encouragement for women to become leaders and changemakers.

Christine Wanstall from the BUV Church Health and Capacity Building Team

Pastor Christine Wanstall is part of the BUV Church Health and Capacity Building Team as a Church Health Consultant. She has been involved in a variety of church settings in both paid and volunteer positions including worship pastor, playgroup coordinator, children’s leader and women’s ministry coordinator. Christine believes strongly in the local church (both small and large and everything in-between) and works towards helping the local church into bringing the kingdom of God in all and every situation into seeing redemption and restoration happen.