Into Thy Word -
If it is your desire to destroy and split a church, then simply have no plan to resolve staff disputes. Satan will just love you and your members will be disillusioned and spread bitterness and spiritual distraction to others. Of course, no one truly wants to do this, at least I hope not, so we need to have a plan and atmosphere to prevent and deal with conflicts in the upper management of the church, from the pastoral staff, secretaries, elders and various leaders.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
The pastoral staff may start off with a good relationship, but if there is not the proper format for discussions and communication, you will be laying out a landmine field that the whole congregation will have to tread over. A landmine field filled with distrust, blame, anger, bitterness, attacks and personal misconduct, where the Fruits of the Spirit have fermented and become rotten. An atmosphere of mistrust and tension will replace the true call of the church and the purpose of what we are supposed to be about. I have consulted and been to many such churches over the years, and it is a sad pathetic sight to see pastors arguing and staff meetings full of contempt and tension.
But there are simple steps to prevent this pathetic mess from ever happening.
First, there must be a clear agreement on key theological grounds, if not, a retreat where the Bible is opened and the senior minister goes over the areas of dispute for Biblical recognition. Minor points must be agreed to disagree, if not, the subordinate pastor should seek another call or seek moderation from the Denomination. Pastors must never try to divide and distract the church from its mission, especially in personality matters.
Second, open communication is a must. Each staff member should be able to go to each other and share their feelings and concerns without any reprisal, but with a listening ear. If a staff person refuses to agree with such a policy, they must seek employment elsewhere. Open communication is a tall sign of a healthy church. Closed communication channels is a sure sign that says, Land Mines Ahead. Thus everyone is to busy watching their steps to accomplish anything of significance for our Lord. Each member of the staff should and must be comfortable to express himself or herself in a clear healthy way so that confrontation is accepted and expected.
Third, and most importantly, the staff team must be in prayer with and for each other. Staff meetings should begin and end in prayer and be in significant time before our holy God in prayer. This will hone the relationship with each other and with God. The result will be cultivated leadership by modeling our Lord, where defensiveness falls aside and misunderstandings are quickly cleared up by the unity in Christ.
The senior staff person/people should be aware of the signs of potential conflict and quickly deal with it. Such signs as avoidance and withdrawal, contempt and over negative criticism, competition, defensiveness, blame, over accommodation, and collaboration. The head of staff needs to be in continual prayer and possess wisdom and discernment to exercise mediation, or should farm out staff conflicts to a third outside party, perhaps a pastor from another church in the same denomination. Most denominations have resources for you to use to have conflict management procedures (if yours does not, seek the resources from one that does), and a Employee handbook that lays out such procedures.
Pastors are walking targets of all kinds of attacks, from fellow pastors, from church members, and from Satan. So having a system to deal with conflict will alleviate 99% of it! Our fight is against the enemy of the ages, our fight is against the self-precepts that cloud our relationship with Christ, and our fight is not against each other. Yet Satan is happiest when we do fight with each other!
Ó R.J. Krejcir 1998, 2001 excerpt from the upcoming book Pew Sitting
Into Thy Word Ministries