Church Conflict by the Book
July 17, 2014
By Martine Bates Sharp
David Noble. Kansas City, Mo.: BHC Publishing, 2013. 271 pp. (Paperback).
Church conflict. Is there anyone who has attended church for long and hasn’t experienced conflict, at least to a degree? Conflict can tear congregations apart, disrupt relationships and destroy the witness of the Church.
Some interesting and heartbreaking statistics were presented in the book: more than 19,000 congregations experience conflict every year, and of those, only 2 percent are over doctrinal issues. The rest are interpersonal; a survey of pastors revealed 85 percent of the conflicts are over control issues. Sadly only 16 percent of pastors reported positive outcomes from their conflict.
What if there was a way to stop church conflict, to turn it around so that it becomes an opportunity for growth rather than all-out war? Author David Noble is convinced that there is — and his advice is persuasive. Laying the blame squarely at the feet of Satan, the enemy of the Church, Noble writes starkly of the way Christians allow themselves to be used by Satan, how to recognize when we are the guilty parties (probably more often than any of us wants to recognize, much less admit) and how we can show love and serve as peacemakers.
There is a study guide that accompanies the book; I suspect that any church, whether currently experiencing conflict or not, would benefit studying “Church Conflict by the Book.”