For Pastors: How Do You Handle Church Politics

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by saturneptune, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    Each Baptist church is a unique entity and has its own character. Being autonomous, there is a great diversity amongst Baptist churches from form of government, to membership requirements, to the details of the bylaws.

    Tom Butler and I are very blessed to be in a church where the deacons serve the congregation and Pastor, there are no cliques, and very few conflicts. We had a rocky past from about forty years ago, and learned to disagree in a Christ like manner.

    One of the biggest challanges for any Pastor is leading the local church that the Lord has called him to serve in. Since I have never been in that position, I can only imagine the complexity and stress of some situations that develop in some congregations. We have one large Baptist church in the local area that cannot get a pastor to take the job because of a past history of politics and power grabs by various groups. The salary is in the six figures.

    It seems that conflict in a church centers around members being self centered. It can take the form of deacons who think they are elders, cliques of members at the top of the social ladder, members who think they are entitled to an office or job for life, or any other mindset that does not edify the church.

    My question to pastors, or other leaders, is how have you handled bringing all of the different factions together to make the church function in a Christ like manner? How do you advise the offending parties about being servents instead of power grabbers? Has it ever gotten so bad that you went to another church?

    Any stories or remarks are appreciated. I very much admire anyone called by the Lord who can work through the maze of conflict. Sometimes it can be quite complex and confusing. God grant you the patience, goodness, insight, love, and people skills to get through these situations.
     
    #1 saturneptune, Jul 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2012
  2. Mexdeaf

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    I am not a "big" church pastor, so maybe my experiences don't count, but there is conflict in smaller assembles also. What I have learned is that, first of all, I as the leader have to learn not to take things personally. Sometimes my reaction (or lack thereof) can make things worse. Secondly I always try to get people to focus on Jesus, thirdly I emphasize following the formula in Matthew 18.

    Conflict is not always bad- and it will never disappear. It is how we respond to it and handle it that makes it either bad or good.
     
  3. Salty

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  4. DiamondLady

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    I'm obviously not a pastor, but I can share what I have observed our pastor do. He prays. While that sounds very simplistic, and I suppose it could be viewed as such, when there are highly charged issues, divided factions, or other political differences he will lead in prayer before the discussion and ask God to lead the folks. I've literally felt the "electrical charge" in the room dissapate when he's done this, and watched the business meeting or confrontation go smoothly afterwards.
     
  5. saturneptune

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    Prayer would be a vital element. Prayer should extend to those causing the "electric charge." There is nothing more destructive to the unity of a local church than a group of deacons that think they are a governing authority or a clique of members that think they run the show. The sin in all of this is pride and power on the part of those creating the problem.
     
  6. USN2Pulpit

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    Good question!

    I pastor a church in rural mid-south Missouri with an attendance on any given Sunday of between 60 - 80. Even that number cycles with summer vacations, opening of Oklahoma small-mouth season, deer season, basketball season, etc....

    I would have to say - based on my experience - that the pastor doesn't always know what the cliques are or who's in them! I would also honestly say that when I perfect the art of getting all the people together, I'll let you know! I'm definetly not there yet, but we're making progress!

    The church is a dynamic group of people - always changing it seems. Yet certain elements seem to remain the same.

    I was advised before I became a pastor that I must know who my deacons and church leaders are - and I must also know who the "power brokers" in the church are. Hate to say it, but almost every church has them, and they may not have any official title at all, but without their approval, things just seem to not go as well as they could.

    Anyway, I was told "find out who these people are!"

    As has been pointed out before...prayer is a vital element. That's both private and corporate.

    Like I said, when I get it all figured out, I'll let you know!
     
  7. ktn4eg

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    WOW!! Don't I know what church politics can do!!

    While I've never been "called 2 preach," I can still remember what God allowed me 2 experience back abt 1968-69.

    Some background might help.

    I was saved Apr 1966 in Tucson AZ. While my family was "religious" (We all we're members of what we'd call the "New" Mennonites, in a small town abt 25-30 mi NW of Philly), I NEVER heard any Gospel msgs!! God had 2 take me all the way from my hometown 2 Tucson (courtesy of the USAF) 2 get me 2 an IFB church (Metroplitan BC) 4 me 2 hear the Gospel. I don't have 2 tell any of my BB family what happened next!!

    ANYWHO, here I am, abt 1k mi from home, a babe in Christ, & find God now sending me 2 Ramstein AB in [West] Germany. No car, no fellow Christians (Bapt or otherwise) when He leads me 2 what was then called Landstuhl Bapt Mission. (Landstuhl is a big Army town basically just across the autobahn from Ramstein--Salty can tell Uall all 'bout it!!).

    So here I am, only abt 1 YO in Jesus, & naturally, I hook up w/ LBM. Long story short, when Bro Jerry M Briggs ("mission pastor") gets released from AD @ Sembach AB abt 1968, goes home 2 marry "Sis Briggs," & returns back 2 Landstuhl, his goal was 2 have LBM eventually become an autonomous BC.

    U must keep in mind that LBM wasn't...shall we say...the biggest mega-church in the area. Counting dependents, we were @ the most 25 souls.

    Well, the bro who was in charge of mid-week svcs felt that "his turf" was threatened now w/Bro Briggs coming on full-time. Now that Bro Briggs wanted LBM 2 B an "Indy" church....U all no the "rest of the story" I'm sure.

    While I was still "new 2 the game" re church turf wars, the faction that supported Bro Briggs knew that if ANY progress could B made, we'd all have 2 B "In 1 accord," i.e., back the pastor. Well, 1 Sun nite we had "THE business meeting," w/the result being 2/3s to 3/4 of ALL the people on the other bro's side experiencing a "back-door" revival.

    I was devastated! Why didn't God bring those folks back 2 support the pastor? my heart/mind was telling me. U all know what Bro Briggs told the remaining few!! PTL, our prayers WERE answered.....the remaining members of LBM WERE "in 1 accord"!!! Needless 2 say, the next couple months, the remaining "2 or 3 gathered 2gether" [Literally!] experienced the sweetest fellowship we had since Bro Briggs came back!

    All this 2 tell U, that THIS was just 1 reason why God sent me 2 [West] Germany. (BTW, I'd volunteered 4 'Nam just as soon as I could where I was stationed @ Davis-Monthan AFB!) Had I not been there, I'd probably never know what church politics can do 2 a pastor.

    Need I say anymore?
     
  8. Tom Butler

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    As saturneptune can attest, we've been through our share of difficulties over the years. But for the past 25 years or so, our harmony has been great.

    We went through a lot of conflict related to our relocating our church. and some of us vowed we'd never be part of another church fight unless it involved heresy.

    But to be part of a conflict just to get my way--uh uh.

    I chair our deacons. We adopted the view that when it comes to the direction of the church, the pastor should get the benefit of the doubt.

    Further, we decided that it was our responsibility to protect the pastor from those who wanted to run the church. So we put a fence around him.

    Does that mean we never disagree. By no means. But personally, I have vowed that when my pastor and I have a disagreement, he and I will be the only ones who know it.

    Our deacons have learned that when we considered ourselves a "board," conflict would inevitably follow down the road. Since we consider ourselves servants, we've gotten along with our pastor and with each other and seen great harmony among our church family.

    Once you've been through a church fight, you'll do almost anything to prevent it from happening again.
     
  9. mont974x4

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    2Ti 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
    2Ti 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
    2Ti 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
    2Ti 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
    2Ti 4:5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.




    We must not mistake the "spirit of unity" for what the Bible calls us to, which is unity in the Spirit. This is centered in the truth of God's Word and it must be our standard. While we always try to maintain peace and bring people into repentance and restoration we have to be willing to upset people, and even lose people, for the sake of the flock.

    I have been in to many churches where peace at all costs was the standard. It was horrible, hypocritical, and drove people who are passionate about Christ to leave.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    I'm not advocating peace at any price. Most conflicts are not over principle, they are over who gets his way--power struggles.

    My view is peace, as far as possible.
     
  11. mont974x4

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    I'm sorry. I didn't mean to seem like I was accusing anyone here. I was simply pointing out my experience. The problem with those power struggles is they involve sin. People are unwilling to submit to the men God has placed in leadership over them. It is rebellion. Far to often I here, "Oh, that's just "Fred" being "Fred". It isn't worth arguing about." The issue itself may be some insignificant issue but the problem of rebellion, gossip, and bullying goes unchecked and does far more damage than almost anything else in the church. There is very little done to get to the real, deeper issues at play.
     

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