Summary: Church conflicts are inevitable. However, they can be solved if churches will step up to the plate and deal with them early.
Conquering Church Conflict Before It Conquers You
Introduction: Today, I want to talk to you about two little words that no one wants to hear, but everyone, who goes to church long enough, will most likely have to deal with…CHURCH CONFLICT. Those two words are enough to send cold chills down the spine of any church member. Whenever people interact with each other, especially within bonds of an intimate social relationship such as a church, conflict is always a possibility. After all, we are sinners by nature and tend to gravitate toward advancing our own desires and opinions.
In this passage, we see the very first recorded conflict in the early church and how the apostles handled this situation. This conflict led to the establishment of the office of deacon (And the church has been conflicted ever since! Not necessarily the fault of the deacons) Believe it or not, conflict can bring about positive change in the life of the church. Let us see what we can learn from this passage that will help the church survive and thruve through conflict.
I. CHURCH CONFLICT IS INEVITABLE (v. 1)
a. It often arises when a church is growing
b. It begins with a whisper and grows from there (Secret murmuring) (James 3:5-6)
c. It either begins or begets factionalism (Hellenists vs. Pure Jews)
d. It often has a legitimate cause which is multiplied by underlying issues (
e. It places the good name of the church and our Lord in jeopardy within the community (Acts 2:46-47, 5:13)
f. Church conflict is the devil’s delight! (God is into addition and multiplication. The devil is into division and subtraction.)
II. CHURCH CONFLICT MUST BE INTERRUPTED BEFORE IT ESCALATES (vv 2-5)
a. The apostles wisely chose to seek a solution to the situation before it erupted into a full blown division. How do we respond to the possibility of church conflict?
i. We can choose to ignore it and hope it goes away
ii. We can fan the conflict into flames and split the church
iii. We can intervene in a Godly manner and seek resolution
b. Everyone has an answer when it comes to resolving church conflict, but only God has a solution. (Notice v. 5a)
i. Prayer birthed answer
ii. Consensus based answer (Not democratic)
iii. It was an equitable answer (Notice, all of these names were Greek names)
III. CONQUERING CHURCH CONFLICT BRINGS RESTORED INFLUENCE (v. 7)
a. The gospel was more and more successful once the conflict was resolved (Conflict hinders the gospel message)
b. God added more believers to their number
c. Even a great number of priests (Mostly Sadducees) in Jerusalem surrendered their hearts to Christ (We don’t know how many, but there were thousands of priest in Jerusalem at that time)