Posts Tagged ‘how anxiety produces church conflict’

I did something last Friday that I shouldn’t have done … and hopefully will never do again.

What was it?

At their parents’ request, I picked up two elementary age children from their school … and it was a nightmare.

The father teaches at the school, and the mother had to be away, so they needed someone to watch their boys for the afternoon, and my wife has done it before.

I arrived at the school ten minutes early … but nothing prepared me for the chaos that ensued.

Along with other vehicles, I moved into the left hand lane to turn into the school’s turnaround area.

We didn’t budge for at least 15 minutes.

But some cars began zipping past me on the right.  Where were they going?

The cars drove down the road … made a left … then made a U-turn … and came back toward the school so they could turn right into the parking lot ahead of those of us turning left!

Another woman drove up next to the cars in my line on the right … and then made an illegal U-turn in front of everybody!

It was absolute chaos … and nobody was directing traffic.

I finally turned left into the parking lot … looked everywhere for the boys amid a sea of faces … and couldn’t find them.

So I stopped the car next to the curb … stood up outside to get a better view … and was promptly reprimanded by a school official, who ordered me to get back into my car.

(All I was thinking was, “God, please don’t make me leave the turnaround area and go through that mess again!”)

We finally located the boys … they jumped into my car … and we traveled at a snail’s pace until we came to a fork.

Go right … and you’re stuck in an immovable line of cars making their way back to the street.

Go left … and you drive through some cones blocking the entrance to the street … but it was the quickest way out.

The chaos in that parking lot reminded me of three truisms about church conflict:

First, when people become anxious, they make up their own rules.

Some parents who were trying to pick up their kids didn’t care about propriety … or traffic laws … or taking turns.

So they cut in front of other vehicles … took shortcuts … and put others at risk.

I told the school official about some of the lawbreaking drivers … but the school had no plans to police incoming parents.

When major conflict surfaces in a church, some churchgoers forget they’re Christians and act like pagans instead.

They ignore everything Scripture has to say about conflict.

They spread nasty rumors without verifying their truthfulness.

They join the mob trying to force their pastor to quit.

And in the process, they model chaos for their families … new believers … and unbelievers.

But what’s worse is that it appears as if nobody is in charge.

If conflict ever breaks out in your church, remind people of what Scripture says about conflict resolution … or anarchy may result.

Second, when people become anxious, their focus becomes narrow.

Some parents who were picking up their kids were so intent upon finding their wee ones that they didn’t seem to notice anybody else.

The evidence?  Their selfish driving and lack of consideration.

When we become anxious, we block out the world around us, and focus on what’s troubling us.

Have you ever lost your child inside a store?

You don’t notice the merchandise on the shelves … or the people in your way … because you only have eyes for your child.

And you only expand your horizons when your child has been located.

When a church has a major conflict, people tend to focus on one person: the pastor.

In their minds, he’s either caused the conflict, or hasn’t stopped it … so he’s gotta go.

Anxious Christians fail to ask questions … do any investigative work … or hear from the other side.

They can’t see the bigger picture … that the devil is trying to destroy their congregation … so they join the mob … and the enemy smiles.

If conflict ever breaks out in your church, work hard to get people to see the bigger picture … or your pastor is toast.  

Finally, when people become anxious, they’ll do anything to find relief.

To leave that school in a hurry, some parents will willing to break the law … outrage other drivers … and risk injuries to their children and vehicles.

And when a major conflict surfaces inside a congregation, people … even God’s people … will do almost anything to make the conflict go away.

They don’t want to learn the truth about what’s really happening.

They don’t want to take the right road for resolving issues.

They don’t want to speak to people on both sides.

So they quickly choose a side … usually that of their friends … and lobby for the conflict to end.

And if that means that the pastor’s head rolls … so be it.

If conflict ever breaks out in your church, tell church leaders that you insist they use a biblical process for resolving matters … or hell itself will assume leadership.

If I could pound one thought into the head of every Christian churchgoer about congregational conflict, I’d say this:

When conflict erupts inside your church, apply biblical principles to your situation, and God will honor and bless your congregation.

But if your people make up their own rules … have a narrow focus … and do anything to find relief … a lot of innocent people are going to get hurt.

And God can’t bless your church until your congregation repents and learns what you should have done.

In the meantime, I’m going to avoid school parking lots.


While I was writing this article, I just hit 70,000 views on my blog.

If you come here from time to time, thanks for reading!

If this is your first time here, I invite you to return.

And if you read my blog regularly, thank you so much for your attention!  I am humbled by the fact you come back again and again.

Remember: I love interaction, so feel free to leave comments.  I strive to respond to all of them within 24 hours.  When it comes to church conflict, we’re all learners.

And if you’d like to chat privately, you can reach me at jim@restoringkingdombuilders.org or check out my website at http://www.restoringkingdombuilders.org

How do I know that anxiety produces chaos in churches?

I’ve written a book about my experiences called Church Coup: A Cautionary Tale of Congregational Conflict.  You can purchase the paperback or e-book from Amazon.









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