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How can our church better prepare to handle conflict?

Every church has a "culture" for resolving conflict. Culture is simply the combination of traditions, attitudes, behaviors, and habits that shape the way we respond to different situations, including conflict.

Few churches deliberately develop their conflict resolution culture. Instead, they inherit it without question from previous generations, not realizing how polluted it is by worldly values and customs.

For example, in "escape" cultures, people often seek uniformity in place of true unity, frequently hiding conflict beneath a veneer of civility or "respecting people's privacy." Such churches also tend to quickly give up on difficult relationships, urging troublesome people to seek a new church home.

In "attack" cultures, people are ready to fight at the drop of a hat. They are adept at undermining opponents through backbiting or by outmaneuvering them at congrega-tional meetings. Instead of seeing a 51% vote as a call for further prayer and humble dialogue, they rejoice over the slim ...

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