Conflict in the Trenches


Conflict within the church seems to be something that surprises people who spend their days working in a secular setting. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Think for a moment, you take a human being who although saved by grace still has all the human tendencies toward jealousy and self-centeredness and add to that the strong convictions of faith and watch out – conflict guaranteed!

My position as the Director of Magnification (Creative Arts leader) came about as a result of conflict between our senior pastor and Worship leader. Not knock-down-drag-out fights but ongoing conflict that almost resulted in our Worship Leader leaving the church. I joke a lot about being the Mom on staff because leading artists takes a lot of mothering. My experience with leadership in the church looks a lot like good parenting, our ultimate goal is to guide them toward becoming fully devoted followers of Christ.

When I was hired I was placed over the Worship leader who was older than me and more experienced then I was. Instead of flaunting my position I came along beside him and helped identify the issues that were causing conflict. What I discovered was that he and the pastor were not actually arguing about specifics, but the pastor was frustrated because his expectations for creativity was something impossible for the Worship leader to ever satisfy. He was in no way creative. He is a music machine, precise, exact and meticulous, anything but creative – a trained musician, as opposed to a natural artistic musician.

I was able to step in and fill the creative needs of our ministry allowing the worship leader to focus on what he was gifted to do.

In the same way conflict seems to abound in the area of acting. Drama describes not only the production but also many times what is going on behind the scenes.

Sadly performance seems to produce arrogance in even the most dedicated believer at times. And there is no room for prima donnas in the church. This very thing has caused our pastor not to use as much drama as I would like to. I now offer our actors many different ways to be involved in our ministry.

These are things I now do anytime I consider a drama performance or before adding a new actor onto our team.

  1. As I search for scripts I tell the team there is no promise that what we find will be performed. It has to fit perfectly and support exactly where the pastor wants to lead the congregation.
  2. I lead ongoing tryouts and tell the new actors I cannot promise when they will be used but I create opportunities to use actors on video, for announcements, scripture readings and audio recordings that we use as welcomes and various elements in the service. I would encourage all ministries to consider less conventional ways that actors can be incorporated into your services instead of limiting them to drama scripts.
  3. Take them through a Bible Study relating specifically to artists. A study that puts their talents and performances in a Biblical context and hits hard the fact that “it’s not about you” establishes an expectation early on. We use “The Heart of the Artist” by Rory Noland or “Imagine That” by Manuel Luz. Both are great books for anyone involved in ministry and artistic performance to read.
  4. Membership requirement. We do not let anyone on our stage until they have taken our membership class at Crossroads. This allows our Membership pastor to teach them what Crossroads requires of our members. It teaches them a balanced ministry involvement. Lifestyle, giving and serving requirements that must be met before anyone takes our stage. This avoids a lot of conflict and gives the leaders something to fall back on. I strongly recommend some type of covenant about lifestyle and serving.

If you continue leading in ministry you have to do so expecting and preparing well to handle conflict. It will come and will often result in someone either taking the next step in his or her walk with the Lord or walking away. As leaders we bear responsibility in offering a Godly solution to conflict.