Church Conflict

It is natural in a church conflict to want to has some power to control one’s own destiny. But it may not be in the best interests of the church, especially when its polity defines a clear process for conflict resolution.

In Catholic churches, it may be the bishop who has the final say in a priest-parish conflict. In the Lutheran church it may also be the bishop. In the Presbyterian church there are clearly defined roles for a presbytery administrative commission, Committee on Ministry (COM) Permanent Judicial Committee (PJC), and church Session. Only in Evangelical Free Churches or in the United Church of Christ does the congregation have the greatest determining role, though in most denominations it does get a final say after the other committees or judicatories have done their job

The point here is that the congregation may not be in the best position to judge what is needed to preserve and protect the congregation. At its worst, for a congregation this can feel like paternalism, but it may also be that those entrusted with power in a judicatory may indeed the closest thing to objectivity or a “jury of peers” if the conflict involves the pastor.