Conflict Between Pastors
Conflict Between Pastors

In the world of ministry, conflict between pastors is not uncommon. While pastors are called to guide their congregations with love and faith, they too can find themselves in disagreements and disputes with each other.

Conflict between pastors can be a result of differing theological beliefs, leadership styles, or personal disagreements. It’s important to remember that pastors, like anyone else, are human and may encounter conflicts in their professional and personal lives.

Such conflicts, if left unaddressed, can lead to division within the church, impacting the congregation and its faith community.

In this article, we’ll explore strategies for resolving conflict between pastors and restoring unity in the church. These strategies are designed to foster a collaborative and harmonious environment within the ministry.

We hope you find them useful.

20 Strategies for Resolving Conflict Between Pastors

#1. Collaborative Leadership Approach

One effective strategy for resolving conflict between pastors is to promote a collaborative leadership approach within the church. Pastors can work together, harnessing their unique strengths and talents to serve the congregation better. Instead of competing for influence, they can jointly guide the church towards a shared vision and purpose.

Example: Two pastors in a church had differing ideas about how to conduct worship services. By adopting a collaborative leadership approach, they were able to combine their insights and create a worship experience that resonated with the congregation.

#2. Clear Organizational Structure

A clear organizational structure can prevent conflicts from escalating. Define roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines within the ministry. When pastors understand their specific duties, it reduces the chances of stepping on each other’s toes.

Example: By clearly defining their roles and responsibilities, two pastors minimized confusion and conflicts over who should oversee various aspects of the church’s outreach programs.

#3. Conflict Transformation

Conflict transformation focuses on changing the way conflicts are approached. Instead of viewing conflicts as negative, pastors can see them as opportunities for growth and understanding. This approach encourages open dialogue and collaboration.

Example: When two pastors had a theological disagreement, they practiced conflict transformation by engaging in deep, respectful discussions that led to a better understanding of each other’s perspectives.

#4. Cultivate a Culture of Respect

A culture of respect is fundamental to conflict resolution. Pastors should model respectful behavior in their interactions, inspiring the congregation to follow suit. Mutual respect paves the way for constructive discussions and resolution.

Example: Two pastors set a tone of respect by actively listening to each other’s concerns during a heated debate, ultimately finding common ground.

#5. Shared Accountability

Incorporate shared accountability into the church’s leadership structure. Pastors can hold each other accountable for their actions and decisions. This mutual responsibility fosters trust and ensures that conflicts are addressed promptly.

Example: Two pastors implemented a system where they regularly reviewed each other’s decisions to ensure they aligned with the church’s mission and values.

#6. Regular Facilitated Dialogue

Schedule regular facilitated dialogues between pastors to discuss any emerging conflicts. A neutral facilitator can help guide discussions and ensure that all parties have an opportunity to express their perspectives.

Example: By engaging in monthly facilitated dialogues, two pastors were able to address underlying tensions and find solutions to their disagreements.

#7. Emphasis on Personal Growth

Encourage pastors to focus on personal growth and self-awareness. When pastors invest in their own development, they become better equipped to handle conflicts and work collaboratively with their peers.

Example: One pastor’s commitment to personal growth enabled them to approach conflicts with a more open mind, leading to improved relationships with their fellow pastors.

#8. Mentorship and Coaching

Experienced pastors can provide mentorship and coaching to those facing conflicts. A mentor can offer guidance and wisdom, helping younger pastors navigate challenging situations.

Example: One pastor benefited greatly from the mentorship of a seasoned pastor, who shared their experiences and strategies for resolving conflicts effectively.

#9. Conflict Early Warning System

Implement a conflict early warning system within the church. This system allows pastors to identify potential conflicts before they escalate, enabling proactive resolution.

Example: By monitoring congregational feedback and engagement levels, two pastors were able to address concerns before they turned into major conflicts.

#10. Strategic Vision Alignment

Ensure that all pastors share a common vision for the church’s future. Alignment on the church’s mission and goals reduces the likelihood of conflicts arising from conflicting priorities.

Example: Two pastors worked together to create a clear vision statement for their church, aligning their efforts and minimizing disagreements.

#11. Inter-generational Collaboration

Promote collaboration between pastors of different generations. Each generation brings unique perspectives and strengths to the ministry, which can enrich the church’s leadership.

Example: By pairing a seasoned pastor with a younger one, the church benefited from a blend of wisdom and fresh ideas, leading to a more harmonious leadership team.

#12. Regular Evaluation and Feedback

Establish a system for pastors to provide and receive regular feedback. Constructive feedback helps pastors identify areas for improvement and promotes transparency.

Example: Through a quarterly feedback process, two pastors were able to address communication issues and enhance their working relationship.

#13. Spiritual Renewal Initiatives

Organize spiritual renewal initiatives for pastors. These activities, such as retreats or workshops, can help pastors reconnect with their faith and find spiritual strength to navigate conflicts.

Example: A weekend retreat rejuvenated two pastors, helping them find renewed purpose and unity in their ministry.

#14. Conflict Resolution Training

Invest in conflict resolution training for pastors. Equipping them with conflict resolution skills empowers them to address disputes more effectively and peacefully.

Example: After completing conflict resolution training, two pastors felt more confident in their ability to manage disagreements within the church.

#15. Long-Term Conflict Management Plan

Develop a comprehensive long-term conflict management plan for the church. This plan outlines procedures for addressing conflicts and ensures continuity even when pastors change.

Example: The church’s conflict management plan guided two pastors through a complex disagreement, offering a step-by-step process for resolution.

#16. Congregation Involvement

Involve the congregation in conflict resolution processes when appropriate. Transparency and inclusivity can help build trust and ensure that the congregation feels heard.

Example: By including key congregation members in discussions, two pastors were able to find solutions that were well-received by the church community.

#17. Regular Communication Channels

Establish regular communication channels between pastors. Consistent communication can prevent misunderstandings and foster a culture of collaboration.

Example: Two pastors implemented a weekly meeting to discuss ongoing projects and potential areas of conflict, promoting unity in their decision-making.

#18. Appreciative Inquiry

Utilize appreciative inquiry, a positive approach that focuses on strengths and successes. This approach encourages pastors to build on what’s working rather than dwelling on conflicts.

Example: Two pastors adopted appreciative inquiry to identify the strengths of their ministry, which helped them find common ground and resolve differences.

#19. External Professional Assistance

When conflicts become too challenging to handle internally, seek external professional assistance. Mediators or conflict resolution experts can help find common ground and bring the conflict closer to a resolution.

Example: When two pastors faced a particularly difficult and entrenched conflict, they decided to seek the assistance of an external mediator. With the mediator’s guidance, they were able to navigate the conflict more effectively and find a resolution that satisfied both parties.

#20. Shared Reflective Practice

Encourage pastors to engage in shared reflective practice. This involves regularly reflecting on their experiences, actions, and decisions as a team. Reflective practice can help pastors learn from past conflicts and improve their collaborative efforts.

Example: Two pastors started a monthly reflective practice where they discussed their interactions and conflicts openly. This practice allowed them to identify patterns and work together more cohesively.


In conclusion, conflict between pastors is a challenge that many churches face, but it doesn’t have to lead to division and strife. By implementing even some these strategies for resolving conflict between pastors, churches can create a more supportive and harmonious environment within their leadership teams.

From collaborative leadership approaches to external professional assistance, there are various tools and techniques available to pastors and church leaders to address conflicts effectively.

Remember that conflict is a natural part of human interaction, and in the context of a church, it’s an opportunity for growth and learning. By embracing these strategies and fostering a culture of respect and open communication, pastors can work together to resolve conflicts and strengthen their ministry.