After the scolding, I took a few days to reflect on the underlying causes and the environment of our conflict. And I developed a few actions steps. So I did what I decided to do: I made a greater effort to listen to both of my colleagues, I apologized to Z____ for making a significant decision without him, I called the pastor of the mother church and asked for his advice and mediation, and I bathed it all in prayer.
By listening to my younger teammate, I was able to gain additional perspective on what was happening and I learned that this was not primarily a problem of what I had done or said. I still needed to apologize for the thing that I had done, but I knew we needed external support. I spoke with the pastor of our mother church. We had launched a church plant with the agreement that our leadership team of three was under the spiritual authority of the elders of the mother church. So going to the mother church was a clear call to help us move forward.
I explained to the pastor what had happened, and he also heard from the other two members of the team. I asked him to lead us in a meeting of reconciliation: an opportunity for each of us to lay our grievances before each other, to listen to those grievances, and to decide how to move forward in our relationship. The pastor agreed, and he scheduled a meeting for the three of us, plus him and one other leader from the mother church. I knew this wouldn’t be an easy conversation, but it was an opportunity for us to honor one another and also an essential step in the life of our small church plant.
At this point, no one in the church outside of our spouses new that there was a conflict in our team. But the three of us could not continue to lead the church unless we found healing in our relationship. Beyond relational healing, the conflict revealed that we also had some significant differences of opinion about how to be a church. We obviously needed to work through these differences and re-establish a shared vision for the church. It was not a given that we could do so, but in any case the first priority was a restored relationship.
On the day before our meeting, I received a call from the mother church pastor. He said that Z____ had cancelled the meeting. I asked him when we would reschedule. He said, “David, I’m not sure we will reschedule.” I said, “But, we must!” I believed it was absolutely necessary that we at least have a meeting to attempt reconciliation. But the pastor said that it probably wasn’t realistic.
I knew this meant that we had lost a teammate. Indeed, it was so. Z____ never returned to our team or worshiped with our church again. We never had a meeting for reconciliation. Our church leadership was now a team of two, and we worked closely together for several more years. The church continued to grow. I think I became a little more quick to listen and a little more quick to offer and to seek forgiveness.