The Art of Confrontation: How to Master It

Situations will arise that call for confrontation. When they do, you have to have the courage to sit down with the person or group bringing the criticism and address the situation head-on.

Over the years–both at The Journey and in working with other church leaders–I have found that when the pastor goes directly to a critic to address his or her grievances, the result is positive about 70 percent of the time. Don’t be afraid to confront conflict when necessary. Just keep these four things in mind:

  • Pray and Prep: Before you sit down with anyone eyeball to eyeball, take the time to pray over the situation in general and over the meeting you are about to have specifically. Pray that you won’t be driven by your emotions, but that you will stay grounded. Also, make some notes about what you want to say in the meeting. They will serve as a guideline to keep things on track. In short, be prepared.
  • Plan Your Approach: When you step into a conflict-resolution situation, your approach will influence the outcome. So, think about your approach before you meet with your critic. Typically, I recommend taking the angle of resolution through clarification. Start by shouldering some responsibility with a statement like, “I just want to clarify…” or “Maybe we didn’t thoroughly explain _______ and that has led to some concern…” This approach usually disarms the critic, keeps you from being in defense-mode (which is key), and often leads to the resolution.
  • Assess the Attitude (Never Assume): Along the same lines, make sure you confront the attitude, confusion or motive that’s driving the attack, rather than confronting the person. In your process of assessing that attitude, never assume anything. If you aren’t sure what has led to the issue, ask.
  • Act Early: It’s natural to want to shrink from confrontation. I know I have been guilty of turning a blind eye to a situation that needs addressing, hoping everything will work out on its own. After this mindset has gotten me into trouble more than once, a mentor of mine taught me an invaluable lesson: Run to conflict. If you catch conflict in its earliest stages–before it becomes infectious, takes on armor, and runs people out of the church–you can arrest it and correct it.

– Nelson Searcy

The above excerpt is from p. 72-73 of The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry.

Drawing from Nelson Searcy’s decades of ministry experience, The Renegade Pastor is a relevant, step-by-step resource for church leaders who are ready to step up in surrender to the pursuit of God’s best for his or her life and work.

P.S. – Click here to grab your copy from Amazon today!

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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