For any minister, conflict is inevitable.
While there are many words — anger, warfare, hurt — that
come to mind when conflict is mentioned, M. Wayne Oakes encouraged ministers
recently to consider the word opportunity.
“Not everyone experiences the world the way you do,” said
Oakes, who retired from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina several
years ago. Oakes was part of a two-day North Carolina Baptist Bivocational
Ministries Conference July 8-9 at Caraway
The theme — “Conflict Resolution: Strong Anchors for Stormy
Times” — challenged participants to use even the negative experiences to build
bridges to healthy relationships.
Part of building bridges is setting goals “that stretch us,”
“I just don’t think we engage people enough,” he said.
“We have a real ministry opportunity to put our arm around
somebody and offer a listening ear.
“We cannot save anybody. I think we can come alongside
people and say ‘I can tell you’re hurting.’”
Oakes said many ministers fall into the trap of trying to
rescue their church members but instead the members need to be encouraged to
confront people with their concerns.
“I’ve learned that I can’t solve anyone else’s problem,”
“A lot of negative language in church life would disappear
if we didn’t fan it.”
Oakes compared conflict to a virus.
“The single purpose of a virus is to replicate itself,”
Oakes said, but was quick to stress that conflict, much like a virus, cannot
multiply in isolation.
Change is never easy.
“They will feel awkward and ill at ease,” he said.
“They will feel alone even when everybody else is going
through the same process of change. They can handle only so much change at one
During some of the devotional time, Phyllis Elvington, a
well-known N.C. Baptist speaker and member of Tabor
City Baptist Church,
focused on the subtitle of the event: “Strong Anchors for Stormy Times.”
She encouraged the ministers and their wives to abide in the
vine as a spiritual anchor. “Satan wants you to settle for less than God’s best,”
Believers also need a mental and physical anchor.
Contact Lester Evans at [email protected] or (877)
- Bivocational & Small Church Leadership Network —
(615) 371-7907; this site offers a large number of resources and links for
helpful information for small church or bivocational ministers.
- Bivocational Beacon — newsletter produced by North Carolina
Bivocational Minister’s Association. Contact [email protected].