1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Conflict has proven to be the most dynamic experience in an organization, as it either destroys or strengthens the group. In any case, the organization is never the same. Many times, Christian leaders have failed to seize the opportunity presented by a conflict situation. Because their leaders failed to manage conflict situations properly, many churches have been destroyed and Christian organizations have become a stumbling block for unbelievers. In light of the current state of affairs, Christian leaders need to improve their skills in resolving organizational conflicts. According to Inwang (2012), attempting to run away from tensions is futile. As long as we live in a world of sinners, there will always be areas of contention.
Every day, it appears that there is a new case of conflict in the world, according to the news. Hatred is often at the root of conflicts between nations, races, and religions. Conflict arises as a result of hatred. It may be difficult to overcome hatred, but we can respond to a hateful person with Christ's unconditional love. Of course, there are obstacles to this progress, according to Dixon (2019). Recognize that a reconciliation process does not produce immediate results.
The truth is, whether we like it or not, we will have conflict. It's a part of life that we can't completely control. Following God's word and responding obediently are the keys to dealing with conflict. Although it is easier said than done, we must not lose hope. There is a good chance that the conflict will continue if it is ignored. There are numerous ways in which conflict can affect one's life and the world. A hot-tempered heart, a greedy heart, a hated heart, or even an angry heart can all stir it up.
Conflict management, according to Abdullah (2017), is defined as the “opportunity to improve conflict situations and strengthen relationships”. It is believed that conflict is better managed than eliminated within the growing realization that a number of benefits are accruable as well as costs.
Inasmuch as conflict is unavoidable in the society, it is expedient not only to resolve the conflict, but also to manage it, or rather transform it. Unfortunately, churches and Christians are not immune from conflict (Folarin and Adelakun, 2016). Managing conflict effectively would guarantee a better peaceful society (Clements, 2014). Christians, as major stakeholders in the society, have pivotal roles to play in managing conflict whatever the type or cause of the conflict. Overtime man has always adopt different means of settling conflict in the church, but more often than not, there is continual increase of conflict in the churches leading to breakdown in many churches. One effective way of managing conflict in the church is the use of Biblical approach to resolve it, as Godly approach assures a better and best way to resolve conflict without laying credence to the past, revenge and hurting one and another among the family members. It is against the foregoing background that, this study intends to investigate strategies to conflict management in the 21st century church.
1.2 THE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Conflict takes on different dimensions and can move from constructive to destructive and from mild to violent if unchecked. The church of Christ as an institution has an ecclesiastical mandate to lead Christians in resolving their conflicts in godly ways without engaging in adversarial ways that leave disputants ripped apart. The church must be the salt and the light to the world, not only by the way she resolves conflict among her members, but also by the way she promotes peace-building in the larger community.
Conflict is a situation where one finds himself or herself in opposition. Be it individual conflict or group conflict, it is a problem that is difficult to deal with. The church or society at large cannot do without conflict. Conflict is worst when people deny the fact that there is a conflict or simply ignoring it, or gives in to the wishes of the other person in order to preserve the relationship. More problems arise when there is the imposition of a solution that may require aggressiveness, threats or unwillingness to cooperate.
Agreement between two parties can be made verbally, but in the heart conflict still continues, which may lead to the killing of one party or opponent. It is difficult to resolve conflict except with God’s intervention. For this to happen, theological educators and pastors must be on the cutting edge in conflict resolution and peace-building.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main aim of this study is to investigate conflict management in the 21st century church. The specific objectives of the study are:
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0:There is no relationship between church leadership conflict management style and positive energy growth for unity within the church
H1:There is a relationship between church leadership conflict management style and positive energy growth for unity within the church.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This project is the researcher’s effort in making conflict resolution achievable among Christians, and a way of promoting peace in the church. This project may help the reader to have a clearer perspective in conflict processes surrounding most Christian organizations today, thereby allowing him to adjust and choose the proper course of action in certain conflict situations. This involves having a good understanding of the Biblical principles at work during times of discord. If you happen to see conflict and feel that you can help solve it, try your best to do so. The key to stopping conflict is to deal with it and trust in God. It makes it possible for the conflict to be resolved between the parties concerned only or through a third party as the scripture advises in Matthew 18:16 or through the church that will employ counselling, mediation or arbitration.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on conflict management in the 21st century church, Assemblies of God in focus, Abuja.
1.8. LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Conflict: Mode, Oluwabamide, Akpan and Ekpa (2016) opine that there is absolutely no agreement among scholars on the concept of conflict even though there is no disagreement on its manifestation and impact on the society. Coser (1967) views conflict as a process and therefore regards it as a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power, and resources in which the aims of the opponent are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals.
Management: Nwachukwu (2019) defined management as “getting things done through and with others”. He further defined it more scientifically as the coordination of all the resources of an organization through the process of planning, organizing, directing and controlling in order to attain organizational objectives. Management is the guidance or direction of people toward organizational goals or objectives. It can also be seen as the supervising, controlling and coordinating of activity to attain optimum results with organizational resources.
Christian: McClintock and Strong (2014) defined Christian as “the name given to those who believe Jesus to be the Messiah”.
Christianity: The World Book Encyclopaedia volume 3 (1980) defined Christianity as “the religion founded upon the life and teaching of Jesus Christ”. It has spread throughout the world and is the prevailing religion in the Western Hemisphere. There are about a billion Christians. They make up the largest religious group in the world. Christianity has influenced government, thought, and art for about 2,000 years.
Counselling: It is an aspect of the Christian ministry and is a spiritual approach that is designed for the provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, especially by a professional.
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