New Horizons Community Church is a health church with a history of clear vision and strong strategy. It has enjoyed a long-term pastor at the helm, an active staff, and three different congregations under one leadership team. NHCC appears to be the ideal church.
In 2011, the church entered a period of conflict due to the neglect of the relational component; closed meetings were held, lines were drawn, and sides chosen. The pastor left, followed by a key staff member, and soon others were leaving and deep friendships were destroyed.
The result was a confused group of people, reeling from the shock of conflict. Many did not understand what had happened and felt marginalized. Some remained loyal to the pastor, while others struggled with guilt and second-guessed decisions made. All wrestled with how to resolve the strife and move beyond the conflict.
Dave Heasler, a transitional pastor, was brought in to help restore health and guide them in finding a new pastor. For over a year he effectively led them through much of the restoration process. The unresolved conflict, simmering just below the surface, was their final hurdle.
I was called in to address the present conflict and equip them to resolve future conflicts. I found two components that needed to change before NHCC could move into a strong and effective future. The culture needed to be transformed and their conflict resolution skills needed to be strengthened.
In spending time with the leadership team we explored the breakdown in the church’s culture. Together we looked at how to design a new culture–a “conflict-resistant” culture.
Using a seminar model, we walked the congregation through the skills needed to resolve the simmering conflict. Using their new knowledge, they embraced the actions necessary to bring resolution and move forward.
The following Sunday, the leadership team called for a “Prayer and Reconciliation Service.” During this service individuals and the leadership team took appropriate responsibility.
Offenses were released and forgiveness extended as necessary. The service concluded with a committal service and the Lord’s Supper. They laid to rest the past and committed themselves to a new future.
Today, NHCC is regaining their momentum and rebuilding their relational health. While the search for a new pastor is underway, they are creating a new conflict-resistant culture and are using their new expertise to handle conflict when it does appear.