Barna Group released a study which found that Christians say they are comfortable resolving conflict at home.
The Christian polling group gathered data with The Genius of One to explore five factors of church community: unity, boundaries, spiritual gifts, conflict resolution and forgiveness. Barna conducted an online survey with 1,223 U.S. Christians and 426 U.S. pastors to evaluate how each group perceive and practice each factor.
The poll showed that more than half of Christians (53% very, 30% somewhat) agree that they are most comfortable reconciling with family members. Family is followed by friends—80% of Christians say it is not that difficult resolving conflict with friends. The percentage decreases when Christians are asked about conflict resolution with an individual within the community, neighbors, or people that are not within their social circle.
Data from pastors showed a similar pattern. Pastors are more comfortable resolving conflicts with family members, in church, and with friends. The study saw heightened discomfort when reconciling with superiors, neighbors and people in the local community.
Christians say the family (57%) is the biggest influence to them on how they pursue reconciliation with others. This is followed by the Bible (39%) and friends (37%). Also, nearly a quarter (24%) of the Christian participants considers pastors or church leaders have more influence in conflict resolution.
In terms of how Christians and pastors approach to resolve disagreements, they “offer different, though not incompatible, approaches to pursuing peace.” The study showed that half of pastors (50%) say they resolve conflicts with a collaborative mindset while majority of Christian respondents (37%) prefers to avoid conflict in the first place.
“While the majority of both pastors and Christians seem at least somewhat comfortable taking initial steps to resolve conflict in most settings, there are still a number of contexts in which both groups could be coached and encouraged to seek peace,” the study reads.
The poll also found that nearly nine in 10 Christians (86%) at least somewhat agree that their church encourage them to participate in the local community in a healthy way. This is a great opportunity for pastors to guide congregants in dealing with conflicts, promoting unity, forgiveness and other important aspects in having a healthy church community.
According to Barna, “these data show that while Christians and pastors are relatively comfortable approaching conflict resolution in many settings, there is still some room to grow, especially outside the familiar circles of church, friends and home.”