Welcome to Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley. We are a verse-by-verse, Bible-believing church with teaching and fellowship designed to help you establish a firm foundation of faith – to inform, mobilize and equip as we reach out locally and impact globally. This church has often been defined as a school, hospital, house of prayer, place of worship, lighthouse, community center and forward operating base (FOB) for outreach.
God has designed us to depend on His Word to lead His people in ways that are utterly disproportionate to who we are. When we unchain the power of God’s Word in the church, it unleashes the potential of God’s people in the world. Ultimately, we focus on ways we can cultivate the best people – a people who love to pray and fast together, seek forgiveness together, sing and study together – not come for slick entertainment – a performance. It is about cultivation and maturation through concentrated development.
If you want to fellowship, worship, serve the community and be a part of international missions, then you have come to the right place. We look forward to getting to know you. Sign-up for our weekly updates now and we will see you on Sunday.
All visitors receive a special gift package that includes a Bible, devotional and more - perfect for the whole family.
Join us for services at Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley:
- Sunday at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. - no reservation required
- 4945 Cable Lane, Colorado Springs, CO 80911
- Telephone: (719) 382-3711
- Click here to email the church >>
- Casual Attire
NOTE: The 8:00 a.m. service is only 1-hour and does not include nursery or children's ministry services at this time. The worship for the 8:00 a.m. service is also "unplugged." The 10:00 a.m. service is contemporary and includes full ministry services for children, nursery to 6th grade. The Youth Group meets at 5:30 p.m.
Please note that all touch points in the facility will be cleaned before and after services and only one person will be allowed in restrooms at any given time. A facilities cleaning attendant will be positioned to clean restrooms after each use. Although not required, we ask that you consider wearing masks to ensure the safety and comfort of those around you.
Please note the following steps that have been taken to ensure your protection:
- We are only operating at around 30% capacity right now as we take a phased approach to re-entry under extreme social distancing guidelines.
- The facility team will be handling reopening operations while wearing gloves and masks.
- Congregants will be staggered in by our usher team (sidewalks are marked accordingly) and seated apart with 6’ of space between groups of 10 or less.
- Every chair has been cleaned.
- Every touch point is cleaned and will be cleaned after service.
- New Filters for the air conditioning units with high Microparticle Performance Ratings have been installed.
- Restrooms will be reserved for one user at a time and will be cleaned before and after every use.
- We will be transmitting on the radio (87.9 FM – within the FCC rules regarding proximity to the church facility) and broadcasting via LiveStream. Please see instructions below if you prefer to participate remotely.
Despite some of the limitations, we are delighted, nonetheless, to be making progress toward re-acclimating our congregation family back into regular facility use for corporate worship. It is our hope that we can start expanding facility use over the coming weeks.
If you are planning to attend service, please stress good sanitary behaviors and take extra steps, as necessary, to help us maintain a healthy environment. This includes human contact awareness, such as hugging or hand shakes, which we ask that you limit, temporarily, as you are able. In addition, should you have any health concerns, it would be prudent to contact your healthcare provider and stay home until treated. The coronavirus is characterized by mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. Illness can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
The Board of Elders at Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley ask for your continued prayers as we monitor COVID-19 containment efforts underway across the country. Our health and safety teams are working tirelessly to ensure the facility is clean and safe for public use.
Although we have great faith and trust in God’s provision and protection (Philippians 4:6-7; Psalm 91:1-3), we also understand taking precautions if you are susceptible to infection, have a compromised immune system or other health related vulnerabilities. Therefore, we will continue broadcasting services LIVE at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays (Mountain Time), which is streamed to multiple outlets, should you choose to participate remotely. The Livestream channel allows viewers to watch Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley services via their Roku or Apple TV devices on their televisions. In addition, we will be broadcasting on Facebook and at www.CalvaryFountain.com.
Pastors: John Bornschein, Perry Rohlfs, Justin Lee and Cody Ritter
Board of Directors: Mike Snider, Paul Holdier, Bill Fernandez, Sam Alcorn, Justin Lee, Perry Rohlfs, Cody Ritter and John Bornschein
Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley has been formed as a fellowship of believers under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our supreme desire is to know Christ and to be conformed into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are a verse-by-verse, Bible-believing church with teaching and fellowship designed to help you establish a firm foundation of faith – to inform, mobilize and equip as we reach out locally and impact globally.
Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley church began in 2003 as a church plant of Calvary Worship Center (led by Pastor Al Pittman) and is loosely affiliated with the Calvary Chapel Association of Churches. The Calvary Chapel Association (CCA) is the administrative connection point for the Calvary Chapel Movement of churches. It keeps a record of associated Calvary Chapel senior pastors. One of the functions of CCA is to promote official Calvary Chapel regional, national and international events. CCA also serves in various support roles to local Calvary Chapel churches and senior pastors. It is overseen by the Calvary Chapel Association Council, which consists of over 20 seasoned Calvary Chapel senior pastors from around the world.
There are currently 1600 associated Calvary Chapel churches and related ministries.
Pastor Dion Elmore, an associate pastor of Calvary Worship Center, founded Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley where it began in his basement – eventually becoming the 3rd largest Calvary Church in Southern Colorado by 2008. Today, CFFV ministers to more than 2000 families around the world (via regular church attendance, military ministry outreach and online communities) and is led by Pastor John Bornschein and Co-Pastor Perry Rohlfs.
The mission of Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley is to implement teaching and fellowship designed to help God’s people establish a firm foundation of faith – to inform, mobilize and equip to reach out locally and impact globally.
The purpose of this Church shall be: to win men and women to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; to increase Christian faithfulness “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10); to encourage individual Christians toward attaining “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13); to serve the community in every possible Christian way; to send personnel and Christian influence throughout the world by gifts and prayers for missions.
- Trust in the Lord that He is able and in this firm foundation we will move mountains in our culture today, living out an audacious faith in confidence of who He is and His reign over all (Joshua 10:12-14, Job 38-41, Isaiah 43:18-19, Matthew 21:21-22).
- Boldly proclaim the Gospel Message. We have the word of God before us, the Spirit of God in us and the command of God to us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 5:14-15, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 28:31).
- Stand as watchmen on the walls, seeking the Lord for wisdom and discernment, that we may equip the saints for the building up of the Body of Christ (Isaiah 62:6, I Chronicles 12:32, Ephesians 4:12).
- Minister to those who are suffering – the poor, the oppressed, the orphan, the widow, the hungry, those in prison and those who are in need will be served (James 1:27, Mark 10:21, Isaiah 25:4, Isaiah 58:7-12, Matthew 25:25-40, Proverbs 19:17, Acts 20:35).
- Teach the whole Word of God and the regular practice of Consecration and Preparation to remove all that may hinder our relationship with the Almighty (Joshua 3:5, 1 John 1:9, Hebrews 12:1).
- Intercede on behalf of our nation seeking transformation in the hearts of individuals and communities across all socio-economic, political and ethnic backgrounds (Jeremiah 5:1, Ezekiel 22:30, Isaiah 59:16, II Chronicles 16:9).
We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only their over emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the body of Christ. We believe that the only true basis of Christian fellowship is His (Agape) love, which is greater than any differences we possess and without which we have no right to claim ourselves as Christians.
WE BELIEVE: Worship of God should be Spiritual.
Therefore: We remain flexible and yielded to the leading of the Holy Spirit to direct our worship.
WE BELIEVE: Worship of God should be Inspirational.
Therefore: We give great place to music in our worship.
WE BELIEVE: Worship of God should be Intelligent.
Therefore: Our services are designed with great emphasis upon teaching the Word of God that He might instruct us.
WE BELIEVE: Worship of God should be Fruitful.
Therefore: We look for His love and work in our lives as the supreme manifestation that we have truly been worshiping Him.
OUR CHARACTER, BELIEFS, AND ORDINANCES
Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley shall be a nondenominational Church. It shall seek to emphasize the spiritual unity of all true believers. It shall be the policy of this Church to give preeminence to the preaching of the gospel, to studying the Word of God, and to exalting the Lord Jesus Christ.
In order to identify the Church as conservative in theology, and evangelical in spirit, we set forth this general statement of fundamental beliefs:
a) We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings.
b) We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
c) We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
d) We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
e) We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life.
f) We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, and they that are unsaved unto the resurrection of damnation.
g) We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church will observe regularly the two New Testament ordinances of water baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These ordinances are observed in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, out of love and devotion. This Church desires the fellowship of all evangelical Churches and Christian groups and will cooperate with them to promote the cause of Jesus Christ.
POSITION STATEMENT OF CALVARY FELLOWSHIP FOUNTAIN VALLEY
We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the verbally and plenarily inspired Word of God (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16–17). We hold the Bible to be inerrant.
1. In the original writings, infallible, God-breathed, and the complete and final authority for faith and practice (2 Peter 1:20–21).
2. We believe the Scriptures, interpreted in their normal, literal sense, reveal divinely distinguishable economies in the outworking of God’s purposes. These dispensations are divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to His purposes. Three of these – the age of law, the age of the church, and the age of the millennial kingdom – are the subjects of detailed revelation in Scripture (Genesis 12:1–3; John 1:17; Romans 4:1–5; 2 Corinthians 3:7–18; Galatians 3:13–25; Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:24–25; Hebrews 7:19; Revelation 20:2–6).
3. Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley has established its position statement, theological perspectives, and teachings from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, which was completed in 1982 after seven years of work by a 130-person team, including Greek, Hebrew, and English scholars, editors, church leaders, and Christian laity, who were commissioned to work on the project.
We believe in one Triune God, Creator of all (including the literal six days it took to create and form the heavens and the earth) (Genesis 1–2; Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16), eternally existing in three distinct persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14), yet one in being, essence, power, and glory, having the same attributes and perfections (John 10:30).
THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST
1. We believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is very God, the image of the Father, who, without ceasing to be God, became man in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful man (Matthew 1:21; John 1:18; Colossians 1:15).
2. We believe God the Son became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ; that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary; that He is truly God and truly man; that He lived a perfect, sinless life; that all His teachings and utterances are true (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
3. We believe the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all mankind (1 John 2:2) as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice (Isaiah 53:5–6). We hold that His death is efficacious for all who believe (John 1:12; Acts 16:31); that our justification is grounded in the shedding of His blood (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7); and that it is attested by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; 1 Peter 1:3).
4. We believe the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven in His glorified body (Acts 1:9–10) and is now seated at the right hand of God as our High Priest and Advocate (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1. We believe in the deity (Acts 5:3–4) and the personality of the Holy Spirit.
2. We believe the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8–11). He regenerates sinners (Titus 3:5) and indwells believers (Romans 8:9). He is the agent by whom Christ baptizes all believers into His body (1 Corinthians 12:12–14). He is the seal by whom the Father seals believers unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13–14). He is the Divine Teacher who illumines believers’ hearts and minds as they study the Holy Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:9–12).
3. We believe it is the duty and privilege of all the saved to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31). This filling is commanded (Ephesians 5:18). Conditions for being filled are yieldedness to the Spirit’s control (Romans 8:14) and a dependent life (Galatians 5:16). The results of filling are victory over sin, Christlike character, worship, submissiveness, and service (Galatians 5:22–23).
4. We believe the Holy Spirit gives gifts to each member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:11). The Son of God sovereignly assigns the place of the ministry of the gifts in the body, and the Father provides the energy in the outworking of the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4–6). Each believer is to exercise his spiritual gift(s) for the common good to the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–16).
ANGELS, GOOD AND EVIL
1. We believe in the reality and personality of angels. We believe that God created a vast number of these spiritual beings who were to be His messengers (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2; Matthew 24:31; Luke 1:19; Hebrews 1:14).
2. We believe in the personality of Satan. He is a fallen cherub who led a great company of angels into rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12–17; Ezekiel 28:12–15). He is the great enemy of God and man, and his angels, called demons, are his agents in the prosecution of his unholy purposes. He shall be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
We believe the human race sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12), that sin is universal in man (Romans 3:23), and that it is exceedingly heinous to God (Psalm 5:5). We believe that man inherited a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5), that he became alienated from God (Colossians 1:21), that he became totally depraved, and that of himself, he is utterly unable to remedy his lost estate (Ephesians 2:1–5, 12). We believe all men are guilty and in a lost condition apart from Christ (Romans 2:1; 3:10–18).
1. We believe salvation is a gift of God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8–9). Christ shed His blood to accomplish justification through faith, propitiation to God, redemption from sin, and reconciliation of man. “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8–9) and “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).
2. We believe all the redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are secure in Christ forever (John 6:37–40; 10:27–30; Romans 8:1, 38–39; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24).
3. We believe it is the privilege of all who are born again to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word (Romans 8:16; 1 John 5:13). We also believe that Christian liberty should never serve as an occasion to the flesh (Galatians 5:13).
4. We believe the Scriptures disclose several aspects of sanctification. In addition to God’s work of bringing a sinner to Christ, he is set apart to God. This is positional sanctification and refers to his standing. He then undergoes a process whereby the Holy Spirit quickens his affections, desires, and attitudes, enabling him to respond in faith to live a life of victory over sin. This is progressive sanctification and refers to his state (2 Corinthians 3:18; 7:1; Galatians 5:16–25; Ephesians 4:22–29; 5:25–27; Colossians 3:10). Someday his standing and his state will be brought into perfect accord. This is prospective, or ultimate, sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 John 3:2).
1. We believe Christ is the Head of the Church, and the Church is the body and espoused bride of Christ, which began at Pentecost and is a spiritual entity made up of all born again persons of this present age (Acts 2:1–42; 11:15; 1 Corinthians 12:12–14; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22–23; 5:25–27; Colossians 1:18).
2. We believe the establishment and continuance of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament Scriptures (Acts 14:27; 20:17; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:5–11).
3. We believe in the autonomy of the local church and its freedom to reject any governance that would demand compromise of the Holy Scripture, in part or in its’ entirety (Acts 13:1–4; 15:19–31; 28:28; Romans 16:1, 4; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16; 5:4–7, 13; 1 Peter 5:1–4).
4. We believe in the ordinances of believer’s water baptism by immersion as a testimony and the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance in this age of Christ’s death for the Church (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 2:41–42; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26).
5. We believe the saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon their Savior and Lord, and that separation from religious apostasy, sinful pleasures, practices, and associations is commanded by God (Romans 12:1–2; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; 2 Timothy 3:1–5; 1 John 2:15–17; 2 John 9–11).
6. We believe in the Great Commission as the primary mission of the Church. It is the obligation of the saved to witness, by word and life, to the truths of Holy Scripture. The gospel of the grace of God is to be preached to all the world (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:19–20). Converts are to be taught to obey the Lord and to testify concerning their faith in Christ as Savior in water baptism and to honor Christ by holy living and observance of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 28:19–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–29).
THINGS TO COME
1. We believe in that “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), the personal, imminent (Matthew 24:42, 44; 1 Corinthians 15:51–52; Philippians 3:20; 4:5; Revelation 19:11–20:10) coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to rapture His saints and receive His Church unto Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).
2. We believe in the subsequent, visible return of Christ to the earth (Matthew 24:29–31), with His saints to establish His promised millennial kingdom (Zechariah 14:4–11; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 3:10; 19:11–16; 20:1–6).
3. We believe in the physical resurrection of all men, the saints to everlasting joy and bliss, the wicked to conscious and eternal torment (Matthew 25:46; John 5:28–29; 11:25–26; Revelation 20:5–6, 12–13).
4. We believe the souls of the redeemed are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where in conscious bliss they await the first resurrection when spirit, soul, and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Revelation 20:4–6).
We believe the souls of unbelievers shall appear at the Great White Throne of Judgment and shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to suffer everlasting, conscious punishment (Matthew 25:41–46; Mark 9:43–48; Luke 16:19–26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9; Jude 6–7; Revelation 20:11–15).
HUMANITY AND MARRIAGE
MAN AND WOMAN
We believe mankind came into being by direct creation of God and that mankind is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26–27; 2:7).
We believe the Scriptures accurately define that mankind, both male and female, was created by God (Matthew 19:4–5; Mark 10:1–12) and the offspring of Adam and Eve, for all generations thereafter, have all been formed by God in the womb and, as a result, life begins in the womb with intentionality and purpose (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13–16). Though God has created various races, they are all created equal with unique gifts and talents (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12).
THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE
We believe human life is created by God in His image. It is of inestimable worth and significance in all its dimensions, including the preborn, the aged, the mentally disabled, those deemed unattractive, the physically challenged, and every other condition in which humanness is expressed from the single cell stage of development to natural death. Christians are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life (Psalm 139:13–14a; Jeremiah 1:5).
THE PERMANENCE OF MARRIAGE
We believe the institution of marriage is a sacred covenant designed by God to model the love of Christ for His people and to serve both the public and private good as the basic building block of human civilization. Marriage is intended by God to be a thriving, lifelong relationship between a man and a woman enduring through trials, sickness, financial crises, and emotional stresses. Therefore, Christians are called to defend and protect God’s marriage design and to minister in Christ’s name to those who suffer the consequences of its brokenness (Matthew 19:4–6).
EXPANDED STATEMENT REGARDING HUMAN GENDER, SEXUALITY, AND MARRIAGE
The biblical and philosophical goal of Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley is to develop people in the church into mature, Christlike individuals (Ephesians 4:11–16; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 3:18). Of necessity, this involves Calvary’s understanding and belief of what qualities or characteristics exemplify a Christlike life (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, authoritative Word of God. Therefore, everything we say and do must be under the guidance and authority of the Scriptures. Our integrity depends on consistent application of our commonly understood biblical truths (Psalm 19:7–11; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:20–21).
2. God created human beings distinctly as male and female (Genesis 1:27). The distinctness, complementary, and relational nature of the human race as “male and female” is based on the created order given by God when He created humanity “in His image” (Genesis 1:26–27; 5:1–3; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 4:23–24; Colossians 3:10), and these establish a normative connection between biological sex and gender. The created distinctness, complementarity, and relational nature also establish the basis for the marital relationship as being between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:23–24; Ephesians
3. The Bible affirms two options or giftings for sexual expression: monogamous marital relations between one man and one woman (Genesis 1:27–28; 2:18, 21–24; Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:5–8; 1 Corinthians 7:1–16; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:22), or sexual celibacy, if one is not in a monogamous marital relationship between one man and one woman (1 Corinthians 7:7; Matthew 19:12). Within this Biblical design there can be found sexual fulfillment, whereas outside this design sexual expression is improper (1 Corinthians 6:13–20; Leviticus 18, 20).
4. The Bible affirms that human sexuality is a gift to be treasured and enjoyed (Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 5:19, 31:10; 1 Corinthians 7:4), as is sexual celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:7). The fall of humanity (Genesis 3) corrupted human sexuality in both spiritual and physical ways (Romans 1:18–32; Ephesians 2:1–10), and one result is confusion and pain in the lives of those who struggle with brokenness regarding gender, and who struggle with the guilt of desiring sinful expressions of sexuality (Genesis 3:1–7; Romans 3:9–18, 5:12–17). The Bible prescribes faith in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:2–3) as the remedy and as the provision for life (Romans 3:23, 6:23; John 3:16), and the Bible prescribes an ongoing relationship with Him as the means for a whole and fulfilling life (John 15:1–11, 17:3; Colossians 3:12–17; Galatians 5:16–25; Romans 8:28–38).
We understand the Bible to teach that we must not condone sin while demonstrating compassion for sinners (Romans 3:23), distinguishing between the value and identity of each person as an individual, and the behavioral choices which some individuals may make (Galatians 5:19–25). We understand the Bible to differentiate between recognition of personhood and rejection of those actions which it defines as immoral, while simultaneously extending forgiveness and healing to all who respond in believing faith to its universal offer of God’s grace (Luke 15:10; John 8:3–12).
THE VALUE OF CHILDREN
We believe children are a heritage from God and a blessing from His hand. Parents are therefore accountable to Him for raising, shaping, and preparing them for a life of service to His Kingdom and to humanity (Malachi 2:15).
Conflict resolution in the body of Christ is crucial for several reasons. Avoidance of conflict, with no effort to resolve it, postpones a proper response and exacerbates the problem because conflicts that are allowed to fester unaddressed will always increase and have negative effects on relationships within the body. The goal of conflict resolution is unity, and unity in the church poses a threat to the devil who will use every opportunity to take advantage of unresolved issues, especially those involving anger, bitterness, self-pity, and envy. These emotions are the basis for most church conflicts. Scripture tells us that we are to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from [us], along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Failure to do this results in division in the body of Christ and grief to the Holy Spirit. We are also told that we are not to allow a “root of bitterness” to spring up among us, leading to trouble and defilement (Hebrews 12:15). Clearly, a biblical method of conflict resolution is needed.
Although the verses cited in the first paragraph are the two places that expressly deal with conflict resolution, every letter in the New Testament contains at least one command to believers to live at peace with one another. We are repeatedly instructed to love one another (John 13:34; Romans 12:10), to live in peace and harmony with one another (Romans 15:5; Hebrews 12:14), to settle our differences among ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:11), to be patient, kind and tenderhearted toward one another (1 Corinthians 13:4), to consider others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3), to bear one another’s burdens (Ephesians 4:2), and to rejoice in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Conflict is the antithesis of Christian behavior as outlined in Scripture.
There are times when, despite all efforts to reconcile, sin issues prevent us from resolving conflict in the church. There are two places in the New Testament that clearly and unambiguously address conflict resolution where sin is involved. The other passage where this is addressed explicitly is Luke 17. In verses 3–4, Jesus says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” An essential part of conflict resolution, according to this passage, is forgiveness. Any kind of disciplinary procedure should always have restoration of the sinning person as the ultimate goal.
The reason conflict resolution is so difficult is that we are hesitant to place ourselves in uncomfortable situations. We are also frequently unwilling to humble ourselves enough to admit that we might be wrong or to do what it might take to make amends if we are wrong. Those who do conflict resolution best are often those who would prefer not to confront others about their sin, but still do so out of obedience to God. If the matter is relatively minor, it may be that the best thing to do is to overlook the offense (Proverbs 19:11). If it cannot be overlooked, one must pursue reconciliation. This is such an important issue to God that peace with Him and peace with others are inextricably entwined. We cannot know peace with God unless we are at peace with one another, and we cannot truly know peace with others unless we are at peace with God.
QUESTION: “HOW SHOULD CONFLICT IN THE CHURCH BE HANDLED?”
Answer: There are many areas of a church where conflict can develop. However, most of them tend to fall under one of three categories: conflict due to blatant sin among believers, conflict with leadership, and conflict between believers. Admittedly, many issues can cross over and actually involve two or more of these categories.
Believers who blatantly sin pose a conflict for the church as described in 1 Corinthians 5. The church that does not deal with sin among the members will open the door to more problems. The church is not called to be judgmental of unbelievers, but the church is expected to confront and restore believers who are unrepentant of sins such as those listed in 1 Corinthians 5:11: “…anyone who calls himself a brother, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.” Such individuals are not to be accepted by the church until they are willing to repent. Matthew 18:15–17 provides a concise procedure for the confrontation and restoration of a believer. Confrontation should be done carefully, meekly, and with the goal of restoration (Galatians 6:1). Churches that lovingly discipline sinning individuals will curtail a great deal of conflict in the church.
At times believers might not be content with the direction or actions of church leaders. This was the case early in the history of the church (Acts 6:1–7). Complaints about the lack of care of a certain group in the church were taken up with the leaders. This was remedied, and the church grew (Acts 6:7). The early church used a conflict to improve the ministry. However, when churches do not have a clear process for dealing with such concerns, people tend to create their own platforms. Individuals may begin polling others in the church, get involved in gossip, or even develop a bloc of “concerned people.” Leadership can help avoid this by leading like selfless, loving shepherds that are examples of servants rather than ones that lord over others (1 Peter 5:1–3). Those who are frustrated should respect the leaders (Hebrews 13:7, 17), be slow to accuse them (1 Timothy 5:19), and speak the truth lovingly to them, not to others about them (Ephesians 4:15). On those occasions when it appears the leader is not responding to the concern, an individual should follow the pattern set down in Matthew 18:15–17 to ensure that there is no confusion as to where each stands.
The Bible warns that people in church may have difficulties with conflict. Some conflict is due to pride and selfishness (James 4:1–10). Some conflicts come about because of offenses that have not been forgiven (Matthew 18:15–35). God has told us to press toward peace (Romans 12:18; Colossians 3:12–15). It is the responsibility of each believer to seek to resolve a conflict. Some basic steps toward resolution include the following:
1. Develop the proper heart attitude – Meek (Galatians 6:1); Humble (James 4:10); Forgiving (Ephesians 4:31,32); Patient (James 1:19,20).
2. Evaluate your part in the conflict – Matthew 7:1–5 (removing the log from your own eye first is necessary before helping others).
3. Go to the individual (not to others) to voice your concern – Matthew 18:15. This is best done in love (Ephesians 4:15) and not to just get something off your chest. Accusing the person tends to encourage a defensiveness. Therefore, attack the problem rather than the person. This gives the person a better opportunity to clarify the situation or to seek forgiveness for the offense.
4. If the first attempt does not accomplish the needed results, continue with another person or persons that can help with mediation (Matthew 18:16). Remember that your goal is not to win an argument; it is to win your fellow believer to reconciliation. Therefore, choose people who can help you resolve the conflict.
Conflict is best handled when individuals prayerfully and humbly focus on loving others, with the intent of restoring relationships. Most issues of conflict should be manageable if the above biblical principles are followed. However, there are times when specific outside counsel may help. We recommend utilizing resources such as the PeaceMaker Ministries – www.hispeace.org.