We are described as the first full fruit of the Kingdom of God. We are the first sign of a greater harvest which is to come, which is why our life together is ruled by the expectation of the return of the King.
The world is meant to see the church as a pilot scheme of the way the Kingdom of God operates. This is why it is such a serious matter when things go wrong in God's community. But there is hope for hurting churches. It is possible to make a journey through conflict to a place of reconciliation and restored relationships.
When you read the Bible through "conflict lenses", you realise that from the earliest days there have been disputes, tensions, arguments and major fallouts. Life together in confliect is a dangerous thing. It is impossible to avoid conflict, which leads to disputes, but it is within our power to seek peace and follow the grievance procedures which Jesus taught when we find ourselves in deep trouble.
The material in this booklet was first issued as a basis for the "Hurting Churches" seminar at the 2002 Baptist Assembly. The seminar shared the basic concept that when the local church handles conflict in a constructive way, fellowship is deepened and mission witness retains its integrity.