Matt Hessel Coaches on Conflict Resolution for Churches


Thanks so much for joining us today for the unSeminary podcast. Today we have Matt Hessel from Traders Point Christian Church.

Traders Point Christian Church was founded in 1834. The church has grown a lot in the last eight years. They currently have two campuses and are getting ready to launch their third in downtown Indianapolis. Matt says the church doesn’t have a growth strategy, but their membership increased under the pastor that took the helm in 2007.

A church with such a rich history will need to change to keep speaking to the culture and change is bound to cause conflict. Matt is with us today to talk about how to manage conflict within the church.

  • Lead with the why. // Conflict is inevitable, Matt tells us. He says that as leaders you need to know how to lead people through something, but also to something. If you take an attitude of: “This is the change we’re doing; you can like it or leave it,” you can lose leaders and members of the congregation. Instead, lead people to the “why” of the change. As Matt notes, “Tactics are important, but leading people to the why—letting them see where we’re going—is huge.”
  • Drip the why constantly. // Matt reminds us that the vision and “why” shouldn’t be something that comes up once a year. It should be a constant within the church, from the pulpit to the departments to the volunteer groups. One of the changes that Traders Point made was within their strategic global partnerships. They had been partnered with these groups for a long time, but the church felt led to go in a new direction. However letting go of partnerships that people had had for 10-15 years had potential conflict that came with it. The first step was to share why they were doing it and what would happen. Honor the past and what God did in the past with these partnerships, but also help people to understand where God is leading in the future.
  • Prepare for conflict. // There are two parts of conflict – being reactive and proactive. We need to be ready to respond in the moment, but more importantly as leaders we need to be prepared for conflict in advance. In order to do that, Matt has a few key points. Don’t match emotion with emotion, listen to them instead. Once people feel that they’ve been heard, they are more willing to listen in return.
  • Problems versus tension. // Conflicts can arise as either problems to be solved or tensions to manage. A problem to be solved is one that you can take an action on and it’s done. A tension to manage is one that you will never see the end of, but you have to be proactive in addressing it and respond to it. Matt says one area that will always be a tension to be managed is worship because there are so many different philosophies surrounding it. A problem to solve could be a leader who has stepped out of bounds, for example.

You can learn more about Traders Point at their website

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Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Evernote

Ministries Following // an organization in the Middle East that’s planted 15 churches in cities that are extremely hostile to the gospel

Influential Book // Leadership Pain by Sam Chand

Inspiring Leader // president of US

What does he do for fun // watch and play sports

Contact //

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.