The apostles model how to manage conflict when it cropped up in the Church.
The following are some discussion questions to use as an individual or small group to further your study of this topic.
- How do you view conflict? Do you see it is always bad, sometimes bad and sometimes good or always good? Take a few minutes to think about how you respond to conflict. Are you a fighter, a negotiator or a runner? Share your answers with the group.
- Read verse 1. Write down (or share) in your own words how you understand the conflict recorded in this verse. Who was the conflict between? Who were the “victims” in the conflict? Can you think of a parallel situation in the church (generally) today?
- Read verse 2. What was the first thing the apostles established in responding to the problem? What did they say were their priorities? Why was it important that they understood and maintained those priorities? Share an example a time when priorities helped you avoid a conflict or when the lack of priorities let you into conflict.
- Read verses 3-4. What did the apostles propose to do about the conflict? What kind of men were to be chosen and why was this important? In what way did the proposal become a long-term solution? (deacons) How would the “ministry of the word” been affected if the apostles had ignored the problem of the widows going hungry? Why is it important in ministry to care for both material and spiritual needs of people.
- Read verses 5-6. How was the proposed solution received by the group of believers? What do the names of those chosen tell us about which group they were a part of? Share with the group why you think this is significant.
- Read verse 7. How does Luke describe the resulting situation. What do you think was the connection between the way the conflict was managed and the rapid growth of the church?
- When might it be appropriate to overlook conflict? What are some wrong ways people handle conflict? (escape responses; attack responses) What are some effective ways to make peace? (peacemaking responses)