Bivocational pastors learn about conflict
    July 18 2011 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor

    For any minister, conflict is inevitable.

    While there are many words — anger, warfare, hurt — that come to mind when conflict is mentioned, M. Wayne Oakes encouraged ministers recently to consider the word opportunity.

    “Not everyone experiences the world the way you do,” said Oakes, who retired from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina several years ago. Oakes was part of a two-day North Carolina Baptist Bivocational Ministries Conference July 8-9 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    A group of bivocational ministers and spouses swap prayer requests during a meeting July 8-9 at the North Carolina Bivocational Ministries Conference. The event, held at Caraway Conference Center in Asheboro, dealt with “Conflict Resolution: Strong Anchors for Stormy Times.” View the photo gallery here.

    The theme — “Conflict Resolution: Strong Anchors for Stormy Times” — challenged participants to use even the negative experiences to build bridges to healthy relationships.

    Part of building bridges is setting goals “that stretch us,” said Oakes.

    “I just don’t think we engage people enough,” he said.

    “We have a real ministry opportunity to put our arm around somebody and offer a listening ear.

    “We cannot save anybody. I think we can come alongside people and say ‘I can tell you’re hurting.’”

    Oakes said many ministers fall into the trap of trying to rescue their church members but instead the members need to be encouraged to confront people with their concerns.

    “I’ve learned that I can’t solve anyone else’s problem,” Oakes said.

    “A lot of negative language in church life would disappear if we didn’t fan it.”

    Oakes compared conflict to a virus.

    “The single purpose of a virus is to replicate itself,” Oakes said, but was quick to stress that conflict, much like a virus, cannot multiply in isolation.

    Change is never easy.

    “They will feel awkward and ill at ease,” he said.

    “They will feel alone even when everybody else is going through the same process of change. They can handle only so much change at one time.”    

    Three anchors
    During some of the devotional time, Phyllis Elvington, a well-known N.C. Baptist speaker and member of Tabor City Baptist Church, focused on the subtitle of the event: “Strong Anchors for Stormy Times.”

    She encouraged the ministers and their wives to abide in the vine as a spiritual anchor. “Satan wants you to settle for less than God’s best,” Elvington said.

    Believers also need a mental and physical anchor.

    Contact Lester Evans at or (877) 224-5615.  

    Bivocational Resources
    • Bivocational & Small Church Leadership Network —; national coordinator: Ray Gilder,; (615) 371-7907; this site offers a large number of resources and links for helpful information for small church or bivocational ministers.
    • Bivocational Beacon — newsletter produced by North Carolina Bivocational Minister’s Association. Contact

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    7/18/2011 9:11:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Asst. Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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