The Ecclesial conflict management

Healthy separation in Acts 15:36-41


  • Wynand Fourie Stellenbosch University



Acts, confict management, healthy separation, reconciliation, leadership


In Acts 15:36–41 a moment of conflict between Paul and Barnabas leads to the separation of these two early church leaders. In this article I argue for the validity and, indeed, the wisdom of healthy separation as an approach to ecclesial leadership conflict management. Even though healthy separation does not necessarily lead to the immediate or eventual restoration through the transformation of the relationship, it can serve as a source of hope, encouragement, and support for individuals facing situations of hopelessness as a result of unhealthy and unbearable conflict in ecclesial leadership. Given the eschatological nature of reconciliation, healthy separation is also presented as an approach to conflict management in ecclesial leadership which creates an opportunity for growth, transformation, and at least the possibility of the future restoration of the relationship.