Preventing and Overcoming Church Conflicts
"From his wide experience in ministry and his clear understanding of Scripture, Ron Susek tells today's church who the real enemy is and how we can defeat him. Like John the Baptist, he gets to the root of church fights and splits, and his recommendations are biblical and doable. A courageous book that deserves wide distribution."
--Warren W. Wiersbe, author and pastor
"Simple mistakes, well-intentioned blunders, selfish ambition, power plays, dysfunctional ecclesiastical structures--from this volatile mix, firestorms can result. This book shows how firestorms may be prevented and how to recover from them."
--Stuart Briscoe, senior pastor, Elmbrook Church
"Ron Susek has one of the most fertile minds around. In Firestorm his writing is comprehensive and solidly scriptural. This book is not only needed but also essential, and it could not come at a better time. I wish it were required reading for every pastor and staff member in America, as well as for every deacon and elder. It is written with passion and precision, it has practical helps, and it will help your church avoid or recover from destructive division."
--Vander Warner Jr., president, Home before Dark, Ltd.
"For many years I have respected, encouraged, and commended the preaching and counseling ministries of my colleague, Ron Susek. I am delighted that he has now distilled the wisdom and experience of his days in the 'trenches' in his new book Firestorm. It is a masterpiece of pastoralia. For seminary students--and even senior pastors--this book gives lessons, warnings, and insights rarely found in literature of this kind. It is a must read, and I warmly commend it to my colleagues in the ministry."
--Dr. Stephen F. Olford, founder and senior lecturer, The Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
"'Urgently needed' is my first reaction. Ron Susek is not up in some ivory tower. His education as executive interim pastor in the middle of a local church firestorm put him on solid ground, right in the heat of the potentially destructive forces of conflict. Thanks, Ron; you've done a great service to the entire church."
--David Mainse, Crossroads
"It's a clear-cut issue: Evangelicals must either discover the importance of the unity of the Spirit as commanded in Ephesians 4:3 or discover what it means to live without the backing of God. In Firestorm Ron Susek proves that we can even disagree agreeably. His book is a significant and much needed contribution!"
--Dr. John DeBrine, Host of Songtime USA
"Firestorm is a must read for every pastor in America today! Ron has over thirty years in ministry working with pastors and churches. This book will aid in resolving church conflicts in a biblical manner."
--Dr. Jerry Falwell, Thomas Road Baptist Church
"With literary skill, spiritual insight, godly wisdom, and genuine concern for the body of Christ, my good friend, Ron Susek, has produced in Firestorm a unique book. I warmly commend it to pastors, elders, deacons, and all involved in leadership of a local church. Here is a classic work born out of firsthand observation and experience. It offers practical solutions to perennial problems which surface in any congregation of God's people. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!"
--Rev. Keith Skelton, senior pastor, The Open Door Church, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
"Ron Susek has written a most informative and helpful manual for pastors and church leaders. Because of its honesty, compassion, and authenticity, it is far above the level of other books dealing with the same issues. Leaders and nonleaders alike will greatly benefit from reading this detailed study of tensions, frictions, and devastations sometimes found in the Christian church, and they will learn how to overcome them."
--Dr. Reinhold Kerstan, professor emeritus of preaching and communications, McMaster University
"Some Christians believe that 'Onward Christian Soldiers' is a battle cry that allows them to firebomb their own troops. When churches split, the cause of Christ is hindered and the wounded bear the scars for the rest of their lives. How can a church keep that from happening? If it happens, can a congregation dig out from the debris and try it once more? There are no easy answers to those questions, but Ron Susek gives us a manual church leaders can follow to answer those questions and contain the damage."
--Haddon Robinson, Gordon-Conwell Seminary
"Many a church and pastor have been deeply wounded as a result of conflicts which have produced a painful separation. Firestorm is a significant tool both for prevention and healing. It should be seriously studied by every congregation, pastor, and seminary student. The fire should be recognized before it becomes a firestorm."
--Dr. Donald R. Hubbard, pastor emeritus, Calvary Baptist Church, New York
"This book is a realistic analysis of the disagreements that often tear the fabric of the church from top to bottom. Best of all, it moves past analysis to understanding and reconciliation. Those who love the church will love this book!"
--Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor, Moody Church
"Church conflicts seem to be increasing, so we welcome a volume like this that will be helpful to pastors who find themselves in tense, hostile circumstances."
--Luder Whitlock, president, Reformed Theological Seminary
Check out readers' testimonials about the impact of this important book:
I am a bivocational church starter. I had been happily starting rural churches in the Northwest, completely satisfied with my calling. Until, that is, I answered a call from an existing church. . . . They had been experiencing "some problems" and asked if I would come and help. . . . I was confident that I could iron out any wrinkles within a year or two, while at the same time starting a new church.
After ten months of deadly firestorm, I tendered my resignation. The next couple of days found me prowling around the parsonage with a splitting headache and the contents of my stomach flushed down the toilet. I was sick!
It was while I was in this pitiful condition that my wife, who was in agony over this as well, handed me a book that had just come in the mail. A friend had sent a copy. His name, plus the name Firestorm caused me to open the book and read. Praise God. What a blessing. As I turned the pages I could literally sense the Lord ministering to my confused mind and broken heart. Within hours the ugly cloud of oppression had lifted, while understanding and enlightenment flooded in to take its rightful place.
Brother Ron, by the time I read chapter twenty-four, I was convinced that although I was powerless to remedy the situation, I was innocent of any wrongdoing. With tears streaming down my face and my heart in my throat, I stood to my feet and cried out, "God, thank you for this experience, this education, and this book." I am now better equipped to start churches. Where I was just a few hours ago ready to throw in the towel and quit, I was now in unison with the book addressing Satan out loud, "This is one battle you will lose! I will not betray my Lord and God!"
So what might have taken months or even years to overcome took place in just a few hours time. . . . Thank you for a great manual that has the power to walk a deeply wounded pastor through the healing process and send him in search of new ministry.
In a recent two-week spiritual "R & R" at the Steven Olford center in Memphis, TN, Steven gave me a copy of your book, Firestorm. . . . I want you to know that God used your book to validate my pain and walk me through the process toward healing and personal revival.
Dear Ron Susek,
Thank you for writing the book Firestorm. I have been in the middle of a firestorm and everything you wrote is extremely accurate. I almost felt that I was reading my biography and truly realize that you understand who I am far better than any of the people who know me.
My husband was a pastor for sixteen years and spent all but a couple of those years in one congregation, where a firestorm began. . . . He died in his early forties from congestive heart failure that was a direct result of everything that had happened. The Lord led him to repent before he died and he made some statements about what had taken place during the firestorm and how he had responded. However, I would still be very hurt today and with little understanding of it if I had not read your book. That's when all the pieces came together for me and I was able to become free.
Thank you for helping me more than any person who has talked to me since it all happened.
From an elder in a church:
Thank you so much for your book. A friend just called to have me listen about this on your radio interview. I am an elder in my church, and I would like to prevent something like you spoke about from happening in our congregation. We are a very small body, which is beginning to grow to love one another, but there is a woman who is trying to run things her way. I need this book to know just what to do to handle this in a loving way.
From a deacon:
I plan to distribute your book to as many of the people in our church from the pastor on down as fast as I possibly can. My goal in passing out your book is to hopefully head off any firestorm that may be coming our way. . . . I hope that after many of our people have read your book, our church will take the steps necessary to protect our church.
From a former youth pastor:
Thank you for your book Firestorm. I wish I would have read it three years ago. Our church went through a split that . . . follows your phases to a tee. I was the youth pastor when the problem (sin) went public and was the only full-time staff member at the time. I (and elder board) didn't know what to do and we did make mistakes. However, I am so encouraged, after reading your book, to see we did do something right. . . . Your book will be kept close for future inevitable crises that will arise. I will also use this book in the future for my own personal pastor evaluations, etc.
From a pastor:
I have been a pastor for fifteen years. Recently I started reading some material that I never dreamt of reading before. Your book Firestorm happens to be one of them and that I am enjoying. It has challenged me and, at times, made me feel uncomfortable. I have had to ask myself some deep soul searching questions. Thank you for your book. . . . It is very much needed today.
From a minister of music:
I have been here for seven years and we are currently going through a firestorm. Your book has been a wonderful aid in assisting many of us in this crisis.
From a layperson:
I just praise the Lord for the book you have written, Firestorm. I certainly will pass it around for others to read and even give it to my pastor which he will benefit by your book and receive a blessing. I feel my home church is facing a lot of conflict, so I know I want this book to be helpful not only to my pastor but to the elder board. My great thanks to you.
"Susek speaks with the voice of experience, sharing lessons learned from guiding one large church through the raging fires of church conflict and consulting others on how to fight the flames of church conflagrations. . . . Recommended reading for all pastors, elders, board members, and other church leaders, as it saves them the pain of going through a firestorm while preparing them for one if it ever hits home."
--Christian Retailing (November 17, 1999)
"Susek brings needed insight to the topic of strife within churches--what causes it and how to prevent it, fight it, or rebuild afterward. He analyzes the process of conflict, offering advice on pastoral responsibility, 'social pyromania' or troublemaking by those who feel abused by the church, the dangers of rapid growth or marketing Jesus, and Satan's arsonist role. Unafraid of tough questions and answers, Susek discusses sin and godliness in pastors, church boards, and congregations. Most importantly, he eloquently unveils God's hand in the entire process. Laced with true stories and examples, Firestorm reveals an author who knows his subject from personal experience, extensive research, deep understanding of human nature, and Bible study. Recommend to leaders and anyone involved in church discord."--CBA Marketplace (January 2000)
"...congregations that have been through the agony of a major conflict have a guide for recovery and healing. They also have a resource to help them deal with conflicts before they rage out of control. This insightful book is the result of personal research and the firsthand experiences the author had with churches burned by the hell fires of controversy."--Your Church (May/June 2000)