Conflict in pentecostal churches: The case of Christian church international, Kiria-ini town, Murang`a County, Kenya
Gathuki, Daniel Maina
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Pentecostalism began as an outgrowth of the Holiness Movement, a group that intended to perfect the Christian faith of that time. This movement started during the 20th century in the United States of America. However, Pentecostal churches are faced with divisions due to persistent conflicts that contribute to the establishment of new churches. This has led to an unprecedented multiplication and fragmentation of Pentecostal churches in recent decades. Christian Church International (CCI) Kiria-ini is a Pentecostal church that underwent conflict and eventually split into two: CCI and Glory of Christ Center (GCC). This study, therefore, sought to find out the causes of this conflict and the results. The study was guided by the Conflict Theory of Karl Marx and the Structural Functionalism Theory of Emile Durkheim that take the sociological approach to social conflict. The research entailed collecting primary data through structured interviews, questionnaires and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). A sample of 81 respondents comprising 19 CCI national church leaders, 22 former CCI Kiria-ini church leaders and 40 former members of CCI Kiria-ini participated in the study. Thematic analysis was done to establish the factors that led to conflicts in CCI Kiria-ini and to assess the consequences of the conflict. The findings show that the conflict was caused by weak administrative structures, lack of leadership skills, leadership struggles and mismanagement of finances. The study found out that, on the one hand, the conflict in CCI Kiria-ini led to the splitting of the church, rivalry with the GCC and strained relationships among members of the church. On the other hand, the conflict provided an opportunity for the spread of the Christian faith and maturity in Christian discipline among those who were involved. The study recommends the strengthening of the administrative structures of CCI Kiria-ini. Effective leadership should be instituted. Conflicts should be handled proactively instead of reactively. Further, the constitutional weaknesses that provide room for flouting rules should be reviewed.