For the right motives, I think churches look past areas of conflict, wanting to see the best in people. But some people are troublemakers, bent on getting into leadership as a way to get their own way, and patterns of previous behavior demonstrate this. In my opinion, people with past histories of divisive behavior need to give an accounting of what they have learned and how they have changed before they ever get appointed to leadership. Leadership in the church should be carefully guarded. After all, leaders are to be overseers who will give an account to the Lord of their oversight of souls (Hebrews 13:17). They are to lead willingly, as examples, not lording it over others. How can one lead with the proper humility, service, and teaching if that person is more concerned with getting their own agenda built in to the church's program? These "leaders" are exposed as the wolves that tear flocks apart (Acts 20:29).
When you, or your church, experience conflict, follow these guidelines to find help:
1. Listen to those you trust and follow up. If a leader or someone else indicates to you that something is wrong, listen to that person, especially if you trust him. In very difficult situations, leaders will not come out with direct accusations. But they may indicate, directly or indirectly, that not everything is as it seems. If this happens, they are looking for help. Follow up and help how you can.
2. When conflict exists, the best thing you can do is be a student of observation. Pay attention to what is happening. Note who is doing the most talking about the problems. Those who talk the most are usually (but not always) the ones who are creating the conflict. The extra talk comes in because they need to firm up their agenda with others and find out who is and is not "on their side."
3. Remember that we all serve God in his kingdom. It is Christ's church, not mine, and not anybody else's. God leads us, and we need to follow him.
4. Most churches have everything they need to move forward. Although many weaker churches have doubts about their ability to self-govern, or of their men to be qualified as elders, they can still hold teachers, preachers, and other leaders accountable to the gospel, to stick to it, to preach and teach it, and to lead by it.
5. Remember that leadership is service towards maturity, not decision-making.
6. Be very slow to appoint to leadership. Observe the "track records" of those who are put up for leadership. Be objective with this, not subjective. If someone has a track record of causing division and church splits in previous congregations, they must be able to give a narrative about why those things happened, what they learned, and how they have changed or what they would do differently. Discuss potential weaknesses with prospective leaders. Real leaders accept blame and responsibility for results and are willing to discuss how they've grown and changed. Fake leaders are not.