stuff

The pastor could not sleep after the team meeting. It didn’t help that the meeting wasn’t over until 10:30 p.m. It also didn’t help that he kept replaying the moment when he lost his temper.

“As long as I am in this congregation, we will never hire a full-time musician.” That’s what a long-time member said during the meeting. For my pastor friend, it was the word “never” that made him react.

“As long as you are in this congregation, nothing new or good is ever going to happen.”

Moments of regret
We’ve all had moments we’d rather forget as part of a congregation. I imagine that many of us have experienced sleepless nights because we were upset about some comment, argument or disagreement that occurred.

Congregational conflict is as frequent as conflict in almost any other setting. Just because congregations hold high spiritual values doesn’t free congregations from dissension.

Allowing behaviors
In many of our congregations, this paradox is true: We allow behavior we would never permit in our families, or – and this is the paradox – we allow behaviors we would only permit in our families.

Resources
Years ago, consultant Speed Leas showed us that there were different levels to conflict. If conflict gets too intense reconciliation is going to be difficult if not impossible. Check out this online article about Speed Leas’ levels of conflict.  Thankfully, we can learn all kinds of healthy ways to address conflict before it reaches the point of no return. Just as individuals learn emotional self-regulation, so can communities including your local congregation.

If you are interested in an approach that places a strong emphasis on Biblical authority, you should take a look at the Peacemaker resources.

Maybe you’d like to learn more about handling difficult conversations. Here is a helpful resource.

Many congregational leaders have benefited from George Bullard’s wisdom about conflict. This book is comprehensive and practical.

I hope you can be spared sleepless nights. And if you find yourself worrying about conflict, know that you’re not alone and there is help available.

To learn more, search conflict on the CRG.

 


Tim Shapiro by Tim Shapiro

Tim is president of the Indianapolis Center for Congregations – of which the CRG is a program. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Tim’s interest in how congregations learn to do new things is represented in his book How Your Congregation Learns.

tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org