July 16, 2014

Managing Conflict Gracefully

Congregations need leaders who can offer more than just a quick fix. 

Is the temperature heating up in your congregation? And not in a good way?

While it is unlikely that conflict will ever disappear, the way we respond may make the difference between healthy - and perhaps difficult - conversations and shouting matches where both sides shut down. The articles and resources in this July midmonth digest offer strategies and techniques for managing conflict that allow for all to be heard and keep the focus on discerning a way forward.

Do you find these monthly digests helpful? If so, please subscribe to ECF Vital Practices and invite your church colleagues and friends to do so as well. You will receive our midmonth digest in your inbox along with our monthly Vestry Papers publication. Also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation and think about sharing your great resources on Your Turn.

Avoiding the Quick Fix
In “Avoiding the Quick Fix,” Peggy Treadwell encourages congregations to resist the lure of the ‘quick fix’ and instead address the long-term, deeper issues that are at the heart of the conflict. A psychotherapist in her professional life, she also explores issues such as triangulation and the role that family dynamics play in shaping how we respond to conflict.

Wisdom Gathered, Lessons Learned
Conflict can leave us stuck, or worse, even paralyzed. Whether it’s an issue on the vestry or in a committee, Loren Mead offers encouragement and tips in “Wisdom Gathered, Lessons Learned” on how to keep some perspective and continue working on important matters in the congregation.

Blog Posts

Making Sausage: Being part of the leadership of the church can be akin to seeing how the sausage is made. How are we acknowledging this for new leaders?

An Antifragile Church: The Power of Disorder, Change, and Failure: Where do you see the need to step out in faith despite the seeming fragility of the circumstances?

Handling Blowback: When Social Media Gets Mean: Some guidelines and steps to think through when responding and dealing with attacks and other abusive behavior online.

Tools and Resources

A Ritual of Reconciliation: A service developed in the Diocese of Lexington to help congregations paralyzed by conflict, anger, grief, and/or fear.

A Bible Study for Difficult Decisions: A Bible study designed to help congregations do the hard work of discerning whether a ministry continues to be an energetic vehicle for the work of Christ.

Making Room: Ready to take a step forward? How do we, as congregational leaders, create a safe space for people to disagree?

So You Think You Don’t Know One…

In times of congregational anxiety patterns of codependent behavior that may have lain dormant can be re-kindled with surprising intensity. These moments of anxiety present fertile opportunities for congregations to reflect courageously on the quality of their life together. “So You Think You Don’t Know One…” by Chilton Knudsen offers strategies congregations can use to break the cycle of codependent behavior, leading to healthier and renewed congregations.

This Month in Year-Round Stewardship
In “Stewardship, Tithing, Giving, Annual Pledge: Defined,” Lisa Fischbeck offers some definitions that can help us sort out the connections and disconnects between money and faith. “If we can become more consistent and clear in the words we use, more straight-forward and honest about what we believe, what we want, and what we need, the church might then be more effective in showing God’s people a way to faithful and abundant giving.”