Welcome to the most thorough resource available to prevent church conflict and build skills for Christian relationships.
Eventually every minister faces conflict, often with those whom they least expect. Church conflict represents one of the primary factors affecting motivation, apathy and burnout. To a large degree, ministers can prevent conflict and discord by implementing relationship and communication skills. That is, these skills function extremely well as preventative measures. Unfortunately, many minsters wait until they experience severe conflict before trying to learn skills that could have prevented or reduced their conflict. Those who spend the time learning the skills prior to a conflict experience less discord and almost always weather the discord better.
Some pastors try to prevent conflict by applying conflict management skills. While these skills help to contain an existing conflict, they do little to prevent the conflict from forming. In contrast to conflict management skills, conflict transformation skills act as prevention measures. These skills result from recent research on interpersonal patterns and destructive thought patterns (completed since 1980). For instance, almost all pastors find that they and their church members tend to resort to one or more of the following destructive interpersonal patterns:
- The Cat-And-Mouse Cycle (pursuit and withdrawal)
- The Stinking Skunk Cycle (defensiveness)
- The Catfight Cycle (escalation)
- The Changing Chameleon Cycle (fear of disclosure)
- The Bird Dropping Cycle (invalidation)
- The Wolf Pack Cycle (triangulation)
In addition to destructive interpersonal patterns, many pastors find that they and their church members resort to destructive thought patterns such as:
- Communication Smog
- Thought Distortions (there are at least seven of them!)
However, research has revealed a toolchest of seven extremely effective skills that counteract the destructive interpersonal patterns and destructive thought patterns, including:
- Skills to Listen Actively
- Skills to Express Negative Feelings and Criticism (the XYZ skill)
- Skills to Stop Escalation (the time-out skill)
- Skills to Avoid Icebergs
- Skills to Communicate Assertively
- Skills to Disarm Potential Conflict
- Skills to Fight Fruitfully
In addition to the above communication skills, every pastor needs skills to build a House of Relationship. A well-built house of relationship serves as the most effective prevention tool available. These skills include:
- Building Fondness and Intimacy
- Building Respectful Dialog
- Building Interdependence
- Repairing “This Old House of Relationship”
Together, the skills above prevent at least 90% of conflict. Regardless, every minister eventually gets caught in a verbal or emotionally charged fight. Even Jesus got caught in a verbal fight with some religious leaders of His time. The “Skills to Fight Fruitfully” ensure that the ensuing fight produces positive results instead of tearing down the local church.
The above patterns and skills are described in detail with links to on-line videos that illustrate each concept. Transforming Confict: Relationship Skills for Ministers provides the most thoroughly researched skills available, specifically applied to the context of pastors. Please click on the photo below to order a copy.
Conflict Transformation seminars are available for audiences of at least 30 pastors. Click here to request more information.
© 2013 Nathan Davis