Conference Table participants wrestle with conflict [Feb. 17, 2006; e-Review Florida UMNS {0444} ]

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference Table participants wrestle with conflict [Feb. 17, 2006; e-Review Florida UMNS {0444} ]

Buchholz' irony, whether intentional or accidental, brings humor to a subject most pastors have already experienced and, if not, will. The church's task (service/ministry) orientation at times takes back seat to relational imbroglios. From the vantage of 30+ years of ministry, my thought is that serious conflict usually results from failure to clearly define task goals and cultural norms within a congregation. At the benign end, conflict reminds leadership to "go figure" their business (attended by normal differences of opinion as to what that might be), to regularly rearticulate it and to stick to it. The destructive end of conflict's spectrum occurs when people mostly lose sight of church "business's" ways and means and "get personal." When relationships are aligned to the task, the relationships are (mostly) aligned to each other. The point? Helping congregations to determine their "business" (the ministry task set the congregation accepts as their genuine "calling") and keeping on track averts much conflict. Embedding a sense of task (mission) primacy, planting a congregational culture aligned to those ends, and monitoring the ongoing results are the most effective steps to "wrestle with conflict" and create an effective church. These steps are upper leadership's main duty. To put it colloquially, "Idle hands are the devil's tools."

Neil McMullen
ABLC-University of South Florida Suncoast Alzheimer's & Gerontology Center

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