March 2016 Editor’s Letter: Conflict

March 7, 2016

What is it about human behavior that lends itself to conflict? As followers of Christ, rather than pretending differences or bad behaviors don’t exist, can we break the cycle and instead learn new ways of building up the beloved community? Our articles this month may help congregations to do just that:

  • We start by looking back to the early days of Christianity. In “Factions to Families: Lessons from 1 Corinthians,” C.K. Robertson reminds us that Paul’s advice to the Corinthians has stood the test of time. He suggests we have a choice: Unlike the Corinthians who ignored Paul’s advice, we can choose to listen and take seriously the challenge he offers us.
  • Leadership and finances are the areas most cited by Episcopal churches as sources of conflict. Often, the response is to accept this conflict and try to manage it. Jerry Keucher’s, “Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom” suggests a different approach: addressing the underlying problem(s) fueling that conflict.
  • “One size fits all” never fits anyone well. In “Conflict: Is Everyone Being Heard?” Anna Olson reminds us that cultural expectations related to accepted forms of communication vary. She identifies two dominant norms for managing conflict that, given the cultural context of a congregation, may undermine attempts to support healthier communication.
  • Can we learn new ways of dealing with conflict? Kay Collier McLaughlin’s “Getting Along in a Really Strange, Big Family” offers an approach to help congregational leaders identify destructive behaviors and replace them with healthier alternatives.

We encourage you to think about how the ideas presented in this and every issue can provide an impetus for evaluating and reflecting on what you could learn from the experiences of others.To help in your discernment, at the end of each article we offer a list of the resources related to the topic. If you have a resource you’d like to share, please email me with the link or add it to the site using the Your Turn feature. If you are interested in Spanish language content, please visit our searchable index for our Spanish content here.

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Faithfully,

Nancy Davidge
Editor, ECF Vital Practices