Monday, May 1, 2017

Remedying Conflict

I have chaired well over 100 General Church Meetings, which is meetings of all the members in a Congregational Church. I have estimated that we experienced open conflict in less than 5% of Church Meetings, if one includes Special Church Meetings (which by nature are more prone to conflict). By some accounts, the general experience of Churches would be 50% or more. People commented more than a few times on the infrequency of conflict under my ministr(ies), although the conflict will be memorable (unsurprisingly). How was it done? I would see that if one exerts pressure, one gets back-pressure. Conflict is avoided or averted where the minister (who often chairs meetings) is genuinely interested in finding the will of the people – or in the Congregational Church, finding the will of Christ, through the people. That ethos needs to exist outside of meetings as well of course, or it will be weakened inside of meetings. OBSERVATION: Difficulties arise where forceful individuals enter this situation, or where a problem has taken anyone (including the minister) to breaking strain. In the case of forceful individuals, usually the will of the people is stronger – and in the case of breaking strain, usually the people can see it. But not always.

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