ELCA Facebook members were recently asked: How does your congregation handle conflict?
“Check out the video ‘Healthy Congregations.’ It is a wonderful resource. Bishop Hanson is featured in the video. As a pastor and as a person it saved my life, helping me to see conflict and my own functioning within it in a whole new light. Also, get to know yourself … become more self-aware in your relationships and interactions, I suggest reading Richard Rohr’s book, ‘The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective’.” — Jeff Erbskorn
“I would say extremely well. We lost our long-time pastor, but thanks to our bishop, we spent that summer discerning in small groups. The call process lasted for almost a whole year. Some were not happy with our interim, some were. Our new pastor won the congregational vote by a very slim margin after everyone had their say in the meeting. We all left not as friends but rather like family. Throughout the entire process, we only lost two members! I love my church family!” — Barbara Babbitt Bambrick
“In the past, I am told, we allowed a small group to have their way to avoid conflict. Now we are learning to listen, forgive and be open to each other. It’s still a steep learning curve, but the resolve is to not avoid conflict, but deal kindly and lovingly in all our relationships.” — Dorthy Nielsen
“Some people walk away. Some people refuse to seek peace or reconciliation. Some people avoid it. Some people shout their opinions in the parking lot but refuse to face off with anyone. Some people look for the pastor to absorb all the conflict. We used a mutual ministry process to address complainers straight on. Some of them have left. Now there is less open, negative conflict. Conflict can be healthy and lead to change. All conflict has friction and resistance. But is there a spirit of reconciling love that governs our thoughts and words and deeds?” — Matt Lenahan
“With a lot of prayer and Christian love — for each other and our community of faith! We just voted to change our 58-year-old church’s name, a huge and positive step. While there was plenty of heated discussion in the months leading up to the vote, the exchange remained civil and productive, for the most part. And — knock on wood — none of our members have left yet because of the outcome.” — Doug Hernan
“‘Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive’” (Colossians 3:13). — R Don Wright