* Stay calm. Remember that disagreement and conflict are normal, not inherently wrong.
* Avoid win-lose approaches; "my way or no way" stances.
* Look for common ground.
* Listen carefully to others' viewpoints before speaking.
* Search for underlying causes. Don't just respond to the surface level.
* Be patient. Don't rush to judgment, trying to quickly eliminate tension and anxiety.
* Develop and maintain a clear, broadly shared understanding of your congregation's mission and goals.
* Seek clear, commonly held expectations of the pastor and the pastor's authority.
* Remember conflict is an opportunity for congregations to grow stronger.
* Bridgebuilders — Write Peter Steinke, Box 160693, Austin, Texas, 78716. Phone: (512) 342-8684.
* The Alban Institute — for printed resources phone (800) 486-1318, Ext. 244; for the consulting department, Ext. 229.
* Moving your Church through Conflict by Speed Leas and available from The Alban Institute.
* Mastering Conflict and Controversy by Edward Dobson, Speed Leas and Marshall Shelley, phone (800) 806-7798.
Conflict has been with us since Adam and Eve couldn't agree about why they ate the forbidden fruit. Things got worse from there. Cain killed Abel. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. King David faced a rebellion led by his son. And shortly before Jesus' last supper, his disciples argued about who would be the greatest in God's kingdom.
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