* 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.
What issues and problems produce the most serious conflicts in your congregation? What are the most effective ways to manage congregational conflicts? The Lutheran sent these questions via E-mail to all Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations that have sites on the World Wide Web. Those who responded cited power conflicts as the most frequent producer of major fights. But they also noted that conflict isn't all bad.
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