Congregations in Conflict: Cultural Models of Local Religious Life

by Penny Becker. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

“Congregations develop distinct cultures that comprise local understandings of identity and mission” asserts Penny Edgell Becker. Within these cultures, congregations establish patterns shaped by an institutional environment that limits what they are able to accomplish. Becker identifies four basic types of congregational models: 'house of worship, family, community,' and 'leader.' For each of these four types, Becker offers a general appraisal, a delineation of common values, an assessment of how ministry is accomplished, an overview of typical conflicts, and a description of how ministry values are maintained for future generations. The book provides a linear, rather than systemic, description of congregational conflict and offers few suggestions for conflict resolution. Nevertheless, 'Congregations in Conflict' could be helpful for parish pastors and denominational executives who deal with conflict situations, as Becker explains the types of conflict one can expect to find in congregations of a particular model.