From Stuck to Unstuck: Overcoming Congregational Impasse

by Kenneth A. Halstead. The Alban Institute, 1998.

Drawing on his experience as a pastor and counselor, author Kenneth Halstead suggests that systems theory concepts and brief therapy interventions may help to resolve congregational impasses. Churches get “stuck” in unproductive patterns of behavior and emotional interactions; as a result, small problems fester without resolution until they grow dangerously large. Halstead envisions a new leadership paradigm of creative cooperation, mutual empowerment, and trustful caring to replace the old model of competition for control and caretaking. Many impasses can be broken by asking brief therapy questions to accurately assess situations, and by looking for circular causality, emotional triggers, and different ways to resolve problems. Pastors, denominational leaders, conflict management professionals, and church leaders can benefit from Halstead’s illustrations of congregations breaking impasses and his suggestions for churches to move forward in ministry.