Transforming Church Conflict: Compassionate Leadership in Action


book
by Deborah Van Deusen Hunsinger, Theresa F Latini. Westminster John Knox Press, 2013.

Pastors and seminary professors Hunsinger and Latini offer Marshall Rosenberg’s model of nonviolent communication (NVC) as a transformational strategy in ‘compassionate communication’ for church leaders to respond directly to conflict and to address conflicted situations. They teach NVC in pastoral care classes and advocate its use as a communication tool in congregations. NVC is a secular tool, consisting of a four-part process (observation, feeling, need and request) to de-escalate and resolve conflict. The technique focuses on the leader’s self-awareness and interpersonal communication skills. The book discusses both basic and advanced skills. Considerable biblical and theological parallels to NVC theory are presented as part of the book’s argument for this method to be used by Christians. Emotional Intelligence Theory is also referenced. The appendices include extensive lists of feelings and emotional needs to aid in implementing NVC, as well as a brief outline of conflict intensity levels in the congregation, developed by the Presbyterian Church USA from the work of Speed Leas. Congregational leaders, especially mainline pastors, will find the biblical and theological material substantial and the technique a useful communication skill to learn and practice.

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