Welcoming Resistance: A Path to Faithful Ministry

by William C. Hobgood. Rowman & Littlefield, 2001.

Exploring the types, bases, and processes of change, 'Welcoming Resistance' encourages readers to understand resistance in a congregation's mission-focused work. Three maxims emerge: 1) change is always occurring; 2) change is essential to the growth and development of the congregation, its leaders, and its congregants; and 3) the leader must manage difference so that it neither descends into discord nor destroys mission, leadership, or growth. Author William Hobgood describes 'kinds' of resistance (ranging from emotional to rational), the 'interests' undergirding resistance (ranging from self to congregation), and the 'levels of leadership initiative/intervention' (ranging from maintenance to transformation) that call forth corresponding 'levels of resistance'. The author provides eight condensed case studies, concluding each with analyses of resistance and response. Crucially, Hobgood turns to the leader's task of responding to resistance or reactivity. (The leader wanting to further understand how a "non-anxious presence" might function around reactivity could also consult Edwin Friedman's 'Generation to Generation'.) The book concludes by defining the “initiative/resistance” cycle, providing leaders with a template for assessing resistance in their own congregations, and listing some “rules” for managing congregational initiatives and resistance.