Warring factions that vie for control. A community conflict that bled into the congregation and estranged long-time members. Lingering resentments over a clergy-parish conflict. If your congregation is experiencing unresolved conflict, this study-discussion guide offers an alternative to (a) doing nothing or (b) spending $10,000 or more on a conflict management specialist. The Parish Paper: New Ideas for Active Congregations is a monthly newsletter distributed to more than two million readers in 28 denominations. This free volume offers (1) principles and procedures by which laypersons, clergy, and staff can minimize the damage that sharp differences of opinion and personalities inflict on congregational effectiveness; and (2) a study-discussion process that helps people shift from a purely reactionary role to a more proactive one. The author suggests that five key leaders first use the diagnostic list titled “Are We in One of the Five Classic Conflict Levels?” (based on the work of Speed Leas). Then they can identify which of six optional processes offers the best hope to resolve the congregation’s conflict. Congregations of all types and sizes should find relevant content and an appropriate process in this resource.
Reviewed by Sandra Herron