One of a series of publications produced by Faith Communities Today (FACT), connecting research with strategies for dealing with important issues facing US congregations. Here the authors analyze results of a survey conducted in 2000 of 14,301 congregations, together with those of a Christianity Today survey from 2004, both on the subject of congregational conflict. Complete with charts and graphs, this short article puts numbers to sources of congregational conflict, consequences and outcomes of conflict, and the relationship of conflict and change, demonstrating that conflict is common and to be expected. Both negative and positive results of congregational conflict are included. The article includes suggestions on congregational applications, including reflection questions and considerations for preparing for and managing conflict. Sidebars include conflict management styles and a sample ‘fighting fair’ contract. A full page of resources is listed at the end. This article will provide a bird’s eye view to clergy and lay congregational leaders of any tradition, and will be helpful in understanding and preparing for the inevitable disagreements and conflicts that arise in congregations.
Reviewed by Wendy McCormick