Church Conflict – Forgiveness, Communication, Healthy Behavior
Part of the LifeandLeadership.com ministry resources on Church Conflict
The following ministry resources focus on spiritually mature and missionally productive behavior among church members, both during periods of church conflict and as ongoing habit. One of the more important emphases is forgiveness. The resources address both the preventive and restorative functions of church conflict. Remember to see the list at the bottom for ministry resources in related areas.
- Peacemaker Ministry Resources — Provides the most comprehensive set of biblically-based tools on helping Christians deal with conflict. A special part of their ministry is equipping church leaders. Peacemaker Ministries also produces helpful resources on interpersonal and relational peacemaking.
- Denise W. Goodman, Congregational Fitness: Healthy Practices for Layfolk — Probably the best guide for training congregational members how to communicate with one another both to prevent conflict and to manage it when it occurs. Good on how to open up communication on past issues that have lingering effects.
- Gilbert Rendle, Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences – Gives practical step-by-step procedures on how to craft behavioral covenants and helpful suggestions on how to use them so they actually become part of a new corporate culture. Develops the concept of “Holy Manners,” i.e. reflecting kingdom ethics in our behavior.
- Leadership Development Through Communication Competence – A Ministry Resource Guide on a closely related area, including resources on listening and assertiveness.
- Church Conflict – Criticism, Difficult People, Difficult Conversations – A Ministry Resource Guide including manuals on dealing with challenging people and situations.
Other Helpful Resources
- Roger Phelps, More Light, Less Heat: How Dialogue Can Transform Christian Conflicts into Growth — Offers excellent strategies to lead people from “debate,” or the “heat” of inflamed arguments, to “dialogue,” intentional ways of bringing people together for reasonable exchanges. Good biblical reflections.
- Mary K. Sellon and Daniel P. Smith, Practicing Right Relationship: Skills for Deepening Purpose, Finding Fulfillment, and Increasing Effectiveness in Your Congregation – This book is designed primarily to help church leaders develop relational competence, and secondarily to help one’s congregation “build and maintain loving relationships that provide the medium for God’s transformative work.” Healthy theological basis.
- Jack R. Reese, The Body Broken: Embracing the Peace of Christ in a Fragmented Church — A complete development of the biblical theme of unity.
- Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian, one of several essays in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, vol. 4 — A classic development of the theme of unity.
- Scott Stanley, Daniel Trathen, Savanna McCain, Milt Bryan, A Lasting Promise: A Christian Guide to Fighting For Your Marriage — This book is devoted to resolving conflict in marriages, but presents dialogue techniques that leaders may find valuable as they train their congregations on how to discuss important issues. Biblical basis.
- Margaret J. Wheately, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope and Future. Expanded Second Edition — Not church-related or biblically-based, but has thoughtful suggestions on how the human community in the postmodern era may have conversations that reach beyond our diversity and allow deep understanding as a basis for social change.
- Resources on Forgiveness by David Augsburger — Four excellent volumes on forgiveness from one of the most insightful pastoral observers of human behavior. Deeply grounded in scripture and healthy integrative of psychology.
- Robert Jeffress, When Forgiveness Doesn’t Make Sense – A very theologically rich and pastorally sensitive approach to the subject of forgiveness. It is one of the most highly recommended recent books on this subject.
- Lewis B. Smedes, Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve. Also, The Art of Forgiving: When You Need to Forgive But Don’t Know How – Provides a compassionate and theologically and psychologically sound map of the normal processes we experience on the journey toward forgiveness. The first book describes the four phases of the journey toward forgiveness. The second volume builds in this by describing more of what happens in us internally as we travel the journey.
Related Ministry Resources
- Church Conflict, Index to Resource Guides
- Transition and Change in Church
- Church Leadership, Church Health and Renewal
- Emotional Systems
- Leadership Development
- Ministry Burnout, Self-Care
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: