Church Conflict – Congregational Crisis and Trauma, Minister Misconduct
Part of the LifeandLeadership.com ministry resources on Church Conflict
Not all church conflict involves trauma, but all trauma involves conflict of the most complex nature. Most often, trauma is sudden, thus unlike other conflicts that may be anticipated (e.g. in response to a planned change), these difficulties demand immediate action and are usually attended by a swirl of emotions. Like other conflict situations, church leaders usually want solutions more quickly than is realistic. Consultants are helpful, if available. In any case, it is important to use good ministry resources to guide decisions and actions. The list below will help. Most of them are focused on clergy misconduct, although the insights and strategies are widely applicable. Remember to see the list at the bottom for ministry resources in related areas, especially in the area of Ethics for Christian Ministry.
Congregational Crisis and Trauma – First Reads
- Baylor University, School of Social Work, Clergy Sexual Misconduct Resources – A list of articles and other resources on the issue of minister misconduct. Includes the extensive study by Garland and Chavez (2009), “The Prevalence of Clergy Sexual Advances towards Adults in Their Congregations.”
- Candace R. Benyei, Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems: Scapegoating, Family Secrets, and the Abuse of Power — The most comprehensive treatment on the subject of ministry misconduct from a family systems perspective.
- Stanley J. Grenz and Roy D. Bell, Betrayal of Trust: Confronting and Preventing Sexual Misconduct. Second Edition — Grenz and Bell bring their strengths and theologians to the subject, dealing with the often challenging polarities of compassion and justice, forgiveness and discipline, accountability and restoration, hurting and healing.
- Nancy Mayer Hopkins and Mark Lasser, Editors, Restoring the Soul of a Church: Healing Congregations Wounded by Clergy Sexual Misconduct— Looks thoroughly at the unique challenges faced by a congregation that has suffered pastoral sexual misconduct.
- Jill M. Hudson, Congregational Trauma: Caring, Coping, and Learning – Assembles a cadre of professionals who contemplate how best to help congregations respond to devastating events.
- Gregory L. Hunt, Leading Congregations Through Crisis (TCP Leadership Series) – An excellent guide to the essential principles of crisis management, applicable to a variety of situations churches face, not just ministerial misconduct.
- Linda Oxford, LCSW, LMFT, Resources on Clergy Sexual Abuse – An excellent list of resources from an experienced interventionist in misconduct situations.
Other Helpful Resources
- Andrea Celenza, Sexual Boundary Violations: Therapeutic, Supervisory, and Academic Contexts – A good description of the dynamics of sexual boundary violations among helping professionals.
- Scott Edelstein, Sex and the Spiritual Teacher: Why It Happens, When It’s a Problem, and What We All Can Do – Uniquely addresses an often unspoken but real dynamic, the relationship between the spiritual teacher and sexuality, and why some people are sexually attracted to their spiritual teachers.
- Beth Ann Gaede, Editor, When a Congregation is Betrayed: Responding to Clergy Misconduct — Looks at response to trauma generally, with a special discussion on how new leaders must weather the fallout when they follow someone who has broken trust.
- Karen A. McClintock, Preventing Sexual Abuse in Congregations: A Resource for Leaders – Not focused on clergy misconduct, but deals more generally with the issue of sexual abuse in its various forms within congregations. Concentrates more thoroughly on “abuse-proofing” the congregation to keep all forms of misconduct from occurring or reoccurring.
- Joy Thornburg Melton, Safe Sanctuaries for Ministers: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church — As a sequel to Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church for Children and Youth, this book addresses the same general issue of church-related ethics, but is targeted more specifically to ministers on how to conduct themselves in a way that reflects character and well-defined relationships.
- Eileen Schmitz, Staying in Bounds: Straight Talk on Boundaries For Effective Ministry — All ministerial misconduct involves the issue of boundaries, and this book is focused on boundaries in ministry.
- Kibbie Simmons Ruth and Karen A. McClintock, Healthy Disclosure: Solving Communication Quandaries in Congregations – An expanded treatment of one aspect of the response congregations must make to a crisis — the issue of disclosure. The authors address what should and should not disclosed, dispelling notions that secrets actually serve everyone’s best interests.
Related Ministry Resources