How Do Congregations Handle Conflict?

In the last post, we looked at the extent and causes of congregational conflict. What have we learned from our research about how congregations deal with conflict?

Handling minor conflict is no big deal. The most common way congregations deal with minor conflict is through their usual approach to decision making (reported in 52% of congregations experiencing minor conflict). One-quarter held a congregational meeting to deal with minor conflict.

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However major conflict calls for major tactics. Far fewer congregations experiencing major conflict relied on their normal procedures (21%). One-third used each of two other methods to address the situation: meeting with a denominational committee or official (36%) and calling a congregational meeting (34%). Major conflict more often than minor conflict results in use of a conflict resolution program or resources (18%) or a specialized consultant who helps congregations in conflict (11%). Though not common, only congregations in the midst of major conflict report that worshipers left (9%).

What matters? The good news is that major conflict is relatively uncommon. If your congregation should be in that situation, know that you can draw on many conflict-resolution resources and employ a variety of ways to deal with conflict.