Creative Conflict Resolution for Faith Communities

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The principles of Creative Conflict Resolution are applicable to relationships of all types and sizes. We generally teach the principles in the context of a primary intimate relationship like a marriage for two reasons.

  1. Because the concepts appear simpler in a dyad, and
  2. That is the context of greatest concern to most of the folks who elect to learn about Creative Conflict Resolution.

But the concepts apply to all kinds of relationships. They are just more complicated when it comes to groups.

Take for example the relationship between a pastor and a congregation. In many ways, this relationship is like a marriage. There are issues around making clear agreements and keeping confidences and remaining faithful. But while a spouse is only negotiating with a single other, the pastor has to work this out with each member of the congregation and with the help or hindrance of various groups, boards and committees. And there are ways that the relationship is very different from a marriage. We don't expect a pastorate to last "'til death do us part."

There are many types and intensities of relationships within any community of faith. And the nature of the mission of the community suggests that it should be unified in attitude and action. Thus, we tend to think that there shouldn't be conflicts. This isn't a reasonable or prudent assumption.


· We all experience conflicts in our lives. No one is conflict free though some are in a state of denial about conflict.

· Our biggest most meaningful conflicts tend to be in the relationships we have with those we are closest to. The more intimate the relationship, the more compelling the conflicts.

· When we are able to name, address, and resolve conflicts we find that we have strengthened the relationship in which the conflict appeared. Resolving conflict builds stronger relationships.

Thus it is to be expected that in the intimacy of a faith community compelling conflicts will appear. Faithfulness is to be measured not in the absence of conflict but in the presence of conflict well resolved.

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