Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Having coached many, many church plants, I’ve discovered their mistakes were often made due to a lack of basic business and management skills. This list of business books will provide the business foundation that ministry entrepreneurs need. Business News Daily put together this list of 40 books after asking management professionals what every entrepreneur should read. You will find many of these are recommended readings for my Doctor of Ministry cohorts.”
by Bob Whitesel, 3/10/15.
The following are notes gleaned from my consultative work, where I have found avoidance of conflict to be one of the main struggles among pastors of churches that are stalled in growth in the medium and large size ranges. Interviewing staff, key volunteers and board members I have noticed the following five (5) results often emerge when leaders avoid conflict.
Outcomes when senior leadership avoids conflict:
1.) Conflict avoidance often leads to burnout in the leader. This is because the repression of stress creates internal turmoil in the leader which does not get resolved. It usually simmers under the surface until an alarm event (Whitesel, 2002, p. 94ff) pushes it to the front. The leader has repressed it so long the leader will often overact and congregants/staff will wonder why the leader is so upset. The level of irritation is often so great that sides will be formed (Whitesel, 2002, p. 109ff).
2.) Conflict avoidance often leads to a great deal of external church planting (you will see shortly that because conflict avoidance is the rationale, these plants aren’t often given a healthy start). The senior leader avoids conflict for so long, that staff who are in conflict with him/her wind up leaving the church to plant another church. The planting of the church is actually a conflict avoidance behavior by the senior leader and planter, for in the name of multiplication this tactic distances discordant and innovative ideas from the mother church. The result is that churches become mono-cultural congregations, while at the same time feeling self-satisfied that they are planting churches (Whitesel, 2011, p. 61ff). But, often the plant becomes mono-cultural too because the avoidance of conflict is a behavior the planted pastor has seen modeled for her/him and often adopts as a coping mechanism as well (Whitesel, 2007).
3) Conflict avoidance often creates an uncomfortable staff relationship with the senior shepherd, because they don’t know how or when to address conflict. Often the senior leader will cancel or postpone meetings with staff, if the leader perceives it might involve conflict. Inside the leader may be thinking, “If I cancel this meeting the conflict will get resolved after the person has had time to think about it.” As a result, the staff will feel at the best disregarded and as the worst detached. The result is turnover among staff who are innovators and entrepreneurs.
4) Conflict avoidance results in the staff who remain in the conflict avoidance environment are often those who are accommodators, usually with a high degree of tactical or operational leadership style. The strategic leaders, who are usually those that help churches grow and help the church diversify by reaching out to varying cultures, will go elsewhere. The result is that churches have only a few strategic thinkers, are more mono-cultural and are not able to diversify by reaching multiple cultures at the same time.
5) Finally conflict avoidance often leads to a less innovative and cohesive personality for the organization. Outsiders get the impression that change proponents leave that church and entrepreneurs are stifled there.
But, in most of the circumstances above the senior leader is well liked. In my case study research, the more a leader is liked, the more apt that leader is to be a conflict-avoider. Subsequently, they may be popular among other leaders and asked to share their insights into church growth. Most of that insight will have to do with planting churches. But, if you talk to the pastors of many of those plants, as I have, you will find that they feel leaving the mother church was the best way to avoid an awkward situation where conflict was avoided.
> His/her avoidance of conflict creates an “uncomfortable” and “awkward” feeling among the staff when they are in conflict with the leader’s ideas.
> So, because the senior shepherd is well liked, the creative person will usually try to graciously distance themselves by going elsewhere.
> And, a new plant is launched – but with a wrong motivation and the wrong coping-mechanisms for handing conflict.
Thus, we can see from such case studies, that conflict avoidance can lead to a proliferation of small/weak daughter churches, less diverse mother churches and less satisfied work environments.
FOR FURTHER READING:
by Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D.
Published by The Great Commission Research Journal (La Mirada, Calif: Talbot School of Theology, Biola University), vol. 6, issue 1, 2014, pp. 22-35.
This article puts forth a comprehensive and reconciliation-based paradigm through which to view multicultural congregations as one of five models or types. It updates the historical categories of Sanchez, adds contemporary models and then evaluates each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation. The five models are: 1) the asset sharing Multicultural Alliance, 2) the collaborative Multicultural Partnership, 3) the asymmetrical Mother-Daughter model, 4) the popular Blended approach and 5) the Cultural Assimilation model. The result is a comprehensive five-model paradigm that includes an assessment of each model’s potential for spiritual and intercultural reconciliation.
This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of different multicultural church models. Daniel Sanchez offered some of the earliest depictions of such models, but 35 years later they beg to be updated. And despite the proliferation of books on the topic, no significant updating or additions to Sanchez’s categories have been offered other than the Sider et. al. partnership model.
In addition, there is a vibrant discussion today regarding how John Perkins’ intercultural goals of redistribution, relocation and reconciliation are being addressed by churches. Therefore, it can be helpful to assess how well different models of multicultural congregations are addressing each of Perkins’ intercultural reconciliation goals.
The following five models of multicultural congregations suggest a new and contemporized paradigm. I will analyze each through a 10-point grid of: nomenclature, mode of growth, relationships, pluses, minuses, degree of difficulty, creator complex, redistribution, relocation and reconciliation…
Download the full article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – GCRJ-Published Multicultural MODELS
 Though the term multiethnic church is often used today, I will use the broader term multicultural, since culture is a more accurate way to describe people who share similar behaviors, ideas, fashion, literature, music, etc. [c.f. Paul Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1976), p. 25]. Ethnicity is a type of culture often based on biological connections to a geographic area of origin, such as Sri Lankans (from the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka), Yemenis (from the Republic of Yemen) or Chinese (from the People’s Republic of China). But the term ethnicity is very imprecise, because there may be dozens of different ethnic groups that hail from the same area of origin. Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture will be utilized in this article.
 Daniel Sanchez, “Viable Models for Churches in Communities Experiencing Ethnic Transition.” (paper, Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1976).
 Ronald J. Sider, John M. Perkins, Wayne L. Gordon, and F. Albert Tizon, Linking Arms, Linking Lives: How Urban-Suburban Partnerships Can Transform Communities, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008).
 John M. Perkins, A Quiet Revolution: The Christian Response to Human Need, a Strategy for Today (Pasadena, CA: Urban Family Publications, 1976), p. 220.
This article is excerpted and reedited from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013).
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald in their classic research paper titled ‘What Makes an Entrepreneur?,’ discovered that: ‘The probability of self-employment depends positively upon whether the individual ever received an inheritance or gift.’ This research needs to be applied to church planters, but seems to forecast that successful church planters may have a member of the family that is gainfully employed and able to support the family so the church planter does not have to. For more details see the link to Blanchflower and Oswald’s paper as well as this overview in the New York Times.”