SYSTEM 6 of 7SYSTEMS.church: UNIFIED & How to Unite a Conflicted Church 

7.6 systems yellow

This is sixth (6th) in a series of articles by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D. (12/23/16) introducing the 7SYSTEMS.CHURCH and which first appeared in Church Revitalizer Magazine.

The “7 systems” of a healthy church (www.7System.church) is based upon an analysis of 35,000 church combined with 25+ years of consulting research and practice.  An introduction to the “7 Systems” of a healthy church (www.7System.church) can be found here: www.7systems.church

This sixth installment of how to turn around a church, like the previous installments, is based upon the most comprehensive study of churches ever conducted in North America: The American Congregations Study (Hartford Seminary, copies available at www.FaithCommunitiesToday.org).

A church that has “dissonant harmony” can be turned around, but not usually one with “severe conflict.”

Every church has some degree of conflict. But “severe conflict” is defined as when opinions are so opposed that even in times of emergency the groups will not work together. A different type of tension is “dissonant harmony,” a term coined by Starke and Dyck in their groundbreaking research on church splits. They found that while all churches have a degree of disagreement, if people overlook disagreements to work together for the common good when necessary, there is harmony with some dissonance.

To find out if you have “severe conflict” or just “dissonant harmony” ask yourself the following four questions.

1. Does your church have a guiding vision or mission which most of the people work toward?

2. Do committees, choirs, Sunday School classes and teams focus mostly upon finding the good in others (inside and outside the church)?

3. When unexpected challenges occur, do the people pull together for church survival?

4. Does the congregation view itself as a faith community that at times “agrees to disagree?”

If you said yes to three out the four, then you probably have “dissonant harmony.” If so, you can unite the congregation around a turnaround mission/vision.

The secret cure for turning around a church that has “severe conflict.”

If you could not answer yes to three or more the questions, you are probably bordering on, or already in, “severe conflict.”

Most church leaders will tell you conflict is poorly addressed in the church. Having perused libraries/bookstores for decades on leadership, my hunch is that conflict resolution is the category with the fewest books published. Yet every church leader knows that conflict resolution is a key part of that leader’s job. 

But in conflict resolution literature you find that there are two simple and basic principles in almost all conflict resolution strategies. Here they are.

First, don’t get in the middle as a go-between or so-called peacemaker between the factions.

Church leaders are often inspired by Jesus’ lauding of the peacemakers in Matt. 5:9. Leaders interpret this as a “go-between” or “diplomat” between warring factions. But the Greek does not carry an idea of “go-between” but rather, “keeping aloof from sectional strifes and the passions which beget them, and living tranquilly for and in the whole.” Starke and Bruno found that go-betweens are also usually blamed for resolution failures, because they are not perceived as correctly communicating each party’s perspective. Both sides take aim at the so-called peacemaker who is then often pushed out of the organization. 

Second, get the disagreeing parties talking directly to each other.

Surprisingly, this is the central component of almost all conflict resolution programs. Only when warring parties meet face-to-face to hammer out a compromise, does resolution result. It means getting people with differences to sit down together and tasking them to come up with an amicable solution. The leader makes it the duty of people with differences to come up with a plan that meets both factions needs. 

What if conflict can’t be overcome?

In some churches conflict has been so severe, for so long that compromise may be impossible. But we have a scriptural example to follow when conflict is so severe it may be better to part ways. We see this in Paul and Barnabas’ disagreement about taking John Mark with them on their second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-39). John Mark had accompanied them on the first journey, yet left midway and Paul seemed to feel it was because of his lack of commitment and perseverance. Barnabas, whose very name means son-of-encouragement, undoubtedly saw the potential in John Mark (after all John Mark would later pen the Gospel of Mark) and urged Paul to let him come along. The scriptures indicate that between Paul and Barnabas a “sharp disagreement” arose, which in the Greek literally means “incited … to anger.” The end result was that Paul and Barnabas agreed to go on two separate missionary journeys where twice as much ministry took place. 

It may be that conflict in your church is so severe and so historic, that only by parting ways can both organizations be revitalized. Even after a church split, I have found those who remain are usually more open to change. Without the emotional disagreements and historical baggage of the factions in their midst, churches that go their separate ways can often subsequently be revitalized.

Utilizing the tools above.

If you are in dissonant harmony, continue to take the focus off of differences and get the focus back upon overarching goals. But, if you are in severe disunity then agree to disagree, parting ways if necessary. Use the questions and tools in this article to help.

For an overview of the “7 systems” of a healthy church (www.7System.church) based upon an analysis of 35,000 church combined with 25+ years of consulting research and practice, see www.7systems.church

Speaking hashtags: #CaribbeanGraduateSchoolofTheology

CONFLICT RESOLUTION & How to Turn a Conflict With Your Co-Worker Into a Calm Conversation #IncMagazine

by Deborah Grayson Riegel, Inc. Magazine, 1/29/18.

…If your company employs more than one person, workplace conflict is inevitable. And even if you’re a sole proprietor, you’re going to have challenges with clients, vendors, industry colleagues and others… you are going to come up against people who challenge your ideas–and who challenge you.

That’s a good thing. Disagreements can lead to diversity of thinking, improvements in products and services, and greater productivity. Disagreements can also lead to better working relationships, but only if everyone involved fights fair.

Let’s assume you already do–you communicate directly and thoughtfully, you are considerate in your language and tone, you engage others in a dialogue rather than a monologue, and you are focused on achieving a good outcome and a healthy relationship. Good for you!

But how do you get your colleague to do the same?

1. Telling you directly.

In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, “The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.” As uncomfortable as it feels to hear negative feedback or be confronted directly, it is significantly more uncomfortable (and less productive) to have a colleague who is secretly seething, holding a grudge, acting passive-aggressively towards you, or telling everyone but you that she has a problem with you…

Try saying this: “Thank you so much for telling me directly that you [didn’t like my decision/felt disrespected by me in the meeting/wished I had consulted with you]. I appreciate you trusting me enough to share that feedback. Would you like to discuss it further?”

2. Using a respectful tone.

In the face of an interpersonal conflict, our brains register a threat in approximately 1/5 of a second. We immediately go into fight, flight or freeze mode, and it’s easy to become snippy, short-tempered, sarcastic, surly – or even go silent. It’s reacting rather than considering how to respond.

If your colleague is willing and able to stop his automatic reaction, and demonstrate emotionally intelligent self-management by speaking to you calmly and with care, thank him…

Try saying this: “I just want to thank you for the calm tone of voice you’re using right now, even though I know you’re upset. It makes it easy for me to really hear your perspective, and to have a productive conversation.”

In the words of legendary radio host Bernard Meltzer, “If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along–whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.”

3. Being curious.

Healthy communication navigates and balances between two practices: advocacy (promoting our own ideas, perspectives and points of view) and inquiry (being curious about the other’s ideas, perspectives and points of view.) In a conflict, we tend to over-rely on advocacy–telling the other person what we think and “know”, why we’re right, and why they’re clearly wrong. Inquiry tends to go out the door…

When you hear your colleague asking you questions like “How do you see it?”, “What do you think I’m not understanding here?”, “What would you like to see happen?” or even prompting you with, “Tell me more…”, thank her for being curious.

Try saying this: “Thank you for asking me. I’d like to tell you how I see it, and then I’d like to learn more about how you see it…”

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/deborah-grayson-riegel/having-a-conflict-with-a-co-worker-remind-yourself-to-be-grateful-for-these-3-things.html

CONFLICT & Avoiding a Tough Talk With an Employee? Here’s Why You Need to Face It Head-On

by Bryan Falchuk, Inc. Magazine, 10/26/17.

…How To Do It Right

So what do you do to do this right? It is pretty simple, actually. Just tell them the truth as soon as you see it brewing. If it is something they can fix, then giving them the heads up allows them a chance to make things better before it is too late. And if it is about their role no longer being needed, just do the right thing, tell them that, and be supportive through the severance process.

The tough conversation might take an hour or two. While that may sound like more than you want to deal with, the alternative is months or even years of discomfort with residual costs for you, the employee and the organization that can go on for even longer. Do the math, and the answer of which path is better becomes obvious.

Let them leave with their dignity and career story intact. Let your other employees get on with their jobs free of the burden of an employee that no longer really fits in.

Read more: https://www.inc.com/bryan-falchuk/avoiding-a-tough-talk-with-an-employee-heres-why-you-need-to-face-it-head-on.html

CONFLICT & A video intro to LEAD 600 homework on conflict resolution & power-plays

This is a video that I provide to my students as an introduction to the weekly LEAD 600 (Congregational Leadership) topics.  I hope it also creates the feeling of a live course.

The video was recorded at the annual conference of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) which I was attending in Detroit. Dr. John Perkins (founder of the CCDA) has greatly influenced my thinking as evident from these excerpts that reflect Dr. Perkins’ influence on my articles and books.

©️Bob Whitesel used by permission only.

 

 

 

CONFLICT & The 5 Ways People Deal With Conflict

“An Overview of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)” by Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann (August 2015).

The TKI is designed to measure a person’s behavior in conflict situations. “Conflict situations” are those in which the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. In such situations, we can describe an individual’s behavior along two dimensions: (1) assertiveness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy his own concerns, and (2) cooperativeness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy the other person’s concerns.

TKI Conflict Model

These two basic dimensions of behavior define five different modes for responding to conflict situations:

  1. Competing is assertive and uncooperative—an individual pursues his own concerns at the other person’s expense. This is a power-oriented mode in which you use whatever power seems appropriate to win your own position—your ability to argue, your rank, or economic sanctions. Competing means “standing up for your rights,” defending a position which you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.
  2. Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of competing. When accommodating, the individual neglects his own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person; there is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode. Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person’s order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another’s point of view.
  3. Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative—the person neither pursues his own concerns nor those of the other individual. Thus he does not deal with the conflict. Avoiding might take the form of diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation.
  4. Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of avoiding. Collaborating involves an attempt to work with others to find some solution that fully satisfies their concerns. It means digging into an issue to pinpoint the underlying needs and wants of the two individuals. Collaborating between two persons might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s insights or trying to find a creative solution to an interpersonal problem.
  5. Compromising is moderate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. The objective is to find some expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. It falls intermediate between competing and accommodating. Compromising gives up more than competing but less than accommodating. Likewise, it addresses an issue more directly than avoiding, but does not explore it in as much depth as collaborating. In some situations, compromising might mean splitting the difference between the two positions, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick middle-ground solution.

Each of us is capable of using all five conflict-handling modes. None of us can be characterized as having a single style of dealing with conflict. But certain people use some modes better than others and, therefore, tend to rely on those modes more heavily than others—whether because of temperament or practice.

Your conflict behavior in the workplace is therefore a result of both your personal predispositions and the requirements of the situation in which you find yourself. The TKI is designed to measure this mix of conflict-handling modes.

Read more at … http://www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/overview-thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument-tki

NEW IDEAS & 7 Lessons for Avoiding A Church Split When You Introduce a New Idea

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2009.

For 20+ years I have studied how to successfully employ intervention events (i.e. introducing “new ideas” such as new programs, new pastor, etc. to intervene in a church’s decline).  Below are my top 7 tips for successfully doing so.

These insights are needed today, because a growing literature in church management and group exit suggests that without an understanding of some of the following lessons, most attempts to introduce an intervention event will not start the church on a new life-cycle, but rather split it into two smaller groups of which neither will survive.

However, seven (7) lessons are introduced (below) to make the change agent aware that before she or he creates an intervention event, they must also be prepared to study and manage the process that follows that intervention.

Lesson 1: Usually, intervention events will produce a church exit. Arn (2009) is correct that life-cycles play an important role in managing organization behavior. Management researchers Dyke and Starke (1999:810-811) concur with Arn that new life-cycles can be fostered by, in Arn’s words, “beginning something new … an intervention event” (2009:9). However, group studies literature warns that introducing an intervention event, with proper knowledge of the six-stage process model involved, will in all likelihood produce a group exit (Dyke and Starke, 1996, 1999).

Lesson 2: Usually, intervention events produce a group exit, because intervention events usually polarize the church into competing groups. Pondy (1967) discovered that introducing an idea which conflicts with a organization’s status quo, usually produces enough conflict for opposing sub-groups to form. Dyke and Starke label one group (the group proposing change) “change proponents” and the resistant group the “status quo” (1999:805-806)

Lesson 3: Most people aren’t polarized from each other, until an intervention event. Dyke and Starke concur with Pondy’s conclusion that “felt conflict follows manifest conflict” (1967). This means that most people won’t get upset until after they witness some visible or “manifest” intervention (e.g. see Arn’s list of “intervention events,” 2009:9) over which they disagree with others.[1] Thus, when an interventionist (Schaller 1997) uncritically introduces or supports an intervention, a visible (i.e. manifest) conflict event often ensues which then gets previously non-conflicted people riled up. The intervention event creates such deep internal felt conflict in individuals, that the result is a deep-seated conflict that usually spins out of control (Dyke and Starke 1996). Some may wonder if the conflict that results from intervention events is unavoidable, but Dyke and Starke have demonstrated that it is not (ibid). This leads us to the lesson 4.

Lesson 4: If the reaction to the intervention event is not managed, the change proponents will leave as a group, create a new organization that will compete with the mother congregation, and usually both groups will die. Dyke and Starke (1996:159-174) discovered that typically such intervention events propel Pondy’s sub-group into a trajectory that leads to a “spin-off” or “unplanned birth” of a competitive organization. Lau and Murnigham (1998) observe that the ensuing “we-they” competition creates two unstable organizations. Case study research has supported the grounded theory of Lau and Murningham, and Dyke and Starke (Whitesel 2004, 2009:151-169). An ecclesial organization will usually not have sufficient economy of scale to survive this exit behavior, especially if the sub-group that exits the organization is comprised of change proponents (as it usually is, according to Dyke and Starke 1999:810-811).

Lesson 5: To manage the results of an Intervention Event, ecclesial leaders must understand the “Process Model for Group Exit and Retention.” If an ecclesial leader wishes to retain her or his change proponents, an intervention event should not be undertaken without a preparation to manage the ensuing process model of group exit (an organizational model has been put forth by Dyke and Starke, 1999; and a simpler model has been put forth by Whitesel 2007, 2009:151-169, 177).

Lesson 6: At Trigger 2, go slow … build consensus … and succeed. Church leaders that keep their congregations unified and thwart group exit, undertake two (2) of the “trigger events” differently (Dyke and Starke 1999: 811-815). Trigger 1 (a legitimating event) occurs when change proponents bring a new idea to a leader, and the leader enthusiastically “blesses” or “inadvertently legitimates” the new idea. Dyke and Starke found that if the leader does so, change proponents will run too fast with the new idea. While the status quo will be initially tolerant, they will later resent the fact that they were not consulted. The result is a church split (and group exit). Instead, leaders that kept their church unified went slow … built consensus … and succeeded. When new ideas were brought to a church leader, the uniting leader slowed down the change proponents, encouraged them to go through proper channels (creating compromise and consensus), and even had them dialogue with people who the church leader knew would be suspicious, apprehensive and/or contrary.

Lesson 7: At Trigger 4 the effective leader plans for conflict, uses conflict-resolution skills and emphasizes the power of unity. Dyke and Starke found that even when Trigger 2 was handled correctly, conflict will still occur. However, the unifying leader plans for conflict, and when it arises, he or she brings the different sides together to stress that they can do more together than apart. Therefore, instead of a “polarizing event” on the route to group exit, Trigger 4 becomes a “harmonizing event” on the route to group retention and “dissonant harmony” (Dyke and Starke1999:811-815). Thus, a uniting leader plans for conflict, learns conflict resolution skills, and is adept at inspiring a church to see it can do more together, than apart.

If a leader wishes to assist the church in embarking upon a new lifecycle which Arn laudably suggests (rather than fostering more typical group exit behavior) then he or she should familiarize themselves with the process model of group exit (Dyke and Starke 1999:813, Whitesel 2003:177).

[1] This initial repression may be due to Christians typically eschewing conflict (Whitesel 2003:85-93).

FIGURE Staying Power Process Model p. 177

Citations:

Charles Arn, “Where is Your Church in Its Missional Lifecycle?” (Marion, Ind.: Indiana Wesleyan University, 2009).

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 792-822.

Bruno Dyke and Frederick A. Starke, “Upheavals in Congregations: The Causes and Outcomes of Splits,” Review of Religious Research 38 (NY: Religious Research Association, 1996), 159-174.

Louis R. Pondy, “Organizational Conflict: Concepts and Models,” Administrative Science Quarterly 12 (Ithaca, NY: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, 1999), 296-320

Dora Lau and J. Keith Murnigham, “Demographic Diversity and Faultlines: The Compositional Dynamics of Organizational Groups,” Academy of Management Review 23, 325-340)

Lyle Schaller, The Interventionist (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997).

Bob Whitesel, Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004).

Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2008).

 

FORGIVENESS & Intellectual humility and forgiveness of religious leaders

by Joshua N. Hooka*, Don E. Davisb, Daryl R. Van Tongerenc, Peter C. Hilld, Everett L. Worthington Jr.e, Jennifer E. Farrella & Phillip Diekef, The Journal of Positive Psychology: Dedicated to furthering research and promoting good practice,  Volume 10, Issue 6, 2015.

Abstract

This article presents two studies that examined how perceptions of intellectual humility affect response to a transgression by a religious leader. In Study 1, participants (N = 105) rated the religious leader on intellectual humility regarding different religious beliefs and values, as well as general humility and forgiveness of the leader for a transgression. Perceived intellectual humility was positively associated with forgiveness, even when controlling for perceived general humility. In Study 2, we replicated the findings from Study 1 on an independent sample (N = 299). Also, the type of offense moderated the association between perceived intellectual humility and forgiveness. For participants, who reported an offense in the area of religious beliefs, values, or convictions, the association between perceived intellectual humility and forgiveness was stronger than for participants, who reported a different type of offense. We conclude by discussing limitations and areas for future research.
DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2015.1004554

Read more at … http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2015.1004554

CONFLICT & Research Finds 2 Tools that Promote Intellectual Humilty & Resolve Conflict

by David Briggs, Huffington Post, 6/1/16.

Humility. Intellectual humility in particular.

New research projects are finding the more pastors are perceived to be intellectually humble, the more likely they are to be forgiven by people who took offense at something they said or did.

This was especially the case in one study for perceived transgressions in the area of religious beliefs, values or convictions, core areas of religious identity that have the potential to tear asunder congregations.

All congregations are going to go through “relational wear and tear,” and the tension can be particularly high when strongly held religious beliefs are threatened, researchers said.

But humble clergy who model openness and mutual respect may provide the “social oil” that keeps the congregation from overheating and breaking under the strain, new research indicates.

Listening to others

…Humility involves being other-oriented and having an accurate view of your own strengths and weaknesses.

Intellectual humility includes being open to new ideas and being able to regulate arrogance. Thus, intellectually humble individuals are able to present their own ideas “in a nonoffensive manner and receive contrary ideas without taking offense,” said researchers reporting on studies of intellectual humility and religious leadership. The team, led by researchers from Georgia State University, found intellectual humility was associated with higher levels of trust, openness and agreeableness.

“…The more victims perceived the religious leader to have intellectual humility, the more they reported being able to forgive him or her,” reported the study’s researchers, led by Joshua Hook of the University of North Texas.

Modelling Respect

It is the unusual congregation that can avoid internal tensions for too long.

More than six in 10 congregations reported some kind of conflict in the past five years, according to the 2015 Faith Communities Today study.

…More than a quarter of all congregations experienced a conflict in the last two years that led some people to leave the congregation, according to the 2006-2007 National Congregations Study. Nine percent of congregations experienced a conflict that led to the departure of a clergyperson or other religious leader.

Findings from the studies on religious leaders are consistent with a developing body of research that indicate perceived humility can help repair social bonds. In one study, college students who had been hurt in a romantic relationship within the last two months were more likely to forgive an offender they perceived as being humble…

Read more at … http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-briggs/saving-grace-the-leadersh_b_10209548.html?utm_hp_ref=religion&ir=Religion

WORSHIP & How to Multiply Worship Options & Avoid Worship Wars (by church size)

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/31/16.

We all know, “one size doesn’t fit all.”  And this is true with church health and growth strategies.  So let’s look at how worship wars must be tackled differently by churches that run over 100 attendees and those churches that have fewer than 100 attendees.

But, worship is actually becoming less innovative!

Research from Hartford Seminary’s Institute for Church Research found that worship is actually becoming less innovative today.  Here is a link to the article: WORSHIP & Churches Increasingly Less Innovative in Worship. Yet even though worship is less innovative (not a good thing), conflict seems to have remained high.  A key part of the solution is conflict resolution.  As a professor who studies conflict resolution, it still surprises me how much conflict arises over styles of worship.

Less conflict = Church Growth

And, it stands to reason that lack of conflict leads to church growth.  Plus, research has supported this. Aaron Earls, commenting on research from Hartford Seminary’s Institute, noted that churches that grow have a “Lack of serious conflict — Fighting churches are not growing churches. Serious conflict stunts growth.For churches that maintained relative calm—no serious conflict in the past five years—more than half grew. Only 29 percent of churches with serious conflict did the same.  For more read: 7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth.

Different Tactics for Different Sizes

But, one of the most important mitigating factors for putting and end to worship wars is the size of the church too.

  • If you are over 100 attendees you must solve worship wars in one manner.
  • And, if you are under 100 attendees, you must solve your worship wars in a very different manner.

So, take a look at these twin-tactics in this post: How to Settle Worship Wars By Church Size. At this link you will also find how you can address the “Four Forces That Control Change,” (e.g. lifecycle-, goal- and trend-orientated change forces) with two different tactics depending on the size of your church.

#StLizTX #StMarksTX

MULTIPLICATION & 7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth #HartfordInstitute

By Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/21/16.

Analysis of the American Congregations 2015 study finds seven statistics played a role in which churches experienced significant growth since 2010.

1. Growing location — The old real estate adage applies to churches. Growth is connected to “location, location, location.”

More than half (59 percent) of churches in a new suburb grew at least 2 percent in the past five years. Those in other locations were less likely to experience similar growth—only 44 percent grew at that rate.

2. Younger congregation — Churches whose membership was at least a third senior adults were less likely to grow than other churches.

Only 36 percent of churches heavily attended by senior citizens grew 2 percent or more in the last five years. Almost half (48 percent) of churches where seniors were less than one-third grew.

3. Innovative worship — Congregations who describe their worship service as “very innovative” are almost 10 percent more likely to grow than others.

Less than 44 percent of churches that say they have little to some innovation in worship grew, while more than 53 percent of churches with very innovative worship grew.

4. Lack of serious conflict — Fighting churches are not growing churches. Serious conflict stunts growth.

For churches that maintained relative calm—no serious conflict in the past five years—more than half grew. Only 29 percent of churches with serious conflict did the same.

5. Involved church members — Simply put, the more laity is involved in recruiting new people the more likely a church will grow.

How likely is it that a church grew? For those whose laity was …

  • Not at all involved: 35 percent
  • Involved a little or some: 45 percent
  • Involved quite a bit: 63 percent
  • Involvement a lot: 90 percent

6. Unique identity — If churches worked to discover and present to their community what makes them different from other area churches, they are more likely to grow.

Almost 58 percent of churches who distinguished themselves from other congregations grew, compared to 43 percent of churches who showed little to no difference.

7. Specialized program — Similarly, if churches establish a program as a congregational specialty, they are more likely to grow.

Close to 52 percent of churches that have at least one specialty grew, while less than 42 percent of congregations who claimed no specialty did the same.

These seven statistics from the American Congregations 2015 study give a picture of the churches bucking the trend of decline across U.S. churches.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/17/7-statistics-that-predict-church-growth/#.Vu_fmEX3aJI

Hashtags: #StLiz #StLizTX  #Renovate16 #StMarksTX

CONFLICT & My List of Books on Conflict Resolution

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/17/16.

Colleagues and students often ask for recommended books for addressing church conflict. Below is a list in order of general usefulness. However, since each organizational context is different, the order should serve only as a guideline.

Van Deusen-Hunsinger, D., & Latini, T.F. (2013). Transforming church conflict: Compassionate leadership in action. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster John Knox Press.

Barthel, T. K., & Edling, D. V. (2012). Redeeming church conflicts: Turning crisis into compassion and care. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Whitesel, R.B. (2002). Staying Power: Why people leave the church over change (and what you do about it). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

_____. (2008). “Go slow, build consensus and succeed.” In Preparing for change reaction: How to introduce change in your church. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

Lyon, K.B., & Mosely, D.P. (2012). How to lead in church conflict: Healing ungrieved loss. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Malony, H.N. (1995). Win-win relationships: 9 strategies for settling personal conflicts without waging war. Nashville, TN: Broadman.

Leas, S. (1998). Discover your conflict management style. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute

_____. (1998). Moving your church through conflict. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute.

Becker, P.E. (1999). Congregations in conflict: Cultural models of local religious life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Hybels, B. (1997). “Standing in the crossfire.” In Leading Your Church Through Conflict and Reconciliation: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry, 28-37. Marshall Shelley, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.

Gangel, K.O., & Canine, S.L. (1992). Communication and conflict management in churches and Christian organizations. Nashville, TN: Broadman.

Halverstadt, H.F. (1991). Managing church conflict. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox.

Palmer, D.C. (1990). Managing conflict creatively: A guide for missionaries & Christian workers. Pasadena, CA: William Carey.

Shawchuck, N., & Moeller, B. “Animal instincts.” (1997). In Leading Your Church Through Conflict and Reconciliation: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry, 176- 182. Marshall Shelley, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.

Dobson, E.G., Speed B.L., and Shelley, M. (1992). Mastering Conflict & Controversy. Portland, OR: Multnomah

Lewis, G.D. (1981). Resolving church conflicts: A case study approach for local congregations. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

CONFLICT & How to disagree with your boss without getting fired.

USA Today, March 4, 2016.

1. CAREFULLY CONSIDER THE TIME AND PLACE

… Are you in a team meeting where everyone is sharing suggestions and ideas with your manager? That could be a perfect opportunity to speak up, without it seeming aggressive, condescending, or accusatory. Would your boss feel embarrassed or ganged up on if you voiced your opinion in a large group setting? Then you’re better off setting up a separate, one-on-one meeting to talk it out…

2. START POSITIVE

… This is exactly why it’s important to start off your opposition by clearly pointing out something positive. Perhaps it’s a portion of the idea that you really liked or a piece of the process that’s already working quite well…

3. ASK QUESTIONS

Your manager is the one in charge—so he or she likely won’t respond too well if you act like you’re the one who should be doling out criticisms and instructions. How do you get around this? Asking questions of your boss is a great way to make it clear that you’re aiming to foster a collaborative discussion, rather than storming in and firing off demands.

For example, you could say something like, “I really like your idea of holding weekly team meetings for everyone to get on the same page. However, I think having these on Wednesdays instead of Mondays would be better. What do you think?”

This explicitly invites your supervisor to share his or her thoughts or feelings with you, too—meaning the conversation isn’t aggressive or one-sided…

4. FOCUS ON RESULTS

…So, if you can adequately outline the positive results of your opinion or idea, you’re one step closer to getting your supervisor on your side. Let’s use our team meeting example from above to really drive the point home. We’ll use those exact same sentences, but just add a little something to it.

“I really like your idea of holding weekly team meetings for everyone to get on the same page. However, I think having these on Wednesdays instead of Mondays would be better, as it gives everyone a chance to get caught up from the weekend—meaning our meeting will be that much more productive. What do you think?”

See how much more powerful that is? It illustrates that you’re simply trying to suggest a positive change for your office and co-workers—not attack your boss’ authority and intelligence.

5. RESPECT THE FINAL DECISION

In the end, your boss has the final say. If he or she considers your opinion, only to rule against it and carry on with the plan you disagreed with? Well, you need to respect that…

Read more at … http://college.usatoday.com/2016/03/04/how-to-disagree-with-your-boss-without-getting-fired/

CONFLICT & How to Break Through Deadlock on Your Team

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel; “Each member of your team has Assumptions, Interests and Relevant information (AIR) which you must understand before getting them to ‘jointly find a solution.’ Assumptions are preconceived notions. Interests are what they want to personally get out of the solution. And relevant information is their knowledge that they don’t want you to ignore. Asking yourself what is the AIR of each person (write it down!) and jointly developing a solution is the key according to this Harvard Business Review research.”

Read more at … http://s.hbr.org/1JUgaUC

COMMUNICATION & Seven Habits Of Fearless People #ForbesMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This article explains how to communicate to your team and build teamwork. One of the most important rules is #3, which is talk to the person directly, not to others. And #4 is to make the rest of your team follow #3.”

Read more at … http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2015/06/13/seven-habits-of-fearless-people/

CHURCH PLANTING & How Conflict Avoidance Often Leads to Church Planting

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.

Thus,

>  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:

Whitesel, B. (2002). Staying power: Why people leave the church over change and what you can do about it. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

__________ (2007). Preparing for change reaction: How to introduce change in your church. Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House.

__________ (2011). ORGANIX: Signs of leadership in a changing church. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

COMMUNICATION & How to Win An Argument #IncMagazine

Adapted from an Inc. Magazine article by Sims Wyeth, 12/3/14.

  1. Don’t convert. Forget about trying to convert your adversaries. The chances of seeing them get down on their knees and apologize for being wrong are remote. Your job is to raise doubts about the wisdom of their view.
  2. Listen. Be a good listener. Make sure you hear and understand your opponent’s reasoning. Learn how to shift gears between listening well and thinking about how to respond.
  3. Clarify. If you are not sure about what your opponent has said, ask for clarification. In the heat of battle, we often counterattack reflexively without making sure we’ve heard the other party. It wastes time and makes you look bad.
  4. Stay calm and carry on. Be mindful of your emotions. When anger and fear overtake you, your cause will be weakened. Be passionate. Be expressive. But stay calm and carry on. Anger makes you less appealing.
  5. Take control. Pay a lot of attention to the agenda of the debate and the issue that you’re fighting over. She who defines the issues and establishes the priorities is on the way to winning.
  6. Get believers on board. Preach to the converted in the room. Preaching to the choir is vital. Preachers do it on a weekly basis. It strengthens the commitment, intellectual confidence, and morale of your allies, making them more effective advocates for your idea.
  7. Play to the undecided. Do not forget the uncommitted. They are, inevitably, the majority. Your job is to pull them in your direction by making vivid the advantages of your idea and the downside of your opponent’s. You will also earn trust with the undecided if you acknowledge that your idea is not perfect, but is nevertheless far superior to the alternative.
  8. Be humble. If you choose to make a broad appeal to everyone, offer to compromise and be modest and restrained in your presentation. You may also choose to make a sharply focused pitch to a particular audience, even at the risk of alienating others. Your choice.
  9. Hit your headlines. When you have a good point to make, make it often.
  10. Make a concession. Knowing what you can concede without damaging your stance is one of the great arts of winning an argument. As a debater, Abraham Lincoln conceded that states had rights, but not the right to enslave or export slavery to other states.
  11. Paint a picture. Analogy is a powerful and persuasive way to bring a point home, especially when the analogy links the subject at issue to the personal experience of the audience. For instance, I’ve heard it said that, during the financial crisis, what the banks did by selling toxic assets to their clients was the same as car dealers selling used cars with bad breaks to teenagers. But be careful with analogies. Use them sparingly. Be well armed to develop and defend the validity of the ones you use.
  12. Offer counterintuitive points. Think outside the box. For example, when quoting some well-known figure, quote one who isn’t normally identified with your case. My favorite example of this is Senator Barry Goldwater, an Arizona conservative, who seems to have endorsed a liberal view of gays in the military when he said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”
  13. Expose flaws and fallicies. Don’t condemn your opponent for her motives. Stick to poking holes in what she says.
  14. Be an iceberg. Learn more about your topic than you can conceivably use or show. But demonstrate a mastery of the facts and you will increase your authority and intimidate your opponent.
  15. Know your enemy. Understand the position of your adversary–not in a caricatured or superficial form, but at it’s strongest. Knowing your own position is only half the battle.
  16. Be plain. Be simple. Be earnest. Don’t try to impress. Check your emotional appeals at the door. Seek to persuade with a thorough, well-reasoned approach.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/sims-wyeth/basic-training-for-verbal-combat.html

CONFLICT & How to Handle 3 Types of Difficult Conversations

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Research shows that you can’t avoid office politics. Instead, you have to participate in an ethical, team-building and responsible way. See this research on how to handle three types of situations, including colleagues that go ‘postal’ on you, how to bring up criticism in a public meeting and what do to if you are mad about a decision that affects you.”

By Karen Dillon, Harvard Business Review, 12/29/14 (adapted from The HBR Guide to Office Politics.)

Many of us find ourselves in professional situations where we believe someone has wronged us, treated us badly, or just plain made us mad. The expert advice often is to have the courage to have an honest conversation, air the grievance. No one can help you solve a problem if she doesn’t know you have it. But that’s easier said than done, right?

It helps to have guiding principles to call on when you need to work through something difficult with a colleague. But the context of your discussion also matters. Do you need to take a stand on something? Deliver bad news? Do you have time to prepare, or are you caught off guard? Here are some specific tips for navigating the most common scenarios, including the wrong way to approach the issue and a better way.

If you’re mad about a decision that affects you . .

… waiting until you’re calm, and framing how the decision is bad for the company — and not just you — will put you on a more productive path, says Jeanne Brett, director of Kellogg School of Management’s Dispute Resolution Research Center.

The wrong way: “I just found out that Peter got double the raise I got. Are you kidding me? I work three times as hard as he does…”

A better way: Take a broader view of the issue. If you’re unhappy about a decision, might others be, too? If so, why? What’s the larger issue for your team or organization? Brett advises framing the conversation as, “I’ve observed something that’s not good for the company, and I’d like to help address it” rather than “I’m really mad this decision has been made about me…”

If you need to make critical comments in a public forum . . .

Speaking up is challenging enough. But speaking out in front of everyone in your company? It’s fodder for nightmares.

Still, it doesn’t have to be. Preparing thoroughly, framing the issue with a company focus, and positioning yourself as a problem solver will help make the daunting task of raising concerns at a large meeting, such as a board meeting or all-staff meeting, more palatable and productive.

The wrong way: It’s unwise to make a statement like this in front of everyone: “I think this is a stupid idea for the company. If we keep proceeding down this path, prepare for a death spiral!”

A better way: Before you stand up, prepare to take some heat. Making a critical comment in a public forum is likely to generate anger in people who don’t agree with you. So say explicitly that you’re trying to do what you think is best for the company. But also recognize, Brett says, that you’re probably not alone: “In every case, you’re not likely to be the only person who has these concerns.” If possible, find a like-minded colleague before the meeting who might be prepared to back you up…

If a colleague goes postal on you . . .

Do not respond to raw anger. Let your colleague’s words wash over you. See whether the scene will wind down. Here’s where managing your thoughts and emotions will help you navigate this challenge successfully. “Most people reciprocate other people’s behavior,” Brett says. “It takes discipline not to get angry in response. But it’s effective.”

The wrong way: “What are you talking about?! You have no idea what work went into this project! Next time I’m not going to bother to ask your opinion!”

A better way: You don’t need to go to the other extreme and cower, or apologize for something you didn’t do, but simply choose not to engage in the battle. If your colleague is so emotional that you can’t get a word in edgewise, sometimes merely labeling the situation helps deescalate the tension: “Listen, we can trade threats and insults here, but that’s not going to solve our problem. We’re not getting anywhere this way.” You’re much better off removing yourself from a situation than trying to fight back. Suggest you meet later to discuss the problem. Do whatever you need to do to stay calm and avoid having an emotional conversation.

But because you can’t always dictate the timing — and trying to do so can make some people even angrier — it helps to respond in the most neutral way possible without conceding or escalating. Neutral in this case sounds like this: “I don’t know what to say. This is unexpected. What shall we do next?” suggests Holly Weeks, author of Failure to Communicate: How Conversations Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Right Them. You haven’t placated the person, you haven’t conceded; instead, you have calmly acknowledged that your colleague is angry. The conversation may not be pleasant after that, but you haven’t made anything worse for either of you. You’re now thinking together, rather than just reacting.

On the other hand, if you are in the wrong, and you know it, apologize immediately, says Weeks. “I’m sorry. I meant that to be funny.” That’s it, you’re done. Don’t keep piling on the explanation. Just own it.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2014/12/how-to-handle-3-types-of-difficult-conversations

OFFICE POLITICS & Why Politics Increase in Dying Churches

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Henry Mintzberg wrote the classical research on office politics. And he points out that dying organizations have a higher degree of politics which causes them to die faster. He points out this is good for it ends and redistributes the assets of highly polarized organizations. This may be happening in many churches as well. According to Mintzberg, the highly political nature of dying congregations serves the purpose of helping them die quicker and then the resources, namely people, can be scattered more quickly into other organizations. Read this original article in the Journal of Management Studies for more interesting insights.”

THE ORGANIZATION AS POLITICAL ARENA – Henry Mintzberg – Journal of Management Studies – Wiley Online Library

ABSTRACT

Politics and conflict sometimes capture an organization in whole or significant part, giving rise to a form we call the Political Arena. After discussing briefly the system of politics in organizations, particularly as a set of ‘political games’, we derive through a series of propositions four basic types of Political Arenas: the complete Political Arena (characterized by conflict that is intensive and pervasive), the confrontation (conflict that is intensive but contained), the shaky alliance (conflict that is moderate and contained), and the politicized organization (conflict that is moderate but pervasive). the interrelationships among these four, as well as the context of each, are then described in terms of a process model of life cycles of Political Arenas. A final section of the paper considers the functional roles of politics in organizations.

 

Read more at … Get PDF (1118K), http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6486.1985.tb00069.x/abstract