Church Fights: Can't We All Just Get Along?
In John 17, Jesus prayed for himself, for his disciples, and for the fledgling Church that would arise. These words always strike me when I read that passage: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17: 20-23)
However, as a very short poem says, "After 2000 years of Mass we've got as far as poison gas."
Not a very good track record.
I started this blog on my Peacebridge Ministries website but decided to move it here for easier access.
I have worked with organizational and church conflict management for most of my adult life. I have lived through and been scarred by conflicts in churches from the time I was very young. My father was Chairman of the Board of Elders at a fundamentalist church in western Michigan from my childhood well into my adult years, so church intrigue was something I grew up with. Still, and like almost everyone else, experiencing church conflict from the inside was unexpected and confusing, particularly when I was viciously attacked by none other than my own pastor!
That led to much deeper study and research into the psychology of conflict, which eventually led into the study of emotional disease in the clergy. Guess what? It's much worse than anyone thought, and we have the research data to support it.
So, what is it that I do? I study organizational behavior and psychology, the psychology of conflict, conflict escalation processes, analyze and design interventions for specific church fights, and then do the intervention. I go into the trenches where they are and lead them out. I then lead conflict-wounded leaders and congregations through a clinical and biblical forgiveness and reconciliation process.
I write about it as well. My first book, The Road Home (look to your left) was published in 2013 and is available from booksellers all over the world. My second book, with co-author R. Glenn Ball, reveals the depth and the danger to churches by pastors with the mental disease of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The titles is Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About It and we are currently seeking a publisher.
And I do other stuff. Teach. Speak at conferences. Write papers. And I'm the Dean of Academics at a small private college.