Number of weeks: 2
Required books?: No
Live video session?: No
Part of a certification or series of courses?: No
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Regardless of how loving and peaceful your congregation is, no matter how spiritual or biblically informed, no matter how well educated in how to conduct church business, no matter how kind and gentle.
And difficult conversations need to be had. Confusion, differences of opinion, and personality clashes need to be addressed.
It is often the experience of many that these hard conversations are avoided. Often these are conversations that can be had with individuals, or limited to a small group of people. But, if left long enough, they can boil over and affect and entire community. And the the require a wider hearing.
The role of the congregation can vary from one denomination to another. In some traditions, congregations have limited freedom and authority. In others, congregations are quite autonomous. However, regardless of the church polity and denominational authority, all congregations have relationships, seek to form community, where relationships of trust and love are paramount.
When we do not know about conflict, or how to approach it, we tend to fear it and avoid it, which never seems to work in the long run. After talking about conflict, understanding it is normal, and developing someways to approach it, conflict will no longer be damaging.
Through this short course, we will address some aspects of these difficult conversations. We will recast the word “conflict”, from a term of dread to one of process and shared opportunity for creative outcomes. There is a need to be prepared, both in spirit and in techniques. We will look at guidelines, which are not to eliminate conflict, but to make it constructive as we seek to be faithful to God.
About the Instructor
Craig Morton is a church consultant and the co-pastor of the Mennonite church he and his wife, Karla, planted over 15 years ago in Meridian, Idaho; a suburb of Boise and one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
Craig’s consulting work helps congregations with missional imagination and discernment, navigating difficult transitions, and transforming conflict. He recently completed his doctorate in Organizational Leadership and continues to study the practices of cohesion which support denominational unity.
Craig also teaches college courses in management, ethics, and organizational behavior at Northwest Nazarene University and other schools. From November through July, Craig coaches high school and advanced track athletes, specializing in sprinting and hurdles as well as doing speed and agility coaching, for Meridian High School, and the Treasure Valley YMCA Team Idaho Track and Field Club.
Together, he and Karla have four adult children, two grandsons, a border collie/Australian shepherd mix, and a rascally cat. He loves to be outside hiking, gardening, fishing, or camping, and loves to cook, bake artisan style breads, and experiment with new recipes. You can read his blog on Patheos.