Conflict Challenges Leadership


data from the Fact2000 study

As discussed previously, the majority of congregations are vital and alive. Nevertheless, some report that they have lost the energy that comes with clear vision. Age of congregation is one factor thatClear Vision Declines with Age places a drag on a congregation’s sense of energy and purpose.  Leaders in such congregations face the challenge to recover a fresh sense of mission and purpose, to help the congregation "to dream again."

Location is another factor that can burden congregations. New suburban areas clearly have more resources of family life, youth, facilities and finances to support congregations. By comparison, Place can Erode the Energy of Vision other locations 


struggle. But even a majority of these congregations "keep the faith."

Congregations suffer more when they experience conflict than age or location. Lingering conflict is strongly associated with declining vitality and declining membership. 

Conflict tends to cast a shadow across the activities and ethos of the congregation as a whole, even the capacity to enlist volunteers.Conflict Erodes Vitality

Openness in dealing with conflict is strongly associated with vitality.

Openness in Dealing with Conflict Relates to Vitality

To recover a sense of mission and purpose, congregational leaders can encourage more open communication among members.

Clarity Reduces Level of Serious Conflict

Capable leadership that enables openness in dealing with conflict can dramatically neutralize and perhaps even constructively use the energy of strong feelings that are typically present in bitter disagreements. Relatedly, congregations in which member expectations and communal goals are clear are much more likely to deal openly with disagreements and conflicts.

Indeed, openness in dealing with conflict does not imply a lack of standards or a loss of discipline. In fact, the opposite appears to be the case. Congregations that have unclear or implicit expectations for members are far more likely to experience higher levels of conflict.

Clear Expectations Help Congregations Deal Openly with Conflict

Effective leadership in congregations is not simply a matter of openness in dealing with conflict, but helping them recognize and express their purpose in action.

Clear Expectations Help Congregations Be Well Organized

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