CONFLICT IN CHURCH

Church fights are even harder to resolve than divorces. Why? It’s because most people fight in churches about things they were taught, consciously or unconsciously when they were very young, often by their parents or by observation. In divorces most people understand what they’re fighting over and why (usually custody of the kids or property).

Conflict in church is different. People may not realize what they’re fighting over. They can articulate a position i.e. the sanctuary should be green but they may not know why. After much digging and trust building, a church consultant may find that it “feels right” to the person. Dig further and you may find the reason: they grew up in a church whose sanctuary had green walls or their great grandmother painted this sanctuary green in 1920. If there are many people with these types of attitudes or reasons, conflict resolution in the church becomes quite difficult. Church consultants may have to dig for days with dozens of people to find the main reason for the fight. And if so how do you resolve fights in church? Woe to the church consultant who discovers that a person’s mother remarked how nice the green sanctuary is or that sanctuaries should be green!

Church conflict, then, can often only be resolved patiently and painstakingly. Conflict resolution in the church often involves attitudes near and dear to people’s hearts. Church people are unwilling to compromise and thus church conflict can lead to impasse or splits more often than many other types of conflict. My training and experience as a church consultant gives me the tools and insight I need to uncover unconscious rationales for positions and unstick stuck people so they can work together for a solution.

Child Centered Mediation

Child Centered mediation is relatively new to the area and involves bringing the child’s voice into a divorce mediation process. This can be done in a number of ways. The most common and least expensive is to have a child specialist interview the kids and submit a written report to the parties and neutral for use in the mediation. More involved is having the specialist come to the mediation briefly and report his or her opinion on what is best for the child in the divorce and answer questions.  Th most expensive approach, the “Cadillac” of child centered mediation is to have the specialist present throughout the mediation advocating for the child using the information gathered in the interview. Child specialists could be psychologists, counselors and social workers. Theoretically, the advocate could be any adult who knows the child and understand the child’s wishes sand best interests. Most often thew child specialist is a professional who may charge $100-200 per hour. Hence, having an advocate for the child throughout the mediation could effectively double the cost. Still it is a useful approach especially when a son or daughter’s viewpoint has been overlooked or if information from the child might be difficult for one or both parents to hear.