We often describe the church as a ‘family,’ even ‘the family of God,’ In fact, the church is like a family – and it fights like one, too! As in any family, conflict in the church family is natural and inevitable. But the way the church family handles its fights can make or break ministry. The dynamics of such a conflict typically lie hidden in a family-like system. Discovering this system and how it works can provide a whole new way of approaching and healing conflict in the congregation.
By using stories and narrative examples of real problems at actual churches in conflict, Charles Cosgrove and Dennis Hatfield help us identify the hidden structural boundaries in any group relationship. They show how the dynamics and ‘family rules’ operating in the informal family-like church system powerfully influence how church members relate to each other, do business together, care for one another, and fight with each other. The authors then provide strategies for dealing with conflict at the level of these hidden ‘family’ dynamics.