The Healthy Church Staff Podcast

When to Confront

February 22, 2024 Todd Rhoades Season 1 Episode 34
The Healthy Church Staff Podcast
When to Confront
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever found yourself biting your tongue in a church meeting, afraid to rock the boat? This episode is your roadmap to navigating those tough conversations that are all too common in faith communities. With my background as an elder, I offer a treasure trove of insights on transforming church conflict into constructive dialogue. We'll walk you through recognizing the signs of a brewing storm and how to address them with grace and empathy. Learn the art of empathetic listening and why it's pivotal in resolving disagreements before they escalate into conflicts. This isn't about winning an argument; it's about forging deeper understanding and safeguarding the unity of our church family.

Harmony in a congregation isn't just a lofty ideal; it's attainable through open communication and the courage to clear the air. I share stories and strategies from my time as an elder on how to end every church board meeting—and any heated debate—on a note of peace, reminding us of our shared purpose and preserving relationships. Whether you're on the church staff or an active member of your community, this episode is a gentle but firm push to initiate those critical conversations. Don't wait for a small spark to ignite a wildfire; by confronting issues early and with a compassionate heart, we keep our faith community strong and united.

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Speaker 1:

I don't know that I've ever met anybody that loves confrontation, but some of us are better at it than others. That's what we're going to talk about today on this edition of the Healthy Church Staff Podcast when to confront. Hi, my name is Todd Rhodes. I'm your host today on the podcast. I'm also one of the co-founders over at chemistrystaffingcom.

Speaker 1:

Interpersonal relationships and those dynamics are tough in life, but they're even tougher sometimes in the church. Here's why because any kind of a disagreement or any kind of a conflict inside the church setting, particularly if you're on a church staff, can automatically feel like a threat not only to you personally but also a threat to the church's unity and harmony. Often, if we're not careful, there's a pressure to try to preserve that harmony by avoiding any confrontation or any disagreement or conflict. Sometimes that's just not a good thing. Let's start with some definitions. I think there's a difference between a disagreement and a conflict. Here's how I put it A disagreement is a difference of opinion. Disagreements are often minor. You think one way and I think another, and sometimes we just agree to disagree. You've heard that phrase before. So that's disagreements. Conflicts are a little bit more serious. They're serious in seriousness and some incompatibility that has involved some escalated emotions and tensions and miscommunications. I think we all innately know the difference between a disagreement and a conflict, but I think it's always good to have that definition. A disagreement can definitely lead to a conflict if it's not resolved timely in a timely manner. But not every disagreement is a conflict Not everyone is but every conflict starts with a disagreement. So here are two things that I really want to drive down on today that hopefully will help you to know when we talk about confronting other believers, other staff members, other congregation members, when do we do that? And here are the two components Confront early and listen actively. And when I say confront or confrontation, that sounds really negative. It's too strong of a word, I think. But here's the goal there needs to be discussions. Maybe discussion sounds a little bit better, doesn't it, than confrontation. It's not nearly as daunting, but there needs to be. The goal needs to be discussions that bring clarity and frame these discussions so that there's an opportunity to an opportunity to avoid any future conflict. You want to nip it in the bud so that disagreement doesn't turn into a full grown conflict with serious implications. So avoidance might seem easy.

Speaker 1:

I a lot of times, particularly in disagreements not so much in conflicts, but in disagreements you're not even sure if it's a deal, you're not even sure if it's a thing. It bothers you, but you're not sure if it bothers the other person. Communication is great and while you can avoid that, if you're not sure, if they have a problem and they do have a problem and they're harboring some stuff and you're harboring some stuff that's going to lead to some bigger problems it's best just to start with some conversations and have some open conversations as much as you can. Those discussions will help bring clarity and will help you determine hey, let's just leave this as a disagreement, or if this is going to escalate more into a conflict. So it all starts with that open communication and then, once you start having that communication, you can differentiate between the two of you or the group. Is this a disagreement, just something that we're going to disagree on and it's okay, you're okay, I'm okay, we're all okay, we just disagree. Or is this going to be something that's going to turn into something a little bit more serious, into some kind of a conflict? What is it? Which is it? And if you can identify those early signs of those brewing issues, those behaviors and those activities and those tensions. If you can identify those early, you can a lot of times avoid things turning in from a disagreement to a conflict. Determine the seriousness and determine not just in your mind but in everybody's mind and you and the other person's mind.

Speaker 1:

Is this really important? I cannot emphasize as much you need to not just go in when you have these conversations, not just go in to prove your point. You really need to do some active listening. You really need to try and understand the different perspectives right. That's why you're having the conversation because you have one perspective. The other person has a different perspective. Try and approach that with some active listening and some empathy. So here's what happens if you avoid the conversation. And here's the rule of thumb for me when I feel like I wonder if I should have a conversation, I probably should have the conversation right. If you don't have the conversation, there's going to be potential escalation. There's going to be disharmony both between you and the other person. There could be some disharmony in the church, either at the staff level or even at the whole church level. There could be some long-term damage If you avoid having this really important conversation to talk these things through, one of the things we always did as I was an elder at our church was we ended our board meetings and sometimes we'd have a board meeting that was maybe a little bit contentious, maybe there was some disagreements that could have turned into conflicts, but we always tried to end our board meetings with, right before we closed in prayer.

Speaker 1:

We would look at each other. Everyone would look at each other and say is everyone good? Is there anything that we need to discuss? Is there anything that we need to clear the air on, so that we can leave here and not feel like we have to worry about anything that was said here turning not just into a disagreement but turning into an argument. If there were, at least we could get them out on the table so that everyone in the room was aware that there were some issues and some disagreements that we needed to work at. It allowed us to, like I said, clear the air so that everyone knew how everyone else felt. Nobody was harboring any resentment that could turn in not just to a disagreement but turn in to an argument or an open conflict.

Speaker 1:

So here's how I would leave this today Should you confront? Should you have a conversation? If you don't like the word confront, like I don't, yeah, you should. Or early, but soon. Like I said, as soon as you feel like, hey, should I have this conversation, you probably should have the conversation. So do it early, have the conversation early, listen actively and try for a timely resolution that will enable peace and promote harmony in your staff and in your church. This goes for your staff and your congregation. So I hope this has been helpful. If someone has come to mind that you have a disagreement, or you're not even sure, but you thought I think I should just have a conversation with this person, or maybe it's a full blown conflict and you just got to sit down and have some conversations, if someone comes to mind, I would encourage you to do that this week. Longer that it goes without having that conversation, the more likely that this is going to turn into a conflict that could be quite ugly and hurt you and your family and your church.

Church Conflict and Confrontation Navigation
Resolving Conflicts and Clearing the Air