During a recent Healthy Congregations Team discussion, a comparison was made between an individual and a congregation both needing inoculations. One of the ways we protect our bodies against illness is by getting a flu shot. So, what would we need to inject into a congregation’s system to keep them healthy? In a church’s life together, occasionally there is an outbreak of bad behavior. The thing about negative energy is that is spreads. Bad behavior seems to be contagious. What kinds of bad behavior might be found in a church? Some examples are: gossip that is hurtful, people not getting their way and trying to win others over to their side, leaders trying to take charge or doing more than they should. And the irony is that the church system allows this to happen. The church’s system defines what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not acceptable.
So, what do church’s need to be protected from bad behavior? One thing is to be clear about expectations with trained leaders who model expectations for the rest of the congregation. Some congregations have behavior covenants that are easily accessible, others have conflict resolution policies. When issues arise in a church, a congregation with a healthy system will name the concern, talk about the consequences of that behavior, and confront the issue by saying that the negative behavior must stop.
We live in a culture of instant expectations, communicating via text and emails, often not making the personal connections with people that we used to make. But when we know people, we take the time to nurture the relationship, and that includes finding healthy ways to manage conflict. The best time to work on policies is when conflict is absent. A healthy congregation makes observations, explains why a behavior is not in a congregation’s best interest, and prepares a response that is for the good of all.
If you would like to learn more about Healthy Congregations Workshops, please contact Scott Woolridge via email [email protected]