Date of Award

4-1-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

Degree Name

D.Min.

Abstract

This study examined conflict transformation as a viable method to resolve conflict and a viable tool to train church leaders to transform conflict into sustainable peace. Conflict between congregants, specifically between leaders, has become an especially relevant issue in the church. The church tends to view conflict as abysmal failure—an embarrassment that should be hidden. The reality is that it is only through conflict that one learns and grows. The growth edge is where authentic, honest relationships are developed, ego-selves restrained, and ego-groups transcended. The author developed a training module titled “Conflict Transformation in the Church” to explore the attitudes of the leaders toward conflict. The overall training goal was to examine and change the attitudes of leaders viewing conflict from a negative perspective; i.e., avoid it and end it quickly, to an attitude of viewing conflict from a positive perspective; i.e., spiritual process that brings people closer to God and each other and sustains peace. The training consisted of one nine-hour training session for forty participants involving leaders of church ministries and some members of ministries. The session included video and audio recording, group interaction, and discussion. The researcher used data from participants’ pre and post surveys and interviews to analyze changes in attitudes and qualitative techniques to develop common themes/categories of information for the interviews.

Analysis of the Data Provided

Overall, this study supported previous research on this topic, which concluded that if church ministry leaders supported a coherent conflict transformation framework, their influence upon this foundation could be instrumental in changing the relationships, attitudes, interests, and discourses of the entire congregation. The dissertation’s hypothesis is that interaction between individuals belonging to the church, coupled with religious peace traditions, such as forgiveness and reconciliation, will reduce interpersonal and inter-ministry conflict. The researcher addressed various characteristics and manifestations of conflict by examining the root causes over a long period with the focus on transforming negative ways of dealing with conflict into positive, constructive ones. While the goal was a success of changing the lens by which leaders viewed conflict, there was not enough time to determine if the participants would actually practice the principles. Thus, in the future, the researcher intends to continue to present this church and others with subsequent training workshops on the same topic, “Conflict Transformation in the Church.”

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