It may be difficult in the September sunshine, but picture if you can the onset of a dark and bitter Siberian winter. That was when Innovista trainer Slavic first took Grace Church’s leadership team through Tempo training on conflict resolution.
Disagreements in the church had been left to fester, and the atmosphere was icy. Newcomers sensed it, and stayed away. Some long term members started to leave. So Slavic was invited to help the team tackle conflict – and the best ways to resolve it.
After covering the theory he switched to practice, asking, ‘Would you like to try out what you’ve just learned? Is there an issue you need to address?’ Two members of the team put up their hands. With Slavic’s help, they started a conversation about the distance that had grown between them. Slowly, they began to talk – and to listen. Slavic urged them not to give up until they had both voiced their point of view, been heard, and understood.
This simple exercise had a profound effect. As the ice thawed, it became clear that unresolved conflict within the church went even deeper.
But the practice of listening carefully and responding honestly helped bring layer after unaddressed layer to the surface. The team learned just how important it is for people to know they are free to hold different points of view. Together, they searched for areas of common ground and rebuilt their relationship as friends – and brothers and sisters in Christ. At the end of the training, Slavic says, ‘They looked different – they were happy.’
Brighter and lighter
The new warmth of the church’s atmosphere touched him on his next visit. Feeling fully accepted themselves, church members could now extend a true welcome to all who visited. Newcomers have felt the difference, and church numbers are growing. People report that they can now swiftly address other conflicts as they arise. This has freed them to plan and deliver activities together much more effectively and creatively. One member, Anna, says:
‘We use the steps you showed us to resolve disagreements constructively now, not destructively. Thank you for helping us.’
Through your support, you play an invaluable part in equipping leaders like these to reach their community with the hope of Jesus.