Office for Parish Service and Support > Education Resources > Causes of Conflict

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin   In working groups where people are committed to the outcome, there is a  potential for conflict.  Some people are uneasy with conflict and try to avoid it, but the avoidance of conflict within a group is not necessarily a sound  goal.  It is important to remember that the absence of conflict in groups may  not be a sign of peace, sometimes it is an indication of indifference.  As the Parish Pastoral Council or other parish group undertakes some work, it may be beneficial to consider what potential conflicts are present.  By recognizing these, the Parish Council or other parish group will be able  to deal with the conflicts in constructive ways and be able use the group’s  time to address the essential issues.

Sources of Tension within the Individual

  Sometimes individuals are reluctant to critique things that involve their faith  or parish.  They have a sense that if they say that things are not perfect, then  in some way they are being disloyal.

  This worry about being or appearing to be disloyal may inhibit them from  making an important observation about circumstances in the parish.  

 Sources of Tension within Groups

  Differences within the Parish Council and other parish groups are always  present, and may seem insignificant until the group is asked to evaluate a  situation, make choices or determine a course of action.  These tasks often  raise the level of tension within the group.  The information gathering, goal  setting and assessing phases of planning are times that require members of a  group to take a position and this is when differences may present a  challenge to the workings of the group.

  Groups charged with taking action have members with different  experiences of working on similar projects.  People draw on their  experiences to decide what actions to take. In terms of the dynamics of groups, it is healthy to acknowledge these differences and work in  constructive ways to resolve them.  The members of the Parish Council and  other parish groups should not be distressed by these differences.   They  are the result of people with a shared mission, but with different knowledge  and experiences, working  together.  It is important to remember that the  natural tension in groups often produces a more creative environment.

 Creative Tension: Making Peace with   Imperfection

  As the Parish Council or other parish working groups consider the actions  taken or that need to be taken, they may come to see that there is a gap  between the present state of the parish and the desired state.   It is  important that everyone remember that all parish activities are imperfect  processes and not to become discouraged.
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