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Friction between combustibles

Friction between combustibles: Not having the ability to have healthy, open conversation when expectations and actions don’t match up.

(Draft)

If you have read the expectations page, then this one comes into play when there is a growing sense in a congregation that previously unnamed expectations are either being implemented or are being ignored.

When that sense begins to smoulder, it takes great maturity and wisdom and relational intelligence to generate conversation and dialogue with the involved parties that will extinguish the concerns and take fuel away. (Emotional Intelligence)

 

As I sift through the proverbial ashes after a church “fire” I find evidence “Friction between combustibles” is another major causal contributor. What I mean by it is : a lack of ability to have healthy, open conversation when expectations and actions don’t match up. Instead, the friction between the parties keeps rubbing everyone wrong and the heat increases. Unchecked, that leads to fire.

It will help understand this if you have first read the crossed expectations page.

This phenomenon comes into play when there is a growing sense in a congregation that previously unnamed expectations are being implemented without communal agreement, or when expectations that have never been named are not being met. Examples from each would be: a new pastor being far more enthusiastic in outreach efforts than the majority of the congregation expected; and, older people in the congregation not being visited as frequently as “has always been done before.” These two are all the more dangerous if they occur in combination, which seems to frequently be the case.

When that conflictual sense begins to smoulder, it is hard to generate the kind of helpful conversation and dialogue with the involved parties that will extinguish the concerns and take fuel away. Today such effort requires what is called Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Relational Intelligence (RI) or — defined more broadly — Cultural Intelligence (CI). In the bible I think it was called wisdom. What it comes down to is that we do not collectively have enough of the skills, tools, maturity and wisdom to “work it out” in a healthy manner. I will state it more directly: We do not have enough emotional maturity in our congregations.

Prevention

We need to learn to monitor our emotions and our personal attachments and agendas, and self-evaluate them critically.

A Theory

I am most familiar with the Canadian church. I have a theory, which I’ve found support for in academia and biographical material, that the combination of a cerebrally oriented faith, the suspicion of ’emotion’ and feelings that seems to have come with that, and the traumas of two World Wars, created a largely wounded immigration.

 

 

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