Facilitating Healthy Pastor-Congregation Relationships


Currently the church is experiencing something of a crisis in the pastorate system. Clergy morale is at an all-time low, with pastors under attack like never before. The net result is an increasing incidence of involuntary pastoral terminations, which leave a lasting legacy of pain in congregations.

Such a trend can only be reversed if the church is willing to reexamine some of the ways that the pastorate system has functioned in recent years.

The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center provides unique programs to churches concerned about the future health of congregations.

The Facilitating Healthy Pastor-Congregation Relations workshop is intended to help congregations design systems for enhancing the relationship between churches and their pastoral leadership.

It would be an appropriate workshop for pastors, lay leaders and other church members, or judicatory staff and committees.

The facilitator for such a program would be either Richard Blackburn, LMPC Executive Director, or Bill Blank, LMPC Associate Director. In addition to their long involvement in issues related to Christian peacemaking and conflict transformation, their training in family systems theory makes them uniquely qualified to lead this workshop which looks at how congregational systems function.

In order to continue the educational process after the workshop, LMPC books on promoting healthy congregational systems can be made available to participants.

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Friday: 7:00-9:30 − Introduction: The Crisis in the Pastorate System

  • Symptoms of the Crisis
  • Causes of the Crisis

The Congregation as a Family System

  • An Overview of Family Systems Theory
  • Understanding How Churches Can Be Like Dysfunctional Families

Saturday: 9:00-10:30 − Managing Healthy Pastoral Transitions

  • Saying Goodbye
  • Churches Searching for Leaders
  • Pastors Searching for Healthy Churches
  • The Pastor’s Entry

10:45-12:00 − Strengthening Support Systems for Pastors

  • Negotiating Expectations
  • Sharing the Task of Ministry
  • Pastor-Congregation Relations Committees
  • Healthy Pastoral Evaluation Procedures
  • Fair Termination Procedures

12:00-1:00 − Lunch

1:00-2:30 − Systems for Managing Conflict Constructively

  • Educating for Conflict Transformation
  • Establishing Healthy Conflict Norms
  • Congregation Mediation Teams
  • An Intervention Model for Outside Consultants

Any of the topics listed below can also be presented within the context of a shorter training event.

2:45-4:30 − Promoting Healthy Church Systems

  • Understanding Poorly Differentiated Church Members and Pastors
  • Overcoming Sabatoge
  • Leadership Through Self-Differentiation