Healthy Congregations


The Healthy Congregations workshop is designed to equip leaders to respond to the presence or potential threat of anxiety in a congregational system in ways that prevent destructive conflict and help the church stay focused on its unique mission and purpose. This workshop will help you:
  • Learn how you as a leader can influence the health of your congregation – how to detect and avoid unhealthy patterns of living together in community
  • Learn how to keep anxiety from becoming infectious
  • Gain confidence in responding to challenges and opportunities
  • Learn how to put limits on invasive behavior, manage reactivity, and overcome sabotage
  • Discover how leaders can function as the congregation’s immune system
  • Learn to focus on strengths, resources, options, and the future

Additional Information

Healthy Congregations is a workshop designed by Peter Steinke, author of the books How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems and Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach.

A key concept at the heart of Healthy Congregations is “self-differentiation,” people’s capacity to calmly articulate what they think and value, and to act on that basis, while staying in active relationship with those who disagree.

This crucial training for both clergy and lay leaders is designed for presentation as a single, nine-hour workshop. It can be adapted for formats such as leadership retreats or an adult Sunday School series.


The facilitator for such a program would be either Richard Blackburn, LMPC Executive Director, or Bill Blank, LMPC Associate Director. Both are accredited training facilitators for the Healthy Congregations workshop. Moreover, LMPC staff have extensive training in family systems theory, as well as broad experience consulting with pastors and congregations from that theoretical framework. In order to continue the educational process after the workshop, LMPC books on promoting healthy congregational systems can be made available to participants.

Groups interested in exploring the possibility of hosting this event can contact the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. One possible outline for a weekend workshop would be:




What is Systems Thinking?
Video Case Study: “The Anxious Congregation/The Responsible Congregation”




Healthy Congregations Respond to Anxiety Healthy Congregations Invite Differentiation of Self

10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-12:00 Healthy Congregations Focus On Strength Healthy Congregations Manage Conflict
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:30 In Healthy Congregations, Leaders Challenge People In Healthy Congregations, Leaders Focus On Mission
2:30-2:45 Break
2:45-4:30 In Healthy Congregations Leaders Promote Health Through Their Presence and Functioning
Planning For a Healthier Congregation