Question for those involved in church ministries

To those of you who are involved with leading or serving in ministries at your parish…
Have you found it to be a peaceful conflict-free experience?
Or are procedures in place for conflict resolution and Christ-like problem solving?
If so, could you describe how they work?

In my experience you have to remember the Church is both a supernatural and human entity - so the human entity, an organization of people who are sinners, have the same challenges as any company or organization does. Depending on how many people you have to interact with, you can find the experience wonderful or very challenging. Also, leadership has a lot to do with the success of any endeavor, so IMHO find out if the pastor and Church leadership truly supports it.

It has definitely not been “a peaceful conflict-free experience.” You are dealing with human beings not angels. Most of the time conflicts are resolved within the group by discussion.

The ministry that I have experienced with the least amount of conflict is RCIA. They have a long-established team that has worked together for long enough that most of the major kinks have probably been resolved. They also treat everyone with respect even when disagreeing. I’ve also participated in “younger” ministries/organizations at the parish which seem to have more growing pains.

I left one group because of how disrespectfully the founders of the group treated other members. I prayed and cried in private and struggled and finally after speaking with people about the problem yielded no better results. . . I wrote a letter of resignation. I’ve heard that people are behaving a lot better since that time because I was blunt about not wanting to participate in a Catholic group where members were publically bullied and brought to tears on a regular basis. I wish there had been some type of system in place to deal with the problem, but the power was concentrated in the problem people’s hands. I think that having a voting system or some other mechanism so that 1-2 people cannot override the rest of the group regularly is a good idea.

There are two things that bother me (pretty much universally with any ministry I have been involved in). The first is people who run the group not being open to recruiting and using new members. They may have reasons such as they know the people they can count on or don’t think anyone is interested. They might just enjoy the company of certain people and thus open groups to people they are most comfortable with.
The second problem is groups that like to reward themselves for job well done. Our parish used to have a volunteer reception, once a year, and invite anyone who participated in any ministry. Our new pastor lets it be up to the groups to arrange thank you dinners and such. That to me is problematic, since some ministries (like sewing crosses on Baptismal cloths) are run by one member. It also leads to some groups having huge thank you dinners (the carnival committee who raised a lot of money) while other groups (like the older women who clean the Sanctuary) do not have such rewards. I do not attend thank you dinners because I feel anyone who has contributed deserves the same gratitude from the parish.
As far as conflict resolution within groups, there really isn’t too much of that in my parish (thanks be to God). There are Ministry meetings a few times a year with leaders of all the groups and the pastor. I am not sure how well attended they are, but I suppose problems could be brought up there. I have to say our priests and pastor are VERY approachable in this parish. If there were any problems, they are certainly available to hear about them and advise how to proceed.

When tensions begin to rise, usually this is my technique…I will ask our group to stop and say a prayer…
and then if the climate is still too heated…I will call for an adjournment…or a time out…so that people can collect themselves and possibly have the chance to avoid saying things they cannot easily recant. Once the mean things are said, feelings are hurt.

We are human…but that’s how I handle conflict as a leader of a group.Everything is a work in progress, nothing is ideal. Pray on it.

Oh, heck no.

No. I’ts just plain old problem solving-- some do it better than others.


That happens to me all the time; however the people that serve with me would disagree. Things would change if they would just do as I say.:smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Quite possibly my favorite response to the OP.

It is important to remember that anything involving several individuals and something they hold dear–their faith–will be, at times, a very difficult undertaking.

I agree with everyone here. We are dealing with human emotions, pride, arrogance etc.

I deal with nay sayers with the ministry that I run. I figure I get the final say so :stuck_out_tongue: :wink: :smiley:

No, but really, I listen to everyone’s ideas and concerns etc. and if I feel it will work or it is a good idea I do it. If not, I lovingly tell them I dont think it will work.

So far the only problems Ive had is with the minister who oversees the ministry I run. He is just not as motivated or into it as I am. Oh well his loss:shrug:

in your dreams
the same politics, conflicts, human frailty, personality conflicts and emotions play out in ministry, in church employment, in lay apostolates as they do in any other human endeavor. Interpersonal communications skills are invaluable assets in ministry, and lack of them can play havoc with the ministry of otherwise very competent, holy people.

there are numerous books on working with difficult people and conflict resolution in ministry, both by Catholic and non-Catholic authors. Susan Muto has a good one.

There is a sign on the desk in my office that says “God said that I be working with stuborn people - But I never thought there would be this many.” It has been stuck to a drawer for oh the past 20+ years. I really never noticed it until til this thread.

I saw another one…
God so loved the world, He didn’t send a committee!

when I was taking my classes preparatory for this DRE job on of the prerequisites listed for the job was “look good on wood”. Now I understand. since I am the parish staff person who comes in regular contact (outside Mass and sacraments) with the most parishioners in a given week, I am the one they know, the one they will talk to, the one they will complain to, and the one they will complain about. very humbling.

It definitely depends on the particular ministry. In our Bible study group, we run very smoothly and rarely have a problem. However, in groups like the Liturgy committee and the group that brings in guest speakers, I definitely think there are certain folks who attempt to take over and push their own personal agenda. Fortunately, our new pastor has decided that he will be attending our Litury committee meetings - that should help change the griping session we usually sit through where the Director of Liturgy complains about one or all of our priests.

I *WISH!!! * :crying::bighanky:

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