4. Forming Sides

by Dr. Steven G. Minor
Church Politics Administrator

“If a house divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
— Jesus (Mark 3:25)

The goals and objectives change considerably when this boundary is crossed.  Truth, reality and justice begin to fade away and personal issues take precedence.  The egos are just beginning to emerge.  The differences are now labeled as “disputes” and as long as this state is allowed to persist the hopes of resolution are proportionately eroding.

Communication is the commodity that must be preserved and upheld, but for the disputing parties it just does not matter.  They are seeking other agendas that for them hold greater angst and the illusion of ultimate satisfaction.  It’s a bottom less pit of emotional greed and self-consumed egos that will not be satiated, but into the pit the parties are ready to jump.

Polarization is the modus operandi, replacing the fading hopes of collaboration.  The original issue is evolving right before your eyes into something else not yet understood.  People are moving to positions rather than evaluating the actual events.  Talk with those beginning to join ranks and you will find they are making these steps because So-and-So is upset.  They are doing it out of a sense of loyalty, or at worse from hatred toward “him/her/them.”

Harm may not yet be the objective.  Resolution is still an open ended possibility. People are mostly just upset and want things to settle down.  The problem is in the original disputants continuing to fan the flames, rallying the troops and preserving their sense of power in the church.  Consequences of this behavior is not even on the rational radar screen.

They are not basing their steps on rational considerations.  Discerning truth was discarded sometime back; a lost notion seen out of focus in the rear-view mirror.  The sad truth of human nature is a shallow reality basing criteria on cute, quaint and nice instead of durability, effective and established benefit.  People base the final decision on a home purchase based on the cute breakfast nook or smell of apple pie in the air which the real estate baked just before you arrived.  Inferior criteria tend to push decisions over the edge.  You must be more than simply “right.”  You must look appealingly “right.”

“The first to present his case seems right,

till another comes forward and questions them.”

Proverbs 18:17

Emotions have replaced objectivity.   Perceptions are becoming increasingly skewered and rational resolution is consistently losing its appeal to either side.  They only want to be right and at the expense of the other being wrong is the necessary casualty of this selfish pursuit. Hostility has not yet influenced the motives, but left unaddressed that consequence is inevitable.  At this point the other side just needs to be overlooked, in the interest of achieving the goal of being in control.

Logic becomes irrelevant.  Your best business interventions are lost at this very moment.  It makes no sense to them.  They feel totally powerless without any useful tools.  They become frustrated.  They pick up whatever resources they brought to the table and . . . go home.   They bail on you and the process simply because they cannot tolerate the senselessness.  Like fish out of water they cannot cope with such irrationality and they fade away in sheer confusion.  The conflict is ego driven, which rules out rational thought from the outset.

According the Myers Briggs Type Inventory, it’s the Sensing and Thinking types who short circuit in this.  They are not naturally equipped to handle or even tolerate the subjective issues demanding satisfaction without reason.  They feel panic.  Their internal temperament serves them well in proper fields promoting good esteem and sound progress with their life’s work.  Ego driven issues appear far too petty to warrant time or respect for resolution.  The old confused response of “Well, Just don’t feel that way” will arise as the only resort they can muster.  Not only has a different sub-culture emerged to confuse their acute business mind – it’s a whole new dialect that fits in no category for them.

If mediation has not been sought, the sides will not be cooperating to work through their differences; in fact, they may not even be communicating.  Sunday worship becomes a pathetic display of hypocrisy at its finest.  Each side views the other as simply wrong.  If they should produce a reasonable idea they can still be written off as possibly sincere, but still misdirected.  Despite the warnings of the danger in Communion (I Corinthians 11:28-30, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”) they with little caution and perhaps even total disregard.

Matthew 5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

The motives will especially be held suspect.  If “they” produce a good idea then it’s only a matter of time before we all see what the underlying plan will produce.  Suspicion distorts any notion of finding our common ground to overcome the conflict.  Everything will be discounted as surely having a hidden Trojan virus that will devastate us once acceptance is offered.  Trust has been thoroughly been compromised at this point and although it is not too late for restitution the prospects are slipping away fast.  Calling this “dysfunctional” is being nice.

Another harmful emotion to expect is jealousy.  As “they” seek to reach their goals any step of success will be resented.  It’s a pure no win situation now.  Should one side fail in a step of moving God’s kingdom forward the church will hurt from the loss, but if one side succeeds in a step they will evoke the wrath of the opposition and the repercussions will again produce harm for the church.  When sides have been drawn the church can no longer hold any reasonable hope for positive results from any mission effort.

Conflict Concept cloud

Warning Signs

What are the gradual signs of a given situation beginning to slide toward harmful dissensions?  Just as the escalation of conflict has identifiable stages, so does this particular stage of forming sides.  The antagonists themselves have begun to build their “army” and rally troops to their cause.  Why and how do people fall for their tactics?  Normally people will not jump onto a cause simply because the chance arises.  People just don’t have that much gumption, unless their heart is pulled into it.  They must be sold on something before they will commit their efforts to such risky business as war. What are the tiny nudges happening that draw others to a Side?

1) Rationalizing for the antagonist.  Such a small and inconspicuous task, even deemed as righteous to find ways to build peace.  Didn’t Jesus himself say that peacemakers are blessed people?  People normally have such an aversion to conflict that they will seek any quick solution to get the tension back in the closet and safely bound away.

The grand assumption is that the party crying foul and rallying sympathizers is just not understood.  The hope for recruitment is in hearing only one side of this situation and may be sold on the quick fix chance and will act on that, without ever considering what the rest of the story might be.  Don’t forget the escalating side of the issue has been pushed with a plush marketing spin, highlighting ever imagined feeling and assumption that calm and mature people would never honestly consider.

A young woman so caught up into such a trap arranged a meeting with her Pastor who was under attack by such cloaking of the issues.  Her strategy: “Just apologize for what you did?”  Sound simple?  It’s a common maneuver of this strategy to proclaim with a Rodney King naiveté, “Can’t we all just get along?”  But when the attacks have already been launched, the cry turns into no more than please don’t hit me back.

The Pastor was open for any sort of solution.  However, he had just one problem.  Just exactly what was he to apologize for?  When he meets with this other person just what is he supposed to say?  How can an authentic apology be issued without substance?

The young woman had no answer.  She had absolutely no details of anything.  All she knew was that people were not getting along and she was desperate to get things back into a cozy atmosphere she was so dependent upon in church life.  She was allowing herself to be sucked into the middle of all this, which raises a whole other set of questions regarding co-dependency in conflict.  Her desire was quite noble, but the quick-fix desperation plan was far too naive.

The Pastor’s question was sincere.  He was not being cynical, nor was he even being contrary.  He was also desperate to find a solution, but he was honestly blocked on that step.  When the details of truth finally emerged it was discovered that most of the church was not just somewhat confused; they were thoroughly confused.  Objective reasoning circled continuously as people tried to make logical sense of things, until they finally realized the truth of most conflict escalation – that sound reasoning had little to do with the real underlying issue.  That’s why the targeted victims of antagonists will often question their sanity as they try to figure it all out and make sense of things.  They cannot resolve emotional pathology through reason.  It’s like trying to play football with baseball rules; it just doesn’t work.  The situation is something else altogether, and it has little to do with justified reason.  That’s why it only works in the darkness.  Shine a bright light of truth and reason on it and you will be surprised to see how quickly it evaporates like fog in the early morning sunlight.

One will step right into this illusion without even the awareness of what they have done.  They are still assuming that rational thinking is still possible and perhaps a quick and easy step really is that easy.  So they will try to clarify what they “surely must be feeling,” and that is the crux of the problem most of the way through destructive conflict; the naïve assumption that surely they think just like I do.   Since this step would appease me, doesn’t it appease everyone else?

The answer is a sad and regrettable no.  Antagonists, and especially Sociopaths, are far too deep into the issues to think as others will think (please refer to “Antagonists” in this Web Site) .  The Sociopath will never think like others think.  Their agenda is set before the escalation onsets.  When Sides are being drawn and formed the only appeasement an antagonist seeks is whether you are on their side or not.  It’s not just a major issue it is the ONLY item on their agenda list.  Their emotions are running intense and hot.  Reason has already begun to evaporate – only the cause of their perceived offense is at stake.  They have begun the crusade of vindication and victory.  Are you with them or not?

If you are not jumping onto their side then prepare to be discounted, ignored and eliminated from the reality at hand or else requiring more pressure.  Neither option is pleasant, but that’s the way of deadly conflict when egos have their way.  Collateral Damage casualties happen in war time, they will happen here, too.

2) Defending the Antagonist.  This phase absolutely reeks of codependency, but that never slows it down any.  Being careful to not rock the boat or cause any waves or risk any possibility of being perceived in a bad reflection, one will try to “smooth over” every situation of conflict.

Rodney King’s whining plea of “Can’t we all just get along” becomes their mantra and cheap solutions become the intoxicant of their obsessions.  Their own anxiety will not allow unresolved conflict to exist and they will try to avoid the reality of the issues and pull everything into their wishful fantasies of delusion.

Since Sociopaths are naturally so skilled in deception and publicizing their fantasy virtues, there are people who will actually fall for their routine simply because they want to believe that fantasy.  When they find their way into prestigious levels in their community the strategy is all the more foreboding.  For example, if they can make their way into the Boy Scouts and reach oversight duties, a timid parent might not want to admit that they subjected their children to such dangerous potential.  Naturally they will jump to their aid to protect their own sense of responsible parenting.  Their own interests motivate their peculiar move.

In other instances, a minister is usually the “new” person in town, often thought of as the “outsider.”  Good ol’ Charlie has been here for some thirty odd years.  Who would you trust?  Merely on shallow perceptions of longevity will determine the decisions of too many people who do not want to think things through for themselves.  As William James points out, “Belief creates the actual fact.” Human nature will always react to the easiest decision possible. If two sides persist, then plenty of lazy-minded people will choose the long established side simply because they have been here longer and will continue to be here. Ministers are mobile and win or lose, they will be gone within a handful of years, . . . or months.

Simply for the sake of racking up the righteousness categories, the antagonists have likely at some point done a few things right somewhere along the line.  Even if it was by accident or blind luck, people just simply never bat .000.  The have accomplished a few good things.  Worse for the other side, they have done a few good things for individuals which become credited as “favors.”  Some people are in their debt and be assured that a good sociopath will hold those favors in a safe and secure account to be used at their need.  Opposition to their grandeur is the best reason to call the favors into account.  The motivation now becomes guilt, and the poor Pastor never even knew about such matters that happened months, and perhaps years before they arrived.

The antagonist will call in every favor to defend their wounded ego.  When their sense of power is in question an overwhelming and obsession will thrust them into a desperate compulsion to be proven right.  Martha Stout notes research of Sociopaths who become totally fixated on a task and their brain waves do not record distractions.  If you ever become the target of a sociopath things deteriorate quickly into nether gloom.  A sociopath with an obsession becomes a stalker and will not stop until their target is dismissed, punished and even destroyed.

The Sociopath will not stop until their objective is achieved.  Their defective ego will push the obsession to its destructive end.  Either the target is destroyed or they are exhausted, perhaps beyond repair (Proverbs 29:1, “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed — without remedy”)

A horrifying insight into the mind of a stalker, literal or psychological obsession, is that the sociopath has no nurture in their system.  Everything is toxic.  The longer they obsess they longer they are exposed to their own toxins of hostility and rage.  If it’s bad for the innocent target, know that it is many times worse for the obsessed stalked.  Their night are cursed with evil plans of vengeance which are pure toxins.  It becomes a poison to their system and torments their pitiful soul.

Aristiotle Tyrant Religious

3) Appeasing the Antagonist.  Appeasement is the single greatest mistake which uninformed leaders take in trying to quickly resolve tension, disagreement and out right conflict.  The heart of the naiveté lies in the assumption that everyone surely thinks like they do.  They suppose that simply because a proposed solution would satisfy them that it would surely satisfy anyone else.  They fail to account for two factors:  1) When people are embroiled in conflict the common reasoning premises of reason have long since been abandoned and 2) “Sociopaths” are not just a myth; they exist and are naturally drawn in to any and perhaps every conflict.  Given a tense war of control and ownership that has escalated well beyond sensible means and you will normally find a sociopath having the time of their life.  Any concessions will never be perceived as earnest efforts of resolution, but only as weakness.  Give a sociopath any ground and they will never see it as positive negotiation and compromise, but only as affirmation that their strategies are actually working.

4) Implying “shared” blame onto both parties, especially the victimized party.  When someone is sucked into the “co-dependency” like trap of soothing the divide they will slide right along with the antagonist into the deeper and darker abyss of deception.  They will grope for something to attach with reason and usually finding little or no points for it will continue to search for “something,” anything to justify the anger and hurt of their assumed friend.  It’s in the futile quest of finding a reasonable cause of the distress that they will resort to this naïve stage that “Surely you did something wrong, too.”

Antagonists get upset without a justified or noble reason and it will confound a normal person’s sense of reason.  It won’t compute; surely there is more to this story.  Even their intuition will betray their hope for sense in all this mayhem.  Their biggest mistake will be to assume that everyone thinks like they do, but when pride seizes the wounded ego of an antagonist reason is an early casualty.  A sensible solution is not to be, yet good hearted by-standers trying to be noble Peace-makers will enter the fray anyway with a fantasy quest of resolution.  Their plan makes sense in their own mind, but the tragedy is exposed when they seek to force it into reality.

When normal people have a dispute that has not been contaminated by pride and power grasping, shared blame is a proper recourse.  “Where there is smoke there is fire” truly can direct the investigation of truth.  However, once conflict has taken hold and its slide has begun, reason will be compromised step by step.  The longer resentment abides the more reason will betray the solution (see especially the schemes of Daniel Ariely, “Predictably Irrational,” Harper Perennial; Rev edition, 2010 ).  With healthy negotiation, shared blame may be a hopeful strategy toward all parties laying down their offenses in mutual, humble compromise.

Even an innocent party will be subjected to suspicion and even derision.  As long as the mediators are stuck in their “common sense” mode justice will not be achieved.  Pride and power simply operate on different levels.  Common sense may become a symptom of a group’s naiveté to the problem.  The solution goes much deeper than the bulk of humanity is willing to plumb.  We have entered community territory that requires trained specialists to move beyond simple solutions that merely sooth the dispute without daring to resolve anything.

Are both sides always at fault?  Only in the most theoretical of scenarios will that always be true.  One must contrive their logic to uphold that premise.  The blame is always lop-sided when conflict escalates.  An innocent party’s blame will be seen in defensive maneuverings.  They will be the ones asserting their ground and resisting offense and accusations.  They will no be the ones using threats and intimidation.  They may urge help and even rescue, but they keep tactics up in the light.  This may be a noble testimony of reasonable character and peace of mind, but the plan is unfortunate when scared people are involved.  Because when they feel the intensity of pressure and are looking for an easy way out — the lack of hostile intent will become their undoing.  They will be the safe side to expunge from the community because they have shown how they will not retaliate and cause harm.  It’s a cowardly and hypocritical approach for the cause of justice, but welcome to our fallen world.

5) Projecting fault onto the other party.  The naïve mediators have now become fully won over converts to the antagonists, even though they may not realize it yet.  Their frustration with the failure of reason will compel them into unknown territory in which they will label innocent people liars who must be exposed.  They will overlook the faults and same accusations with the antagonists, choosing to compensate their foiled efforts at a quick resolution.

Once the antagonists have achieved their goal of bolstering their side the battle will descend quicker into the milieu of hate and fear.

Whatever hidden issues they may have suspected of you before are not fully justified and exerted.  Even what they did not suspect of you before will materialize like a snowball rolling down a snow covered hill, picking up weight and size as it rolls along.  The conflict will escalate at its fastest pace during this exact slide away from reason and justice; defying the very call of Christ’s peace and community-building.  The new converts are now fulfilling every goal of the sinful forces of darkness that would destroy every foothold of God’s kingdom.  The tragedy is only magnified when we realize that they pursue this course of carnal desire with mindless abandon, no longer aware of the harm they cause the higher calling of heaven.


Proverbs 19:11
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

What can a minister or community leader do when the “slide” into dark conflict happens?  You must preserve your dignity and innocence.  Once the antagonists begin to recruit the bystanders and build their army against you, the battle has already begun to turn against you.  You may not survive this battle-field today, but if you maintain dignity with yourself and those who matter, you will live to fight another day.

Your best weapons are 1) Light and 2) Love striving for unity!  These tools have little effect with ego-driven antagonists and they will run right through them and harm you.  However, for the upright people still watching this battle unfurl, it will be their only way to defend you and come to your rescue.  As Jesus instructs his disciples, do not strike back.  Once you retaliate in kind using mean spirited weapons of hate and discord you will lose your chance of anyone coming to your rescue.

Those rescuers are the key to everything, because they are not distant strangers, they are the main fabric of the community.  They just have not stepped up to their duty of defending their love of what is right.  Preserving unity is your goal.  If you can accomplish this, you will be saved and your community will not only survive it will gain renewed strength.  If it finally responds it can only become stronger.

 “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”     William James (1842-1910)


“. . . and everybody feels this way!”

Such a classic conflict phrase.  A disgruntled church member will espouse this in the hopes of rallying others to their side.  Antagonists arrive at this expression with such predictable regularity.  The short sighted conclusion is a natural result of their desires for power and “winning” this disagreement.  But when we break this phrase down in careful exegesis be sure to recognize the thorns of its abuse.

1) Narrow minded.  The one who espouses this phrase needs to be seen as drastically over-simplifying the situation.  They are not conceiving the entire situation, only their choice perspective or selected reality.  Simple truth, their circle of friends is rather limited and small.

2) Narcissistic.  They are thinking no further than their own ego.  They want to be right and the cost to others is inconsequential.  Even the malicious damage to innocent reputations hold no restraint.  Such a selfish quest is not rare.  It happens all the time.  It causes too much dread to be acknowledged and confronted.

3) Closed off perspective.   The limited perspective actually reveals their limited awareness.  The “everybody” is actually their own realm of experience.  Everyone within this limited theater may feel that way, but they are no more than a handful that befriend the antagonist, perhaps on the particular gripe at hand.   Since they do not recognize or accept any other viewpoints, that handful of discontents amount to no more than just them.  They are exposing their group as a choice clique.

4) Escalation statement.  This is the harshest reality of this ordeal.  A magnified statement like this is begging to escalate the grip to full blown catastrophic conflict.  They are demanding their will to prevail, but only imagining many who will rally to their side.  If you do not agree then you are on your own, vulnerable to the turmoil of the masses.

How unfortunate the novice minister or manager who believes the bluff.   Their own emotional pain will be magnifying their fears, bracing for the worst case scenario whatever that might be.  Hearing such a statement only confirms those fears.  Insecurity will always spawn isolation and this phrase strikes at the most vulnerable place of our insecure heart.  It’s as though a masterful spirit has taken control and orchestrating the very most effective devastation.

1 Do not envy the wicked,

do not desire their company;

2 for their hearts plot violence,

and their lips talk about making trouble.

Proverbs 24:1-2

The only people who listen to both sides of an argument are the neighbors.


Detachment and Stress

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

This has often been attributed to Sun Tzu and sometimes to Niccolò Machiavelli or Petrarch, but there are no published sources yet found which predate its use by Michael Corleone in The Godfather; Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola:

My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”

This phrase sounds catchy and worthy of repeating, however … how true is it for a church setting, especially for holding the leadership’s sanity in place?  It might work for a Mafia scenario, but groups seeking benevolent ends will find plenty of despair and exhaustion trying to follow this movie advice.

Our plight runs a risk when “being nice” determines our path.  In the name of “being nice” we run the risk of avoidance and inactivity, allowing situations to escalate freely because no one is willing to confront the uncomfortable emotions.   Running the “Being Nice” efforts may actually lead to a debilitating syndrome when it surpasses normal boundaries.  Eventually we reach quite a paradox in which people become ruthless while repressing or avoiding their “Being Nice” agenda.  The frustrated victims become rather vindictive and even mean.  Groups only delay the inevitable when they to appease antagonists; and worse they are affording the antagonists time to consort and devise their schemes for the ultimate goal: Domination.

Looking more carefully at this “Nice” objective God’s word has a couple interesting qualifiers to it.  Romans 12:18 is our prime text,

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

“Live at peace with everyone” is our basis for this “Being Nice” appearance.    Trying to appear pleasing to our community can leave us vulnerable to unworthy agendas.  Even Paul hesitates twice before putting this into print, “If it is possible” and “as far as it depends on you” expresses plenty of reservation.  He knows full well that the world holds many unlovable and even ruthless people.  Pseudo community will not be placed at risk just to present a nice sounding idealized rhetoric.  Genuine fellowship is too valuable to pass off as such a shallow display of inauthentic care.

Later, in 2 Timothy even mentioning trouble-makers by name is not a problem.  Surely Demas and Alexander regret having their names listed in infamy under such dire circumstances (2 Timothy 4:10, 14).  Paul does not list directives he himself cannot master.  In truth, even the great apostle faces “Being Nice” as an ambivalent ideal.  We ought to give ourselves some grace in facing difficult people as well.  Do what you can, but in the long run … well, let’s not forget to be real human beings, facing hostile people seeking no less thant heir own greedy quest for Power and Control.


Cui Bono

Cui bono /kwiːˈboʊnoʊ/ (“to whose benefit?”, literally “as a benefit to whom?” is a Latin saying which is still used.  The phrase is a double dative construction). It is also rendered as cui prodest.

It is a Latin adage that is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be.

The phrase is commonly used to suggest that the person or people guilty of committing a crime may be found among those who have something to gain, chiefly with an eye toward financial gain. The party that benefits may not always be obvious or may have successfully diverted attention to a scapegoat, for example.

The Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, in his speech, Pro Roscio Amerino, section 84, attributed the expression cui bono to the Roman consul and censor Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla:

Cassius ille quem populus Romanus verissimum et sapientissimum iudicem putabat identidem in causis quaerere solebat ‘cui bono’ fuisset.

The famous Lucius Cassius, whom the Roman people used to regard as a very honest and wise judge, was in the habit of asking, time and again, ‘To whose benefit?’

Another example of Cicero using “cui bono” is in his defence of Milo, in the Pro Milone. He even makes a reference to Cassius: “let that maxim of Cassius apply”.

Trust Freud’s Pleasure/Power Principle in this context – people will respond according to their personal interests.

Qui Patatur?

“Who suffers?”


Qui Pacat?

“Who pays?”



Proverbs 28:12

“When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;   but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.”

When good people are in control, and consequently with good agendas, people can step out with enough courage and guidance to effectively create a healthy environment.  But bad people will repel others, crippling them into inactivity, evasion and ultimately evacuation from the church itself.

Leadership is the sphere of activity in mind.  When righteous people can take such places then positive results happen and everyone prospers.  The righteous focus their ability to hold to a steady course and seek the welfare of the whole.  Their personal stakes remain secondary to their leadership goals.   This is why they are recognized as righteous people.  They seek right agendas and the overall good.

Contrasting this quest with the “wicked,” one can draw a precise assessment of them in their selfish pursuits.   Their agenda does not consider the needs of others or the best of the whole; only of themselves.  In their pursuit of power a ruthless spirit arises and people huddle away for fear of their bullying tactics.

Notice that the issue of “power” is not placed with the triumph of the righteous.  Only the wicked consider the gain of “power” for itself.  In fact, the pursuit of power as an end in itself, instead of a tool for achieving more noble things, present the evolving influence of evil within the wicked.  Like Tolkien’s Ring degrading Smeagol into Gollum, so does the craving for power itself damage that sacred within each of us.


Root of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:15

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God

and that no bitter root grows up

to cause trouble and defile many.”


Deuteronomy 19:18

“It may be that there is among you a root sprouting poisonous and bitter growth.”      (NRSV)


The problem with roots

1) They grow underground, out of sight.

2) They grow aggressively, digging through much soil to find their nourishing objectives.

3) They sprout up at unexpected places, sometimes far away from their primary source.  The new sprouting may not make any sense whatsoever.


When ‘Normal’ is Lost

Journey into irrational fantasies where reality is compromised into Wishful Thinking and emotional impulses overpower reasonable decision making.

The system has become gridlocked so that cooperation is discarded as an illusive and unnecessary luxury.  Everything is self-confined and confined to broken relational principles.  Escalated conflict does not seek truthful solutions, only to establish its own rightness.

Breaking this gridlock requires influence from the outside.  The system has been trapped and contaminated by its own narcissistic impulses.  It’s dysfunctional and cannot handle effective strategies.  Help must come from beyond itself.

An objective counselor is the best alternative.  These are known as “Conflict Mediators” or “Alternative Dispute Arbitrators.”  Their services are normally quite costly and at up-front fees.  A $5,000 retainer is not at all unusual.  If your church or other system can afford this you should go this route the sooner the better.

Another approach that should used early on is to simply investigate the effectiveness of other churches.  How do they do it?  Granted one should beware to never attempt to replicate their system.  No two systems will ever be exactly the same.  But gleaning insights is recommended.  Once these are observed, considered and processed then you may move into the next stage.  If it’s your own considerations this is where “Innovation” is bred.

Find a sister congregation with as similar business model as possible.  How do they handle such conflict and gridlock?  Were there past situation similar to your own and how did they do?  Both good and bad experiences are helpful.  Here’s what to try and here’s what to avoid.

When your system has lost its sense of normal, find a functional model to provide your picture of how you should be functioning through such an ordeal.  Finding a visible model will provide your work of describing your goals of resolution.   Others might have the chance of gaining a greater and healthier picture of where they need and in truth ‘want’ to be.


“The Inner Ring,” by C. S. Lewis

“I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.”

In his Memorial Lecture at King’s College, University of London, in 1944, C. S. Lewis casts a hearty jab at the notions of Sigmund Freud’s assertion that sexual impulse is the chief drive of human nature.  Certainly out of pace for his time in the midst of Freud’s huge overhaul of current thought, Lewis’s insight never truly claimed the stature it deserved.  When Carl Jung, among others, began to abandon Freud’s declinations, Lewis could have a chance for such a significant contribution to psychological studies, although he would have quickly denied his ability to do so.

Overlooking all the popular thought of those times, Lewis needs to be exonerated for his insight of the human soul.  We are social creations who require connection with others.  Deny this central drive and we are prone to drastic reactions.  Exclusion fulfills our worst nightmare of life.


The tide has turned! The troops have begun to be rallied preparing for battle.

Intervention will become increasingly more difficult the longer the differences are allowed to remain.  Unresolved conflict is breaking out and magnifying its perspective daily.  Gossip is the #1 choice of battle weapon.


“There is something fascinating about science.

One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture

out of such a trifling investment of facts.”

..                                                                        — Mark Twain



Proverbs 24:1-2
1 Do not envy the wicked,
do not desire their company;
2 for their hearts plot violence,
and their lips talk about making trouble.


“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

…                                                –Albert Einstein



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