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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to systems theory and leadership
Charles Cosgrove (professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary in Brookfield, Illinois) and Dennis Hatfield (former parish pastor and current Analyst/Consultant with Gallup) have produced a very well written, thorough, yet highly practical book that analyses the cause of conflict within a church while it gives pastors techniques for dealing with such...
Published on May 11, 2006 by Matthew Gunia

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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Systems Theory shifts "blame" to community
This book advances a theory of conflict management called "systems theory." At the core of this theory is the concept that individuals in the congregation are not responsible or accountable for their aberrant behavior. The fault lies in how the community interacts within itself, the unwritten rules it has established, and the secret games it plays. To improve a...
Published on October 24, 2006 by InHisHand


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to systems theory and leadership, May 11, 2006
By 
Matthew Gunia (Justice, Illinois) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church) (Paperback)
Charles Cosgrove (professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary in Brookfield, Illinois) and Dennis Hatfield (former parish pastor and current Analyst/Consultant with Gallup) have produced a very well written, thorough, yet highly practical book that analyses the cause of conflict within a church while it gives pastors techniques for dealing with such conflict.

The metaphor that runs throughout the book is the church as a family. Just as families have parents (those who wield authority) and children (those who look to parents for guidance and social cues) so churches also have members who fill each of these functions. Much of the analysis and advice Cosgrove and Hatfield give revolve around the systemic identification of who occupies the position of a congregational parent and who is a congregational child (as well as identifying your own role). Such systemic mapping is beneficial in both the short- and long-run.

Another major theme presented by Cosgrove and Hatfield is their push to create healthier systems through fostering effective, honest communication. Much communication theory is presented in these pages, including the relationship between type of communication and various emotional bonds, triangles, affirmation, and various models of influence/leadership.

There are many positive aspects of this book-many of which are previously mentioned. It is highly readable, highly practical, and thorough. The authors illustrate their theories with many examples and give helpful techniques. Also, their focus is not on immediate (urgent) conflicts, but encourages a proactive, long-term systemic involvement to improve the communication style and interrelationships within a congregation. While there are not many negatives, I do wish the authors would've addressed some related topics as I walk away with some questions. The authors thoroughly cover the parent/child relationship, but how does one become a child or a parent? How can one gain influence in a congregation? How can parents relate to one another and is this different from the way in which children relate to one another? What is to be done with "ghosts"? In the chapter on "games," how does one begin to get the congregation to stop playing a game (short of using the rules to your advantage, thus playing the game)?

In all, I highly recommend this book. It is a great introduction to systems theory, congregational dynamics, and even pastoral leadership styles. If you have interest in any of these, you will do well to make a study of this highly readable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Survival guide for ministers., March 31, 2013
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This review is from: Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church) (Paperback)
Understanding the dynamic in church conflict is crucial for ministers to stay effective in their ministry. I have been blessed by the book. It is practical and insightful. Pastors mostly have a good heart for the church, but not all have a good handle of the dynamic of the congregation, especially when it comes to conflict. This book gives a handle for ministers of the dynamics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, August 5, 2014
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This review is from: Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church) (Paperback)
My book club and I will love reading this book. Thanks for sending it in a timely manner.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Systems Theory shifts "blame" to community, October 24, 2006
This review is from: Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church) (Paperback)
This book advances a theory of conflict management called "systems theory." At the core of this theory is the concept that individuals in the congregation are not responsible or accountable for their aberrant behavior. The fault lies in how the community interacts within itself, the unwritten rules it has established, and the secret games it plays. To improve a conflicted congregation, one must fix the system and not confront any individual.

Sadly lacking are biblical references that either support the "systems theory" approach to conflict management or show "systems theory" in use by God. In fact, a systems approach to conflict resolution is at odds with revealed Scripture, since Scripture places individuals on the hotseat for repentance, resolving their personal disputes, and making restitution.

Assuming you value biblical methods for dealing with life, pick up a copy of Ken Sande's "The Peacemaker" instead.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Zero Stars, April 4, 2011
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This review is from: Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church) (Paperback)
This book was a waste of money. It was irrelevant straying far away from Biblical and concrete conflict resolution practices. Don't waste your money to read trivial church stories.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights, September 21, 2007
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This review is from: Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church) (Paperback)
This book is very boring and I feel that it is a stupid way to look at the church and to try to settle conflicts. I did not like it and I do not recommend anyone purchase it unless you necessaryly have to for a class like I did.
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Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church)
Church Conflict: The Hidden Systems Behind the Fights (Effective Church) by Charles H. Cosgrove (Paperback - March 1, 1994)
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