We have a direct dealing policy at Sunshine Cathedral (and in most MCCs; in fact, at the denominational level MCC insists upon and tries to model direct dealing).
Public meetings are not the place to initially air grievances. When we have conflict or a misunderstanding with someone in church leadership, the FIRST step is to speak with that person directly. If that proves to be unsatisfactory, then the SECOND step is to speak with that person and a mediator. If that doesn’t work, then speaking to someone’s supervisor might be in order.
It is always appropriate to ask questions before making accusations, and one should always deal directly with a person rather than resorting to triangulation tactics (going around a person or behind the person, trying to vilify the person to others or build a coalition against the person before a direct discussion with the person has even taken place). Triangulation is considered antagonistic behavior and is unworthy of any principled organization, and especially any organization founded on a commitment to spiritual growth and vitality.
If there are questions about fiduciary concerns, the FIRST step is to ask questions of the Executive Director. That should almost always settle the matter as the E.D. is the person with the most current and complete information about all financial matters. However, if you feel that the E.D. has not responded to you sufficiently, you should attend a Financial Health Team meeting (first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 pm…everyone is always welcome). At that meeting every line item is addressed and every question that is raised is answered. In the unlikely event that the first two steps didn’t answer your questions satisfactorily, you can then ask to be added to the agenda for a Board of Director’s meeting. Once on the agenda, you can make a statement to the board which will listen to you and will decide if further action is warranted.
Sunshine Cathedral’s Direct Dealing Policy
The Sunshine Cathedral is a growing organization and conflict will occur as a result. Conflict is a fact of life in human society, including the church. Conflict that hones the edge of an organization and keeps it mindful of and true to its purposes is healthy.
Conflict can be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, creative or destructive. All leaders are expected to handle conflict in a healthy, loving, and creative way and expect the same from the staff, membership and friends of the church.
Healthy conflict is where members and friends of the church deal with their issues up front. They talk directly to those with whom they are in disagreement. They are to bring substantive evidence with their particular viewpoint and have demands that are reasonable. They present their viewpoints as supportive of the mission of the church and are able to clearly show this in their presentation. They clearly have a deep love for the church, love and respect for the leadership of the church and are honorable in sharing their viewpoint. They do not make personal attacks on others with whom they disagree. Rather, they are concerned that they have correct information. They view themselves as working with the church leadership to find a peaceful, loving solution to the issue at hand for the good of all people concerned. Once a decision is reached on an issue, whether they were in agreement or not, they support the witness of the body and the working of Spirit in leading that appropriate group to the decision reached. They continue to be constructive and positive in their work for the common good of the church as witnessed by the body.
How is Healthy Conflict Resolved?
It is the policy of the Sunshine Cathedral, its Executive Staff and Cathedral Chapter, to directly deal with people regarding issues of the church and to teach all members, staff, and friends in proper methods of direct dealing. We will not deal with proposals or concerns where the proponents of such are not willing to identify, by name, the individuals involved. Those individuals named, as well as the person said to represent them, must be present in person or in writing before the concern or proposal will be considered. If the individuals are not willing to represent themselves or be identified, the administrative body will not consider nor address the issue.
Following Scriptural guidelines, persons who have a grievance or concern will be requested to take their concern directly to the person(s) or ministry group involved in the matter. If that person or group is unable to resolve the issue, then the parties involved may request that someone serve as a facilitator to help the people involved resolve their conflict. This meeting will require all parties present. If the conflict still cannot be resolved, the parties may request that the Executive Staff or an appointed mediator assist in seeking a resolution to the conflict.
How is Unhealthy Conflict Resolved?
Unhealthy conflict is where a member, staff or friend, on the basis of non-substantive evidence, goes out of their way to make insatiable demands, usually attacking the person or performance of others. These attacks are selfish in nature, tearing down rather than building up, and are frequently directed against those in a leadership position. Persons who enter into an unhealthy conflict are best known as antagonists.
The presence of antagonists and situations in which unhealthy conflict occurs are usually of a small number in any congregation. However, such unhealthy conflict has the potential to disrupt, even to destroy the mission and ministry of Christ through the people of God, as has been the experience of many of the churches in MCC. Antagonism is the primary reason why churches are unable to have steady, enduring growth and one of the major reasons for the loss of dynamic, enthusiastic leaders and pastors. Antagonism left unchecked in the church creates a negative, fearful, and unhappy environment. Antagonistic people drain the leadership of their time and energy and do not make being involved in the church a joyous and blessed experience.
It is the policy of the Sunshine Cathedral to be aware of antagonism in the church and to deal with antagonists in the church as soon as the Executive Staff is made aware of them. Antagonistic behavior in the church will be deemed unbecoming conduct for any member, staff or friend of the Sunshine Cathedral. Any such member, staff or friend, will be lovingly confronted with clarity as to how their behavior is unhealthy and causing disruption in the congregation and request that a change in their behavior occur. Unwillingness to change their behavior may be cause to ask an antagonist to find another church home.
Is It More Important To Be Right or To Be One in Purpose?
That’s usually at the heart of the problem: When we believe we are right, and we are willing to stand for our opinion no matter what, then unity is unlikely. Cooperation, which is the working model of a group in harmony with one another, means that on occasion we will all be ‘co-opted’, that is, we will all have to at some time ‘give in’ and surrender our highly-valued opinion for the sake of unity. This principle is at the heart of ‘being a team’; we can’t all go our separate directions and arrive together at our goal.