Project Documents

Date of Award

1986

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Garth D. Thompson

Second Advisor

Benjamin D. Schoun

Third Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Abstract

Problem. While a great deal of attention has been given in conflict literature to the role of intra-church structures and the political/managerial processes and strategies for conflict intervention and/or management, this project is more concerned with relational matters. That is, the problem addressed in this project is the teaching of certain skills that would help church members preserve their interpersonal relationships even though engaged in conflict. The thesis is that an enlightened understanding of conflict and the development of certain communication skills can significantly affect how the parishioner perceives conflict and thus how he/she will behave in conflictive situations thereby reducing the strained interpersonal relationships and alienation that often follows in the wake of conflict.

Method. A conflict skills curriculum was developed for the Ardmore Seventh-day Adventist church. Participants in the project were volunteers from the congregation who met weekly from February 5 to March 27, 1986, for a total of eight sessions. The participants were tested prior to the seminar and again at its conclusion. The same instrument was also administered to a control group for the purpose of comparison (nonequivalent control group design with pretest and posttest). The question addressed by the instrument was, "Will a seminar on conflict change the participant's attitude and feelings about conflict?"

Results. A comparison of the results of the treatment group and the control group indicate a significant change in the attitude of the treatment group toward conflict. This change indicates a higher level of tolerance for conflict and a feeling on the part of the participants that they can deal more effectively with conflict. It can be assumed that this change resulted from exposure to the conflict skills curriculum.

Conclusions. Indications are that a lay training program in conflict skills development may be effective in raising the levels of tolerance for conflict and develop certain interpersonal communication skills that may result in reducing the negative effects of conflict as it relates to interpersonal relationships.

Subject Area

Conflict management, Church management

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