Mastery or Misery: Dealing Effectively with Conflict in Congregations

About the Course

Conflict is a natural phenomenon when people come together.  Conflict can divide a congregation; it can be hurtful to individuals and stifle congregational operations if left unresolved.  Yet, there are ways to utilize conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow as in community. Resolved conflict provides a path toward a shared mission and purpose. 

Why not address the specific nature of the conflict?  Why not learn and utilize specific skills to move beyond the conflict and towards conciliation?  All of this to achieve a more thriving and productive congregation and enriched, healthier relationships. Our individual relationship with conflict can determine how we react to conflict and how we lead others through conflict. 

This class involves three different phases over a six month period.  The first phase is in a classroom setting. The second phase is a monthly peer group facilitated call and the third phase is another classroom setting.  All of this to learn, practice and incorporate new skills into our daily lives. 

Audience:  Clergy of all traditions

Why Take the Class

Conflict can deter productivity and derail the mission of the congregation.  Finding ways, developing skills and being engaged with a peer group can provide the means to a healthier congregation.  This class is education, skill building and experiential. You will be supported over the six month class by trained and experienced conflict transformational professionals. 

Course Objectives

  • The course is designed to understand how leading self is an important element to leading others that improves the opportunity for healthier congregations and more productive relationships.
  • We will learn about our own relationship with conflict and how this contributes to conflict in the congregation.
  • We will learn how to recognize the power involved in conflict and how it is counter-productive.
  • We will learn how to work with others in the congregation using more courage and compassion.
  • Peer groups will be established following the first class session to create continuity and be a resource for situations as we incorporate new skills into our daily practice.

Class Schedule

Phase 1: Thursday, October 24, 9:00AM-5:00PM and Friday, October 25, 9:00AM-4:00PM

Phase 2:  Monthly peer group video calls of 4-5 peers and a facilitator.

Phase 3:  Thursday, April 23, 2020, 9:00AM-5:00PM

Location:  TBA

Tuition:  $450

CEUs: Available upon request. Please email Diane McClanahan:

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Carla Cain

Carla is a pastor and trained End-of-Life Doula. Her current work is consulting with congregations on strategic planning, conflict transformation, church leadership and a focus on working with the dying. Carla discerned her call to ministry after spending 30 years in the corporate world where she was involved in business development, human resources and cultural transformation work. Carla has an expertise and passion for personal mastery that leads to living well and dying well.


Diane McClanahan, M.Div., B.S.N.

Diane McClanahan, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, she has served congregations in Connecticut and Iowa. Diane is a spiritual director, clergy coach, church consultant and conflict mediator. Her interest is in providing spiritual and educational programs and consultation to assist spiritual leaders and their congregations to meet the needs of their communities.

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