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David R. Bess
5 Stars Out Of 5
September 5, 2003
David R. Bess
Susek in this volume provides a simply excellent treatment of the vicious, destructive nature of church conflict. In the first part of his work he gives the account of an actual church, describing how the sparks of conflict were scattered, the flames were fanned, and the fierce firestorm was unleashed. While Susek's example is extreme for many churches struggling with lesser issues, the escalation of conflict is basically the same regardless of the scale.In the second part of his book Susek addresses the various causes of a church firestorm. The third portion offers practical instruction on getting a firestorm under control. The fourth and final section gives suggestions on binding the wounds of the various parties who have been burned by the conflict.I recommend this title to all pastors. For most of us, it is not a matter of IF we encounter a firestorm in our ministry, but WHEN we will experience one. I also see this book as being very helpful for church leaders who are dealing with conflict situations, regardless of their severity. Susek's work here is well-worth the price, offering healing and hopes for the conflict-scorched congregation.
Several months ago a friend recommended a book that he thought was the best explanation of why churches fight so often and why pastors are in such a dangerous position. The book is Firestorm: Preventing and Overcoming Church Conflicts by Ron Susek, published by Baker Books. I have read it and can recommend it too. Whether your church is in conflict now or not, it will be sooner or later. That's not cynicism, that's reality! When people, even God's people, work together, conflict will happen. But it doesn't have to be destructive. It can be channeled, even mastered. You don't have to be hurt by it. Some chapter titles are: "Rebuilding on Burnt Timbers," "The Pastor's Four Pillars of Strength," "Identifying Common Causes," and "Bold Spiritual Leadership: Actions the Pastor Can Take."
A firestorm can ruin a church. This is an excellent treatise on conflict in a church. You will think that the author has been sitting in the front seat of your church when you read his book. He outlines the 6 phases of a firestorm and gives you the characteristics of each. He also gives you steps to take to reverse the damage at each step (where it's possible - he's very realistic in his assessments). He shows how each stage is furthered by the breakdown of morality and how the people start to think that the end will justify the means. When we become married to our position, many Godly qualities go out the window. This book is very spiritual and practical. Highly recommended reading for church leaders before conflict or in the early stages.