LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Lin Schussler-Williams remembers hearing a story about a congregation -- a "nice church," she was told -- that had a history of going out and starting new congregations.
"About every 30 years, that church did what their denomination called 'seeding' a new church," said Schussler-Williams, a Louisville-based consultant who helps congregations locked in disputes. "It wasn't in fact seeding a new church. It was about every 30 years, the conflict got so bad, they split."
It's pretty simple: church is not the place most people go wanting to fight.
But it's also true that religious congregations aren't immune from conflict. Disputes break out over everything from important doctrinal matters to whether the painting that's been hanging in the hallway for the past 30 years can ever be taken down. Pastors working in their first jobs say that conflicts in the congregation are one of...