Navigating Community Conflict
by Alan Kelsaw
When conflict erupts and disrupts your leadership, you can flounder. Or you can use the principles, strategies and resources outlined in this book to help you faithfully navigate these choppy waters to the glory of God and the health of your community.
Alan Kelshaw explains how to be the leader who leads through conflict strategically and confidently, be it in a church, school, mission or para-church ministry, while consistently maintaining leadership focus, community cohesion and organisational purpose.
The book takes a holistic approach covering:
- a framework of 8 biblical principles under the acronym HELM to shape and empower leadership responses to conflict
- practical strategy alternatives under the 8 HELM leadership principles
- over 25 resources to support these strategies
- conflict dynamics in Christian communities, including heart desires and the instinctive responses of leaders to conflict events
- an in-depth look at conflict involving a whole community
- an examination of 4 other prevalent types of conflict
- approaches for dealing with the media, lawyers and consultants.
Read this book if you want to be the leader who will remain steady at the helm, while navigating conflict graciously, confidently and biblically. It is your companion on the conflict journey and it is full of hope. The book is designed to protect leaders from burnout and being lost to Christian ministry. The information and principles offered will equip leaders to keep their community safe. Most importantly, the book seeks to promote the kind of leadership that will be a witness to the power of the gospel within and beyond the community.
About the author
Alan Kelshaw has practiced as a mediator, consultant and trainer, mostly in churches and the Christian not-for-profit sector, for over 20 years. He has also worked for many years as a lawyer. Alan holds degrees in law (LLB) from Sydney University and a Masters of Christian Studies degree (MCS) from Regent College, Vancouver. He has held various leadership roles in his local church, denomination and in several Christian ministries. Alan lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with his wife Carolyn. They have three adult children and seven grandchildren.
A priceless resource
Alan Kelshaw has provided a wise, thorough, and practical resource for all who have suffered, are suffering, or will suffer the pain and hurt of destructive conflict in communities of Christ’s people. Such conflict is inevitable. The commitments and skills of leadership during such times are not. They must be learned and practiced.
The biblical grounds, HELM framework, case studies, key perspectives, and reflection exercises, provided in Alan’s book and accompanying resources, are priceless for all who long to live in peace with others. I for one will be purchasing this book and recommending it to leaders, friends, and colleagues.
Dr. Rod Thompson
Minister, Springwood Presbyterian Churches, NSW
Former Principal, Laidlaw College, Auckland, New Zealand
A perfect blend of a biblical foundation matched with a whole ocean of tools
Navigating Community Conflict is the book leaders don’t know they need – but they do! In the cauldron of conflict, the knee-jerk reaction is almost always the wrong one, and risks deep personal hurt as well as the situation escalating rapidly out of control. Kelshaw has provided the perfect blend of a biblical foundation for how leaders can rightly think about conflict, matched with a whole ocean of tools to help them actually deal with it well – and also to know when to get outside help. This is a wonderful gift to Christian leaders everywhere and deserves to be used widely.
Bruce Burgess, National Director, PeaceWise, Australia
An easily read, hope-filled, engaging, ‘how to’ book
To endorse this book requires you to know about the author. Alan is a passionate follower of Jesus and walks the talk of being a peacemaker. I have been privileged to journey alongside Alan as co-mediator, conflict coach and co-trainer of peacemaking principles. To be a peacemaker requires courage as God opens our eyes to areas where we are in need of repentance and that courage is evident in Alan’s life.
From this place of authenticity, Alan provides an easily read, hope-filled, engaging, ‘how to’ book on navigating the rough and rocky road of conflict in Christian communities. If ‘conflict is to be lived in the context of reconciliation’, this book helps leaders navigate conflict to God’s honour. It outlines biblical peacemaking principles for leading conflict and then takes them one step further by providing a practical framework with transformative steps for leaders to implement when conflict arises. So, whether you are the leader of a Christian community, or one of the members, this book provides invaluable assistance in the face of conflict.
Wendy Konemann, Clinical Counsellor
Trauma Therapist, Conflict Coach, Mediator, Public Speaker
Trainer, PeaceWise, Australia
Fresh and enormously helpful – a lifeline
There is no shortage of books on the subject of conflict resolution. So it was with surprise and appreciation that I found Alan Kelshaw’s contribution to be both fresh and and enormously helpful. That there is a need for biblical and wise practical advice in this area should be self-evident. Everywhere we look we continue to see conflict in Christian communities. In fact we have long come to understand that conflict is a natural part of the process of being in community. However, to continue allowing conflict to become destructive of community should not be something we are happy to live with.
As a practitioner of community leadership, I need advice which is accessible and practical. Alan’s work provides both a framework for understanding conflict dynamics and yet practical and manageable steps so that a reader can be far more confident that they can assess, and then make an effective contribution, to such situations. For those of us who lack confidence in this important area this work is something of a lifeline.
Rev. Phil Waugh, Senior Pastor, Springwood Baptist Church, NSW
A practical step-by-step approach with concrete strategies and resources
In the rough seas of community conflict we need an experienced companion and a practical guide to a safe harbour. Alan Kelshaw’s Navigating Community Conflict provides both and points us to our Lord, our ultimate Companion and Guide, whose Word is the lens through which we are invited to reframe conflict, ourselves, others and a way forward. Leaders will find encouragement to stay steady at the helm and see ‘conflict as an opportunity for personal and community transformation, Godly growth and organisational well-being.’ Kelshaw’s practical step-by-step approach to various types of conflict, and his concrete strategies and resources offer us peace in the midst of the storm of conflict
Ellen Ford, Dispute Resolution Consultant
A must-have book
Death and taxes are not the only certainties in life. Conflict ought to be added to that short list. Those leading communities or organisations need to be well prepared to manage conflict well if they are to be fruitful in their work. Alan Kelshaw’s wisdom and background as a lawyer, and engagement with the PeaceWise movement in Australia, has enabled him to write this must have book for Christian leaders. Leaders who create a culture where conflict is dealt with in a way that enriches the community which they lead are giving that community an extraordinary gift. Every Christian leader, or future leader, needs to read this book.
Bill Rusin, Chair, Morling College Board, Sydney
Former Principal, Covenant Christian School, Belrose
Former Deputy Chair, Christian Education National, Sydney.
Professional and pragmatic
We all know that conflict is normal, and inevitable, in almost every area of life. Time and time again I have, sadly, seen the enormous personal cost of poorly handled conflict. So, it is amazing that so many churches fail to take even elementary steps to equip their leaders with tools and skills to help them when the inevitable arises.
Navigating Community Conflict addresses that particular need by giving leaders a solid basis for understanding the various aspects of conflict and, at the same time, the book works like a ‘workshop manual’ for those in the midst of a conflict. You can skip straight to the part that is most needed at the time.
Alan’s experience uniquely equips him to speak into these various realms. He brings together a professionalism in the materials and concepts presented, and also provides pragmatism in the way it can be effectively implemented. Holding these two aspects together is no simple feat. However, the book does both admirably! This book should be among the resources for any Christian community that seeks to honour God’s name even in the midst of conflict.
Rev Pete Davies, Regional Minister, Baptist Association of NSW & ACT
Formerly, Director Church Health, Baptist Association of NSW & ACT
Conflict Trainer, PeaceWise, Australia
A resource to equip, challenge and encourage
When the storms of conflict threaten your organisation, remain steady at the helm with Alan Kelshaw’s book, Navigating Community Conflict. Alan provides a biblical framework for understanding community conflict and guiding leaders based on Christian truths. Jesus’ followers need to do more than just resolve conflict – they are called to reconcile through confession and forgiveness. This book equips you to address both the material and relational issues that arise in group conflicts. You will be resourced, challenged, and encouraged to live out your Christian faith as you lead your organisation through conflict.
Dr. Ted Kober, Senior Ambassador, Ambassadors of Reconciliation,
Billings, Montana, USA
A comprehensive guide
This excellent book provides a comprehensive guide to navigating community conflict. Alan Kelshaw draws out the submerged threats within ourselves and in communities that can derail the best of intentions. He focuses wisely on bringing a reconciling spirit and ‘understanding the weather’. He uses practical examples to powerful effect which help draw the reader into addressing the challenges they face with confidence. The HELM framework will provide a valuable tool for leaders seeking to keep their perspective when conflict looms or breaks out.
Dr Peter Shaw. Chair of Praesta Partners: an international coaching organisation
Visiting Professor of Leadership Development at Higher
Education Establishments in the UK, Canada and Australia
Author of 30 books on aspects of leadership
A principled and practical resource
Navigating Community Conflict is a principled and practical resource addressing a critical aspect of Christian leadership. It is informed by thoughtful reflection on Scripture, judicious engagement with the relevant literature on leadership and conflict resolution, and years of personal and professional experience. I warmly recommend it and pray that it will do great good within the communities that are served by those who read it
Rev Dr David Starling, Chief Academic officer, Morling College, Sydney
Insightful and especially helpful
I found reading Navigating Community Conflict really insightful. It will be a great blessing to the wider family of God. I really appreciated the perspective of conflicts not in and of themselves being bad things and inevitable to a degree. It is how you prepare for, and then respond to, conflict that should bring glory to God. While I haven’t been in a governance role during a community wide conflict, I couldn’t help reflect on my current church board member role and found the book especially helpful right now.
Jonathan Shead, Elder Board member and Treasurer, Springwood Baptist Church, NSW
An excellent and unique guidebook
One of the inevitable aspects of leadership in a Christian community is the turmoil of conflict. Whether it be a church, Christian organisation, Christian mission or school, conflict will happen! How does one lead well through conflict?
Alan Kelshaw has provided an excellent guidebook and resources for leaders who are facing, and will face, conflict. There are many publications and online directions about conflict, yet this book is unique. Alan’s guide is comprehensive and practical, the online resources are detailed, and one can quickly find what is relevant for each type of conflict. Conflict is often complex, so this book recognises that and provides a variety of suggestions to deal with each situation.
I have observed Alan at work in addressing conflict, and he is a good example of what he encourages us to be: steady, calm, thoughtful, attentive to biblical perspectives, a good listener, godly, patient yet firm in his principles.
I particularly like the way the book urges leaders of Christian communities, when dealing with conflict, to first look to God and the Bible, take time for honest self-examination and love people before taking action to address the conflict. When I read the book, I was in the middle of conflict in a Christian community, and Alan’s directions and resources gave me wisdom and confidence to stay steady and know what steps to take. For me, the chapter that was a beacon of light for the future is the last one, ‘A Better Way’, which presents a positive and motivating vision of a healthy Christian community where leaders are proactively prepared to navigate conflict to the glory of God.
Rev Stephen Cooper
Senior Pastor, various Baptist Churches in Australia
Former senior staff leader, Campus Crusade for Christ