Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: Ministering to Problem People in Your Church by Marshall Shelley

If you put enough different personalities in a room together, you can guarantee there will be a conflict, and churches are no different.  Conflicts in churches can be particularly stressful because so many people invest so strongly in the church and ministers and elders have so little training in communication and leadership.  Ministering to Problem People in Your Church by Marshall Shelley is a practical guide to dealing with these conflicts.

Shelley explores several different environments where "dragons", or problem people, can crop up.  While I don't particularly care for his characterization of these people as problem people, I do feel like his approaches are useful and valid.  While Shelley mostly addresses pastors, his suggestions focus more on what we, the reader, can do to mitigate these situations and less on trying to change the other person.  Often it is the pastor's own false assumptions, lack of communication and pride that create the environment for this kind of behavior to flourish.  By focusing on our own issues, we can not only reduce the impact of these "dragons" but we can also prevent them from arising in the future.

The one problem I have with the author's approach is his lack of discussion on spiritual warfare and the impact of Satan on destroying ministries.  From personal experience, I know that Satan plays a huge role in these kinds of conflicts and by adding discussion on how to minimize Satan's effects in these conflicts, this would feel more like a complete book.  Suggestions such as praying before you confront someone or starting meetings with prayers to cover us and our interactions seem to be missing from this book, but, at least in my experience, play a huge part in resolving these situations.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone in ministry, whether in an official, paid position or in a lay position.  By applying some of the advice found in this book, much of the time and energy wasted on interpersonal conflicts could be better spent in building God's kingdom.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in return for my honest review.

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