Mastering Conflict and Controversy

By Ed Dobson, Speed B. Leas, Marshall Shelley
Portland, Oregon : Multnomah (1992). 192 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Montoya
4.1 (Spring 1993) : 106-106

The authors have written Mastering Conflict and Controversy to deal with the realities of church life, in that conflict is always brewing within the ranks of God's people. Moses had his conflicts with the nation fresh out of Egypt, Paul had his "Corinthian experiences," and churches today fare no better.

The three writers are well qualified to address the issues of conflicts in churches. Marshall Shelley, author of Well-Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church, demonstrates great insight into church conflicts. This reviewer profited much from his work. Especially helpful was the chapter on "Surviving a Power Play."

Ed Dobson is no stranger to conflict, having spent much time as an associate of Jerry Falwell. Dobson has two outstanding chapters, "Restoring a Fallen Colleague" and "Restoring Battling Members." The former is the restoration account of Baptist preacher Truman Dollar, and reveals the agony of both pastor and church when a pastor falls into sin. It is a potent reminder to everyone to "take heed lest he fall."

Speed Leas has written two books on church conflicts and his experience throws light on this crucial topic. He has contributed Part III entitled "Understanding the Conflict." This section includes "Discerning the Causes" and "The Ten Most Predictable Times of Conflict," both of which are very beneficial.

If a minister is to have a long, successful, and happy pastorate, he must learn to overcome conflict in his congregation. Conflict is not all bad nor can it be avoided or altogether eliminated. Rather, as the book states, one must learn to master it.