Dysfunction Junction
Hope for Dysfunctional Faith Communities

Life in the Trenches of Faith-based Organizational Conflict Interventions

Church Fights: Can't We All Just Get Along?


Apparently not!

In John 17, Jesus prayed for himself, for his disciples, and for the fledgling Church that would arise. These words always strike me when I read that passage:  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17: 20-23)

However, as a very short poem says, "After 2000 years of Mass we've got as far as poison gas."

Not a very good track record.

I have worked with organizational and church conflict management for most of my adult life. I have lived through and been scarred by conflicts in churches from the time I was very young. My father was Chairman of the Board of Elders at a fundamentalist church in western Michigan from my childhood well into my adult years, so church intrigue was something I grew up with. Still, and like almost everyone else, experiencing church conflict from the inside was unexpected and confusing, particularly when I was viciously attacked by none other than my own pastor!

That led to much deeper study and research into the psychology of conflict, which eventually led into the study of emotional disease in the clergy. Guess what? It's much worse than anyone thought, and we have the research data to support it.

So, what is it that I do? I study organizational behavior and psychology, the psychology of conflict, conflict escalation processes, analyze and design interventions for specific church fights, and then do the intervention. I go into the trenches where they are and lead them out. I then lead conflict-wounded leaders and congregations through a clinical and biblical forgiveness and reconciliation process.

I write about it as well. My first book, The Road Home (look to your left) was published in 2013 and is available from booksellers all over the world. My second book, with co-author R. Glenn Ball, reveals the depth and the danger to churches by pastors with the mental disease of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The titles is Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About It and it is scheduled for publication in the spring or early summer of 2017.

And I do other stuff. Teach. Speak at conferences. Write papers. And I'm the Dean of Academics at a small private college.

Questions? Ask!

Darrell Puls

Why is forgiving so difficult? The answer is easier than you might expect: no one taught us because they did not know how to define forgiveness or how it worked.

That has all changed with studies at multiple universities into the inner workings and benefits of forgiving.

I document it all in a step-by-step process for large groups in The Road Home, but individuals and small groups can also use it.

It works! The book was awarded a literary achievement prize because it is being used to effectively treat returning combat veterans suffering from PTSD.

The book is endorsed by the Presidents of the 50,000 member American Association of Christian Counselors and the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. The foreword is by Everett Worthington, Jr., one of the world's leading clinical researchers.

The Road Home is available from booksellers worldwide.

After more than 40 years, I still find working with interpersonal, family, group, and organizational conflicts to be a fascinating and rewarding process. No matter how similar some of the conflicts might sound during first contact, each is as unique as the prople within it. 

Very few of us are able to deal successfully with strong interpersonal conflict for a simple reason: it's personal, which means that our emotions become part of the problem. When we cannot cope by separating the problem from our emotions, conflict has us, and not the other way around. It can seem as if we are caught in a whirpool that allows us to get close to safety, but then always drags us back and under.

Tha's where prople like me come in. Since is is not my conflict, I can see the things that you do not and help you find your way through the dark and threatening places to the calm of an early summer morning.

I have worked with all types of organizations (see the column at left) but my passion for conflicted faith communities is paramount. My role is not to tell anyone what to do, but to help people find their own solutions, as your solution will most likely work better than mine.

So, give me a call or drop me an email (darrell@conflicttopeace.com). You can't lose what you don't have!
Is Your Pastor a Predatory Narcissist?
Do you know a pastor who is secretive, angry, demanding entitled, arrogant, self-centered, and contradictory? Then you need to read the article linked below. Written and researched by Glenn Ball (Presbyterian Church in Canada) and Darrell Puls (Peacebridge Ministries), it will shake you to the core. It was first presented at the world conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors in Nashville, TN in late September 2015, and has now been downloaded more than 2000 times.

Let Us Prey: The Plague of Narcissist Pastors and What We Can Do About It!

The book has cleared copy-editing and is scheduled for publication shortly!

This is what the copy-editor wrote to us:  "Glenn and Darrell, Thanks for this groundbreaking work. It will be a privilege to have it in our Cascade imprint, as it shines a new light on a real problem for churches. I suspect many will recognize the phenomenon of narcissism, but will benefit from having it named and identified. In addition, you give sage and thorough advice on how to avoid hiring a narcissistic pastor."

Be looking for it!
NW Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference Slides