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10 Topics that can Escalate Anxiety in Congregations

In congregational life, some common topics activate anxiety. I call these hot buttons or triggers of anxiety. When these topics emerge, anxiety appears and can easily escalate. Although the list is not exhaustive, it highlights some common topics that escalate anxiety in congregations with whom I have worked:

Indicators of high anxiety in congregations

When the anxiety is lower, the congregation has a higher capacity to perceive what is trying to emerge and invite a new narrative. Granted, as anxiety rises, the functioning of people potentially becomes more reactive and conflict can easily follow, for conflict is a way of dealing with anxiety. The anxiety and conflict, when responded to appropriately by leaders, can be the catalyst for creative, adaptive growth and positive change.

7 Essential Components of Conversational Leadership

This process of conversational leadership is a way of growing, deepening and broadening the container, so the deeper, more important, courageous conversations can happen. The container has to do with its quality, paying attention to the group field; the clarity and interaction of intention and attentiveness, each of which help establish context; to monitor if it is too palpable? As the leader, influencing the quality of the container is our first job and very closely, it is inviting others to share that responsibility with us.

New book by W. Craig Gilliam – Where Wild Things Grow

Where Wild Things Grow invites us to grapple with the relationships between and among people and things; to live with complexity, mystery, uncertainty and ambiguity, to ask the beautiful questions and to find the invitation in each of these experiences

Ponderings on Extremes: The middle is the puzzle

The alternative to extremes is a middle path that moves in-between and walks “the narrow ridge”. An alternative middle path is able to hold “paradoxical curiosity.” This middle path is a soulful, grounded, humble way that takes courage and strength to hold. It is the in-between space where the in-between conversations occur.

Our artistry is our ministry

What is your art? What is your dream calling you to do that you have always wanted to do but have been afraid to take the first step? Where is life for you?

A Half-Fast Walk through Martin Buber’s Thinking

The minister, leader, counselor or facilitator does not take security for granted, nor does he or she use theory or theology to substitute for the encounter. The challenge is to be fully present in the “nothing else than process without getting lost in the abyss”

A Commitment to We

The path also requires letting go of hurt and wrongs inflicted in anxiety and conflict. Like Jacob and Esau, forgiveness and reconciliation are a journey. I will see in the eyes of those that I have been blaming heartaches that look and feel very much like my own. In their struggles, stumbles, failures and celebrations, I see my own.