Collaborative Group Interventions
Groups That Have Moved Apart Rethink
As a result of demographic changes, a local church had moved
to the suburbs and separated physically from its long-time
sister church. The two, once very similar, grew very differently
over time. However, financial difficulties now dictate that
the downtown church must shift its members to its suburban
sister church, since it is no longer viable in its current
location. There are now many fears, questions, significant
anger, and rifts between the members of the two communities.
The two churches' boards and clergy agree to meet at a forum
to discuss how dislocation is impacting the two institutions.
They invite board members, clergy, laity, and community stakeholders
to the forum.
A review of the two churches' significant milestones sets
the stage for discussing each congregation's hopes for the
future. Each group talks about what it would have liked to
have done differently up to this point, giving the groups
an opportunity to review painful situations and gain a greater
understanding of each other's concerns.
Participants realize there are many opportunities the new
union will offer both congregations. There is a renewal of
friendships, an awakening of new relationships, and a rediscovery
of skills. The rich dialogue combines to allow for continuing
the dialogue - but differently.
Laughter as well as expressions of angst and confusion are
important mileposts on the journey when groups need to move
with greater understanding to fulfill needs of different constituencies.