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Last week I mused here on the Network about whether a relational "fire" warning detector could be created for churches. You can read that post here. Fire alarms in homes detect indicators of a pending problem and sound a warning (if we've supplied batteries). I wonder, "Could we develop something equivalent for churches? What would such a detector sniff for?"

In my last post, I used the analogy of specialized pastors like myself, a Specialized Transitional Minister (STM), who often come in after a fire has happened and sift through the ashes to help begin restoration and build in prevention.

This blog post is the first in an intended series describing some of the things which have been discovered "in the ashes." Each of these factors had some way of contributing to the combustion problem that occurred. I will list all I've accumulated so far, but may add more as I learn more. Each will, in time, become a link to a full explanation on a separate page as I create it. I'm aiming to complete one a month.

  • Having miss-wired expectations
  • Friction between combustibles
  • Emotional "heat" or "static" dynamics inflamed
  • Blame-shifting and scapegoating
  • A hiring/firing mentality instead of calling
  • Chaplains (reassurance) preferred over prophets (challenge)
  • Fumes of democracy and politics
  • Missed, and mixed, social signals
  • Passing a lit firecracker 
  • Tie-down constraints
  • Power possession and authority issues: not letting go of it and letting next gen learn to lead.
  • ?

I am seeking feedback and input:

In a general way, so without giving specifics of persons, locations, times and such, what are some behaviors or conditions you have seen which you believe contributed to a fire? If you are not sure how to say it, email me and let me know privately, and I will work it into a category I already have or make a new one if it seems fitting.

As my list fills out and the explanation pages are added, I'd love to hear which resonate as most valid to you, the reader.




 I've been helped by writers like Edwin Friedman and Peter Steinke to properly appreciate just how much the congregation is an emotional system. One factor that they mention is that a highly anxious system breeds secrecy-- secret unofficial meetings about an issue may initially have good intentions behind them but  almost always lead to  negative reactions. If it needs to be discussed it needs to be discussed above board and this transparency has to be pushed as a congregational value.

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