The roots of conflict are often far deeper than the immediate situation indicates in families, as well as in church, synagogues, temples and other religious organization. This is both scary, and a reason for great hope.
It means that fixing the immediate situation won’t solve deeper problems. It also means that understanding and working on root issues can prevent decades of future conflicts that people haven’t even dreamed of yet.
Roots matter. When a tree has girdled, decaying or injured roots, it can topple in a storm or die many years earlier than its expected lifespan.
Even if one or two of the main roots are damaged or diseased it can affect the whole tree because a healthy tree requires a large system of roots under the ground that balances the extent of the upper branches.
Human communities are like this as well. When there has been sexual abuse in a family or a congregation, this can affect the behavior and interactions of people in future generations even when they have no idea what happened in the past.
A church that was founded as a result of a split off from another congregation over financial issues, may hold onto a fear of taking any monetary risks. This may continue through the generations and lead to stagnation, or future leaders may become reactive and begin to repeat the irresponsible spending patterns of the original church.
Problem roots do not have to determine the future of a tree or a human system. Roots can be cared for and nurtured back to health. Many tree root problems can be corrected if recognized and treated.
The same is true of human systems. A systems trained counselor is like a good tree doctor or arborist, we nurture the roots of family and congregational systems and help to guide the systems to optimal health.
A major aspect of this work involves naming patterns and raising self-awareness of each person’s role in the issues at hand.
This work takes a three-way partnership between
1) A trained counselor with a solid system model like the Congogram Process.
2) A small group of ordained and/or lay leaders in the congregation who are willing to do the hard work of self-reflection and inspire and encourage others to join in the process.
3) Other members of the congregation who pay attention to the work being done and get involved at some level in the self-reflection and in the commitment to changes that will lead to healing.
The Congogram Process provides tools and guidance to motivate and focus people in a system to do the deep work of examining the roots of conflict that may go back generations. Then it helps people to identify ways to strengthen the healthy roots and processes, to end (prune) destructive patterns, and to find creative ways to reroute (or re-root) patterns of behavior that no longer serve the congregation well.
With the proper guidance and the investment of time, money and participation in the process, a congregation can repair damaged root patterns, re-invigorate long term healthy patterns and create a beautiful and vibrant future.