Keys to Effective Conflict Resolution (Pt.2)

Mark McCleary

Conflict Resolution Praxis: BACK to the Beginning

I confess that I might have been too academically rooted in my first submission on the interdisciplinary fields of Conflict and Conflict resolution. Forgive me. In this submission, I will try a simpler approach that attempts to set the table for your re-introduction to the praxis of these correlated disciplines. Review my last submission because it provides valid perspectives for the dimensions of social conflict hints at diverse paradigmatic approaches for resolving it.

Christian churches comprise people who express interrelationship problems. In order for churches to become sensitive to these conflict situations and attempt to resolve them constructively, I developed a manual (CCRPTM), grounded in Biblical and social scientific discourses. CCRPTM centers on conflict, conflict resolution, and conflict resolution training education and skill development. The idea for this manual began in my mind during my parish responsibilities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania around 1998. Its academic and theoretical grounding began to unfold when I enrolled in Nova Southeastern University’s Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program (2004) and graduating with a Ph. D. (2013). CCRPTM was developed from an academic study for a dissertation degree that comprises a rational process of designed and coherent steps or strategy or the distillation of a method, system, or process that expresses intellectual validity.

CCRPTM is rooted in four theories that encourage the values of respect, recognition and empowerment of self and others in order to facilitate re-establishing social harmony. Thus, CCRPTM and any valid conflict resolution effort is driven by hope that its praxis will help its/their adherents pragmatically reestablish intrachurch harmony. CCRPTM describes human interactions and exchanges that often produce social conflict; and in addition comprises a matrix of ideas that outline a particular way or series of steps that are intended to guide its adherents in conflict resolution theory and practice.

I developed CCRPTM in manual form because the connotation of manual indicates doing something by hand and not by machinery or electronic means. The idea of a manual involves a formula of setting forth a method or system for completing a task. Joseph Chilberg (1995) refers to this as process knowledge that comprises and explains skills for conducting analysis or completing a task. Thus, CCRPTM describes the nature of conflict and sets forth procedures for solving it.

The essence of manual procedures is their connectedness. Poole, DeSanctis, Kirsch, and Jackson (1995) describe a manual as a “set of rules about how to use various system features” (p.  304). This is to say that manual content or procedures are a system of knowledge that reflects connectedness or a set of multiple rules connected as a functional gestalt. Jeff Bracken describes a manual as “linked activities with the purpose of producing a product or service” (Bracken, 2005, p. 67). Roger Schwarz (2002) describes a manual as a “design to help improve effectiveness” (p. 216). These descriptions highlight CCRPTM’s connected and bounded content that is designed especially for Christian congregational settings wherein there is a willingness to accept a helping hand in the congregant’s efforts to resolve social conflicts.

As creatures of habit, humans often seek to reduce uncertainty about how to behave (Folger, Poole, & Stutman, 2005, p. 277) by developing tools that help them move toward assurance. This is the purpose and intent of CCRPTM, a conflict analysis and resolution tool, that provides help to Christian church participants if they follow its instructions for re-building intra-church social harmony.

In closing, a manual’s existence does not guarantee its use. One reason that might explain why, is that the existing manual is unknown to those who might use it if they knew of its availability. Another, is that where a manual is available, there is also a lack of training to enable its potential users in implementing it information. Thus the notion that manual use will increase is related to the ideas of availability and credibility. The function of human thinking is to guide action (Stokes, 2003, 126-129). The functional corollaries of availability, credibility, and use are intimately connected to the matter of outcome and outcome is a matter of determination. For Ury, Brett, and Goldberg (1988), this is a matter of party motivation and skill. Thus, CCRPTM was developed and grounded with these parameters in mind includes a training module for educating concerning conflict and conflict resolution, as well as a praxis for implementing a win-win strategy.

Stay tuned and reflective to these submissions and you will learn about the dynamics and dimensions of social conflict, as well as a best practices approach for how to attempt to resolve it.



Bracken, J. (2005). “Eight Ps of effective facilitation planning and preparation,” In Sandy Schuman (ed.). The facilitation handbook of group facilitation: Best practices from the leading organization in facilitation, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Chilberg, J. (1995). “The interaction method: A case study in using group facilitation policies and rules,” In Lawrence R. Fret (ed.). Innovations in Group Facilitation: Applications in Natural Settings, Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.

Folger, J., Poole, M., and Stutman, R. (2005). Working through conflict: Strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Poole, M., DeSanctis, G., Kirsch, L., and Jackson, M. (995). “Group decision support systems as facilitation of quality team efforts.” In Lawrence R. Fret (ed.). Innovations in group facilitation: applications in natural settings. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.

Schwarz, R. (2002). The skilled facilitator: A comprehensive resource for consultants,  facilitators, managers, trainer, and coaches. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey Bass.

Stokes, P. (2003). Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers. New York, NY: Enchanted Lions Books.

Ury, W., Brett, J., and Goldberg, S. (1988). Getting disputes resolved. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass.

Mark McCleary


Dr. Mark A. McCleary holds both Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and brings with them a passion for conflict management, church renewal and social justice. Having been born in Baltimore, he recently returned to his hometown to pastor the Liberty SDA Church. He is the author of several books including The Gospel Presentation. You can contact him via Facebook or email.

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