Here is the fourth set of reading recommendations we are compiling for any clergy person, lay person, or student interested in Conflict Transformation! Feel free to suggest books you have found useful in the comments!
Arthur Paul Boers is a Mennonite minister in Ontario, Canada who addresses the harmful and difficult behaviors that sometimes surface in the Church by empowering leaders to meet conflict with careful approaches. Boers comes to conflict embracing Family Systems Theory. If you read Friedman’s From Generation to Generation that we earlier recommended, this would help you understand Boers’ context. Boers coaches pastors and leaders to have self-awareness and responsible relationships before they can step into providing support for others in conflict. Boers leads pastors to move beyond labels to unite the whole body of believers.
What are boundaries and why do we need them? These are the two basic questions that Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend address in their best-selling primer on boundaries. Boundaries define who we are/who we are not and what we are responsible for/what we are not responsible for. Boundaries are essential for healthy functioning individually and communally because they articulate essential limits. Many situations of unresolved conflict involve unhealthy boundaries or a complete lack of boundaries, which result in chaos. The authors encourage Christians to set healthy boundaries and describe what healthy boundaries in all areas of life–physical, emotional, familial, spiritual–look like. While this book is written from a Christian perspective, people from many walks of life can benefit from learning about healthy boundaries.
Giving and forgiving are two practices at the heart of the Christian faith. Volf orients these two essential Christian practices within the reality of the Triune God. The Triune God is the first Giver; the Triune God is the first Forgiver. God enables and empowers us to give; God enables and empowers us to forgive. Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, thus Free of Charge interweaves sound, orthodox Protestant theology derived from the Apostle Paul’s vision of God’s grace with Martin Luther’s interpretation of Paul’s vision to create a beautiful picture of the freedom and mercy offered to us by life in Christ. Chosen as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lenten study book of 2006, Free of Charge can be read devotionally as well as intellectually.
Three of the preeminent contemporary scholars of United Methodist history–one long a member of the North Carolina Conference and now back in Durham and at Duke–have distilled over two centuries of Methodism in American into this highly readable, compact narration. The authors have included a wide range of traditions, ethnic groups, and cultural trends that influenced Methodism as it translated early Wesleyan Methodism into an American context. While primary source documents are not included in this volume for reasons of length, there is a companion volume with all of the original sources reproduced. The Compact History cross-references the primary source documents in the companion volume so that readers can delve as deeply as they like into Methodist history.