Healthy Congregations

The Healthy Congregations workshop uses the insights of family systems theory to help church leaders and all members become more effective stewards of their congregation's health. The workshop was developed by Dr. Peter Steinke and is based on the work of Dr. Edwin Friedman, author of Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue.

Friedman noted that in many congregations today negative, reactive forces are allowed to set the agenda for the church. What can be done to prevent anxiety from becoming a toxic force in your congregation? The Healthy Congregations worship is designed to equip leaders to respond to the presence or potential threat of anxiety in a congregational system in ways that prevent destructive conflict and help the church stay focused on its unique mission and purpose.

This workshop will help you...
  • Learn how you as a leader can influence the health of your congregation -- how to detect and avoid unhealthy patterns of living together in community.
  • Learn how to keep anxiety from becoming infectious
  • Gain confidence in responding to challenges and opportunities.
  • Learn how to put limits on invasive behavior, manage reactivity, and overcome sabotage.
  • Discover how leaders can function as the congregation's immune system.
  • Learn to focus on strengths, resources, options and the future.
Who Will Benefit?

The workshop is designed for:

  • Pastors and other church staff, lay leaders, all congregation members
  • Anyone interested in enhancing their capacity to manage self in a non-anxious and responsible way, whether in the church, the home, the workplace or the community.
Time and Location of the Workshop

Friday, Oct. 28 -- 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 29 -- 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sugar Creek United Methodist Church, 1022 New City Road, Chatham, IL  62629

Sponsored by the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Cabinet and Conflict Transformation Team

Led by Staff of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center

Workshop Leader

Richard Blackburn is Executive Director of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC) in Lombard, Ill. Richard is a trainer and mediator, with broad experience in serving as a consultant to conflicted churches. He has participated in Dr. Edwin Friedman's Postgraduate Clergy Seminar in Family Emotional Process and the Postgraduate Proram in Family Systems Theory and Its Applications at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C.


Workshop Schedule

Friday, Oct. 28

6:30 to 7 p.m. -- Workshop and Registration

7 to 9:30 p.m. -- What is Systems Thinking?/Video Case Study: The Anxious Congregation/The Responsible Congregation

Saturday, Oct. 29

9 to 10:30 a.m. -- Healthy Congregations Respond to Anxiety/Healthy Congregations Invite Differentiation of Self

10:30 to 10:45 a.m. -- Break

10:45 a.m. to noon -- Healthy Congregations Focus on Strength/Healthy Congregations Manage Conflict

Noon to 1 p.m. -- Lunch (served on-site)

1 to 2:30 p.m. -- In Healthy Congregations, Leaders Challenge People/In Healthy Congregations, Leaders Focus on Mission

2:30 to 2:45 p.m. -- Break

2:45 to 4:30 p.m. -- In Healthy Congregations, Leaders Promote Health Through Their Presence and Functioning/Planning for a Healthier Congregation


The registration fee is $30 per person (includes manual and lunch), or $40 for a couple (sharing one manual, two lunches). The pre-registration deadline is Oct. 15, after which the registration fee is $35 per person or $50 per couple.

Registration information

Please complete the following information. If registering as a couple, please include both first names in the First Name field.

*First Name
*Last Name
*Address 1
*Registration options

Please register and indicate whether registration is for a single registrant or a couple.

Single Registration (one manual, one lunch) ($35)
Couples Registration (one manual shared, two lunches) ($50)

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