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Managing Conflict Creatively: A Guide for Missionaries and Christian Workers.

Palmer, a missionary evangelist and church planter in Colombia, South America, addresses a critical problem in the Christian community--understanding and responding to interpersonal conflict in ways that are likely to maintain or restore unity. While the purpose of conflict management is not clarified, the Scripture states that unity is a top priority because it is one of the means by which God chooses to reveal his glory (John 17; Rom. 15; 1 Cor. 1-3; Eph. 4)

The author examines the causes of conflict, the four types of conflict, and the five styles of conflict management. Scripture is used extensively by way of illustration and documentation. The chapter entitled "Development of Conflict Management Skills" is particularly good. It introduces both analytic and behavioral tools for practical use. Discussion questions following each chapter and case studies make this text attractive for group study. The writing is clear, concise, and uncomplicated.

The book will be helpful to people (especially Westerners) who value more direct, face-to-face means of handling conflict. This is not, however, a universal value. Where shame, losing face, and losing honor are central cultural values (the author mentions these), indirect strategies are necessary, at least in the early stages. The author does not tell us what to do in these situations except to use "caution and diplomacy." More information specifically on intercultural conflict management is found in Communication, Culture, and Organizational Processes, ed. William B. Gudykunst, Lea P. Stewart, and Stella Ting-Toomey (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publ., 1985).

Duane Elmer teaches Intercultural Studies in the Christian Education Department at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. He and his wife were missionaries in South Africa and have conducted numerous overseas workshops on building relationships, resolving conflict, and cultural adjustment/effectiveness.
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Author:Elmer, Duane
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:286
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