A mission team can go through similar process as what happens in a church when conflicts are not resolved.
“Two intensifying processes take place throughout the stages of unresolved conflict: (a) an increasing personal frustration over the unresolved issue(s), and (b) an increasing negative perception of the character of the other person / people.” Looking at the image below, the best time to resolve a conflict is at stage 2. However, stage 3 is still in the healthy zone for resolution.
Stage 1. (Sometimes) an Uncomfortable Feeling. Something is wrong but not sure what.
Stage 2. A Problem to be Resolved. Problem identified. <Issue-focused> [Best time to resolve a conflict]
Stage 3. A Person to Differ with. (Other person-focused) Sides are determined. Discussion changes from what is the best solution, to who is right and who is wrong.
Stage 4. A Dispute to Win. <Issue-focused with greater intensity> Collaboration breaks down. Other issues begin to add to the conflict. Feelings get hurt.
Stage 5. A Person to Attack. <Other person-focused. Greater intensity>. Battle lines are drawn. Stereotyping of the other side occurs with the worst thought of adversaries.
Stage 6. My “Face” to Save. <Self-focused. Greater Intensity> Things get personal. Protecting one’s image and character become dominant. Things are seen as black vs white, good versus evil.
Stage 7. A Person to Expel, Withdraw from, or Ruin. <Other person-focused, Greater intensity> All or nothing battle. Someone or a whole group must go.
Stage 8. The Aftermath. All are affected. Some are embarrassed. Some are not satisfied and want to ruin the reputations of others. Some are full of shame and now lose confidence in themselves.
This sounds extreme… but around the world:
IT HAPPENS EVERY DAY!!
<Reference: The Escalating Stages of Unresolved Church Conflict by Ken Newberger>