Willimon makes an excellent point about the way to help avoid conflict before it arises, by using the pulpit to educate and remind the congregation about the “stories, values and visions that make [it] Christian.”
One fundamental reason why congregations are plagued by conflict is that there is no consensus within the congregation about the purpose and nature of the church. In today’s mobile society, where half the population moves every five years, many congregations are faced with the task of continually integrating newcomers into the congregation. Preaching, as a major source of Christian identity, is the chief opportunity for reiterating the stories, values and visions that make a congregation Christian. Through this process the community gathers and focuses itself, celebrates its common goals and underscores its mission. All of this is to suggest that much of our preaching, while not specifically related to solving a particular conflict within the congregation, is essential preparation for the Christian resolution of conflicts when they occur. A congregation that has no center, no general consensus about the direction of the church, is ill-equipped to handle crisis. Thus the preaching that occurs in a congregation, week in and week out, is a major component in conflict management. (p. 27)
That is good for all of us, especially if we are NOT in a season of conflict.