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The Quadrant Conflict January 22, 2008

Posted by dan snyder in Leadership Reflections, Transitions.
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The following teaching comes from Ron Susek (Susek Evangelistic Association). I have found it to be very helpful in understanding various perspectives in a congregation. Understanding these perspectives, then, helps leaders to (1) know how to honor them, (2) know how to help them understand each other, and (3) to know the unique contribution that each quadrant can make to the mission of the congregation.

“Each church can be divided into four quadrants, as illustrated in the chart that follows.

Chart of Church Cultural Structure


These people have the greatest longevity in years and experience. They know the issues of the past and why things are done as they are today. There is an institutional memory that gives a sense of ownership (which can be good or bad). They are the gatekeepers  of power and influence whether or not holding office. This is gained from family ties and/or past respect. Their vision is an exercise  in back to the future: the church should become what it was in the golden age of their memory. They often feel that the institution is more important than the pastor or other leadership (‘Pastors come and go but the church is here to stay’). Need: to be informed and respected.


These are often in primary position of authorized leadership and generally have a particular ministry concern (education, youth, music, mission). They are often the second generation of the protectors. They still hold to the values of the past, but not as tenaciously as the protectors. Their vision is status quo (not wanting major change): they believe they have worked hard to get the church where it is. While saying they want church growth, they want it to be more of what it was. They have institutional memory but not nearly that of the protectors. They still have firsthand appreciation for events that have transpired, events that shaped the present culture of the church. This group is willing to progress beyond past issues, although they still respect the issues that strongly impacted their parents and grandparents. They are more institution oriented than pastor oriented. Need: to have their particular ministry need met.


These are people with entry level responsibilities; they are beginning to be integrated (may take ten months to ten years). This group brings a measure of spiritual depth (some may be very spiritual), but they are implants. Their vision is future focused. Since they don’t have institutional loyalty, the pastor is more important than the church. Need: to be mentored.


Tend to be younger people, often new converts and new to the church. They have an almost unguarded commitment to the pastor: his words are from God. They are know for their zeal and are often evangelistic. They don’t have a well developed vision. Nor do they have a clue about the church issues or doctrinal positions that govern the culture and life of the church, therefore they are wide open for change. Need: to be discipled in the basics of faith.

Note:The pastor and leadership staff live in the middle circle of the chart and have an obligation before God to honor, listen and attend to the needs of all four groups. Further, the pastor and leadership staff must build respect and understanding between the groups, or a culture of disrespect and distrust will emerge.

The understandable danger in nearly all churches is that the pastor and pastoral staff will lean toward the group(s) that hail their vision, interests and preferences.”

[Developed by Dr. Ron Susek. Used by permission.]

Comment below on the following thoughts:

How does this help you understand the issues or conflicts in your congregation?

What has your church leadership team done to listen and attend to the needs of each quadrant?

How have you seen distrust and disrespect dissolve as understanding is built between quadrants?