My favorite branch of theology has become ecclesiology, which I define as the study of how congregations should work ideally, how they do work in reality, and how individual congregations cooperate together. I also contend that too many of us Unitarian Universalists reduce theology to ontological theology, or the study of the nature of ultimate reality (i.e., whether God exists or not, etc.) — which I actually find fairly pointless because no one ever seems to get anywhere with ontological theology. Ecclesiology, on the other hand, is something that you can actually experience, and observe, and experiment with.
More and more, I’ve been reading up on the sociology of congregations to try to gain some insight into how congregations work in reality. I don’t want to oversimplify, but one of the biggest realities in most congregations is conflict — conflict is a fact of life. I found a great resource online for understanding conflict in congregations — a concise summary of “Levels of Conflict” — Alban Institute’s model for conflict management in congregations.
If you haven’t run into this model before, click on that link above and scan the summary. If you have run into the model before, this is the best summary I’ve run across