Item description for Creating a Healthier Church (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling) by Ronald W. Richardson...
Overview An introduction to the Bowen Family Systems Theory and its applications both to church life and to the role of leadership in creating a healthier church, this book explains the complexities of congregational emotional life in understandable language.
Publishers Description Ronald W. Richardson helps us to understand how congregations function emotionally. Without being simplistic, he gives clear directions on how to improve their quality of life together and function more effectively in achieving mission goals. This book offers: A theory about human behavior that will aid understanding of how things can get out of control in the human community of the church; A practical set of leadership ideas and behaviors; Guidelines for how to behave in the midst of upsetting and conflictual circumstances; Personal steps that leaders in the church can take to become more positive forces for healing and cooperation.
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Studio: FORTRESS PRESS
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.52" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.41" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Aug 1, 1996
Publisher Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Series Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling
ISBN 0800629558 ISBN13 9780800629557
Reviews - What do customers think about Creating a Healthier Church (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling)?
Church as System Nov 18, 2007
Richardson provides a basic framework of systems theory and applies it to churches. He creates a stressful situation/story handled very differently by two churches. The more adaptive vs. maladaptive responses are used to demonstrate different components of systems theory. He covers basic systems within systems function: diagramming, the central role of anxiety in unbalancing systems, life forces of togetherness and individuality, the close/distant (pursuers/distancers) dynamic, fusion and differentiation (related to foolishness and wisdom), patterns of reactivity (compliance, rebellion, power struggle, and emotional distancing), triangulation, over/under functioning, and birth order. He places systems constructs in biblical context and makes individual, congregational, and church leadership applications. Each chapter has individual and group thought-provoking questions. Richardson provides excellent instruction in how to assess a congregation using a systems approach, and concludes with practical advice for church leaders to change their part in the system so that the whole church will be healthier. Although I found the book uneven in parts, I clearly was able to identify my own reactions towards fusion when anxious. I was given a clear theoretical framework for assessing and understanding a church in distress and tools to work from within for greater health.
A Practical Guide to a Healthy Church Oct 23, 2007
Richardson uses the church parish system as a backdrop to illustrate the existence of various family systems and sub-systems. The emotional system is highlighted and described as "one of the most powerful forces in any church or in any group of human beings."
It is crucial that we acknowledge, observe, understand and interact with the emotional system within a church, group or institution. Emotional skills development is essential to the life, health and well being of the person as well as the church, group or organization.
This was a very interesting and practical book.
Must read! Jan 9, 2007
If you've read, "Generation to Generation" by Edwin Friedman or are familiar with "family systems theory" you'll understand of the value of "Creating a healthier Church". Richardson playfully compares two Churches "Valley view" and "Third Church" to juxtapose healthy Churches and dysfunctional Churches. The main ideas in the book: How well do the people in a system handle two types of anxiety (Acute/Chronic), the problems of triangulation, and for the minister to be able to mess with the congregation yet have a sense of individuality or healthy separation from the group. As a Minster of just over 13 years, I recommend the book highly. It has been labeled as an introductory level book by several others, but I think even veterans will gain immense value from reading it. The book will provoke thought and introspection while providing applicable methods to better minister to the complex groups we work with.
Help for merging churches Nov 4, 2006
We have bought many copies of this title for our church library and the minister has asked us all to read and study it to help us get through a very difficult church merger. Two aging Methodist churches in our downtown area voted to merge before we agreed on such important issues as which church to keep and who would be the new church officers. I hope no other churches make this mistake, but am counting on this book to help us achieve harmony between factions. There are pointers here that should help us learn to at least "get along". Virginia Gleason
Very helpful Oct 21, 2006
Drawing on the work of Murray Bowen, Richardson presents a valuable discussion of the emotional system that is part of a congregation's life. The book begins with an introduction titled "When Bad Things Happen in Good Churches," in which he paints a portait of two different congregations dealing with similar issues. One of the portraits is laced with anger, hostility, resentment, and blame. The other portrait demonstrates responsible deeds and words on the part of all parties in the system. The difference between the two is stark, and Richardson attemps to describe in these pages what healthy congregations actually look like, and how a congregation can become one.
The book incorporates the learnings of family systems theory and applies them to a congregational setting. Richardson discusses anxiety, forces for togetherness and individuality, pursuers and distancers, fusion and differentiation, patterns of reactivity (including compliance, rebellion, power struggle, and emotional distancing), triangles, and leadership. One chapter is devoted to "signs of serious problems in a church" (which includes a section on overfunctioning and underfunctioning). Along the way, Richardson offers some reflection on biblical passages to support the theory, though it felt to me as if this material were added in later, after the bulk of the book had been presented; the biblical material did not feel integrated into the whole of the book.
One chapter is devoted to birth order and leadership style, drawing on the work of Walter Toman. Personally, I have not found Toman's work as helpful (or as "on-target") as I have found Bowen's family systems theory.
The final two chapters, which are very helpful, are devoted to "assessing your congregation's emotional system" and "becoming a better leader" (which includes a discussion about self-differentiation and the negative reactions that differentiation usually leads to, initially).
All in all, this is a very helpful book. I found it to be a useful summary of what I had learned about family systems theory and its applicability to congregational settings from other writers, notably Edwin Friedman. Richardson does not write with the wit and passion that Friedman writes with, making this book to be somewhat more bland, but Richardson's book may be more organized than Friedman's books are. After soaking in Friedman, I did not find much here that was new. Also, if I hadn't soaked in Friedman, I'm not sure I would have fully grasped the power of the model that Richardson offers. This is a very helpful book; I just wish that reading it were a bit more exciting!