Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Read and Learn: Generation to Generation

One of the classes I am taking this semester is called "The Self in the System." It is a pastoral care class that focuses in on various schools of though regarding pastoral counseling. It has been a very interesting, challenging, and thought provoking class. Part of our grade involves five counseling sessions with a fellow student to practice some of the concepts and ideas we are learning. That's five sessions as a counselor and five sessions as a counselee. One of the books we have read for this class is called Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue by Edwin Friedman. Though I am still in seminary and don't have "real world" experience to back this statement up, I will go on a limb to say that this book is a must read for anyone in pastoral ministry. If you are an ordained minister, some of the ideas in this book could definitely be put to use in pastoral counseling scenarios and congregational dynamics of your church. From the dust flap, "Friedman compares the emotional processes at work within individual families to those in church and synagogue, suggesting that clergy can often do more to help families by the way they lead their congregations than they can through specific counseling interventions." If you are a lay leader, I can definitely see how it would be beneficial to see some of Friedman's ideas pan out in the lives of those on your committees, ministry teams, and small groups. And whether or not you fit into either of those two categories or not doesn't really matter. The personal perspective that can be gained from this book is phenomenal. In a culture where we mostly focus on the individual person, taking a step back and realizing the effects the systems/families we are a part of have on us is tremendously helpful. Friedman is a fairly blunt and straightforward individual, which won't jive with everyone's personal style to be sure, but there is undoubtedly fresh insight that can be garnered from this book.


John Edward Harris said...

You wroye "I will go on a limb to say that this book is a must read for anyone in pastoral ministry."

That is a pretty stiff limb to go out on. It is next to impossible to find any aspect of congregational conflict, revitalization, transformation or administration where Friedman's theories are not applicable. Here is a link to a post partially about Family Systems in presbyteries and congregations.

Pinkhammer said...

Thanks, John. I look forward to taking a look at your post.