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The Emotionally Healthy Church, Updated and Expanded Edition: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes Lives Kindle Edition
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From the Publisher
After several years of living out the principles of The Emotionally Healthy Church within the local church I pastor, I wrote them in the first edition of this book. My intention was to speak particularly to pastors, elders, deacons, and ministry and small group leaders. Little did I know that the book's message would spread beyond church leaders to countless others struggling with the integration of emotional health and biblical spirituality. Even more of a surprise was the centrality of this issue not only for the church in North America, but around the world.
During the seven years since the first edition, my understanding of the six principles that make up emotionally healthy churches has grown deeper, sharper, and broader. I have grown theologically as I have encountered new personal and leadership applications of the material. As a result, each chapter has been edited, expanded, and updated.
Moreover, this journey has led me to add a seventh, indispensable principle: lead with integrity. The pace of my life slowed down considerably when I began integrating emotional health with my discipleship. It takes time -- lots of it -- to feel, to grieve, to listen, to reflect, to be mindful of what is going on around and in us. This radically shifted my priorities at home and in my work. Emotional health also created a hunger within Geri and me for a deeper communion with God. This in turn led to an exploration of contemplative spiritual practices, culminating in a four-month sabbatical in 2003 - 2004. Our aim was to study the riches of the contemplative tradition and its applications for a missional church like ours. This immersion into such spiritual disciplines as silence and solitude transformed us, and eventually, our church. Insights from these experiences are sprinkled throughout the book.
While the contemplative tradition helped me considerably in my efforts to lead with integrity, I had yet to apply emotional health to my leadership. That turned out to be a challenging, complex task. I describe this unfolding in the new chapter 11, "Slow Down to Lead with Integrity."
One final note: Resist the temptation to breeze through these pages. This is not a book meant to be read quickly in one or two sittings. This is not simply the latest fascinating idea to incorporate in your God-talk with colleagues or parishioners. I invite you to wrestle deeply with these truths as you consider how they apply to both your inner life and leadership. You could spend a lifetime plumbing the depths of each -- from limits, to brokenness, to grieving, to learning to love well. Please read slowly, prayerfully, and thoughtfully. As you do, ask the question, "How is God coming to me through this?" Consider making personal applications in a journal or in the back of the book, noting the page number for future reference.
Be sure to grasp the central thesis: Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. When you understand this, you will walk through a door in your spiritual journey. Few ever return to a tip-of-the-iceberg discipleship that overemphasizes activity but does not deeply transform from the inside out. By God's grace, you will never be the same. And you will embark on an exciting journey toward a beautiful life that will touch everyone around you -- in your family, church, workplace, and neighborhood. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00C0UPKRQ
- Publisher : Zondervan; New Upd Ex edition (May 23, 2013)
- Publication date : May 23, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 921 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 228 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #69,338 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Chapter five really got me when Scazzero quotes and discusses at length stories from a “real story” to paint the church, missionaries and bible believing Christians in a very negative light, it is moving and compelling, even disturbing. However a quick trip to Scazzero’s end notes finding the novel he is quoting is called “The Poisonwood Bible” a quick look online shows this is a fictional account....you know, made up, fantasy... I had a hard time taking anything serious in the book after this manipulative use of a fictional account.
This book seems chalked full of worldly, man-centered therapeutic trends. There does not seem to be a centralized truth that Scazzero builds any of his beliefs from. As I said before a hodgepodge of anecdotal pragmatic lessons he has learned for himself, not all of which are bad, but it felt kind of like looking for a fresh drink of water in a stagnate swamp, there’s likely something there helpful, but a lot of things that are dangerous.
The author is part of a board-run church. The dynamics are different in churches operating under congregational, episcopal or team leadership models.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of the book is a lack of developmental editing. Many parts seem jumpy and perhaps repetitive. It ends like an info-mercial, encouraging the reader to buy the next product. Not that the product is bad. But I wish publishers would pay more attention to the content and the editing.
THESIS OF THE BOOK. "Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature" (p10). The author lays out this thesis in the introduction and returns to it several times throughout the book. Scazzero believes Christians are unsure of how to deal with emotions and, in fact, usually have a theology that encourages them to bury any negative emotions. This in turn pushes them to try to replace emotions with work, feel negative toward others or themselves, or withdraw. Their disconnection from their emotions is deadly to the church body. Pastors and other church leaders are not immune to this malady; in fact, their inability to develop emotional health can infect their congregations. This emotional infancy can be discipled into emotional adulthood with the proper Biblical training and skills. Emotional growth then allows for spiritual growth.
INTENDED AUDIENCE. In the first edition of this book, Scazzero's intended audience was "pastors, elders, deacons, and ministry and small group leaders" in North America (p9). However, the book proved popular with lay members who struggled with emotional and spiritual health. It also helped church leaders around the world deal with the issues addressed in this book.
STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK. Scazzero begins the book with a story from his own life, explaining how he came to realize that spiritual maturity is related to emotional health. He then makes it clear that he believes this inability to deal with emotions in a healthy manner has infected many of our congregations. Furthermore, church leaders are unable to help their churches unless they themselves aren't facing up to issues in their own lives.
This is reiterated in Part II, where Scazzero explains how the emotional dimension is as much a part of our wholeness as is our spiritual, physical, and other aspects. He provides an "Emotional/Spiritual Health Inventory" (pp61-67) to help the reader gauge their emotional maturity.
Part III---which is the bulk of the book---lays down seven principles for a new paradigm in discipleship. Briefly, these principles are:
(1) Look beneath the surface
(2) Break the power of the past
(3) Live in brokenness and vulnerability
(4) Receive the gift of limits
(5) Embrace grieving and loss
(6) Make incarnation your model for loving well
(7) Slow down to lead with integrity
Scazzero ends the book with a six-page appendix that provides the reader with a guide to how the leaders in Scazzero's church (New Life Fellowship) follow a Rule of Life. This Rule of Life helps the leaders "keep God at the center of everything we do" (p224).
SUMMARY OF CONTENT. Too many of our church leaders are "workaholics for God" (p23), relying on their spiritual gifts alone to sustain them in their vocations. This has resulted in (among other things) burnout, broken families, loss of leadership position, split churches, and a bad example for congregants.
The reason for this burnout is a lack of emotional maturity. The discipleship model the church has followed for several years "failed to acknowledge emotional growth---the progression from emotional infancy or adolescence into emotional adulthood" (p47). In fact, in many churches, to be emotional is seen to be less than spiritual. However, to ignore emotions amounts to ignoring reality, masking changes that Jesus Christ wants to make in a person's life. Churches can become emotionally healthy by following seven principles of discipleship.
Humans are similar to icebergs in that they have a lot of emotions hidden beneath the surface. Most people won't deal with these emotions until it becomes too painful for them to avoid doing so. Dealing with hidden emotions involves four components: (1) becoming aware of the feelings, (2) asking why the feelings are there, (3) linking the Gospel to emotional health, and (4) getting rid of the "glittering image" we make of ourselves.
With this perspective of their emotions, people can then move on towards understanding "how their past affects their present ability to love Christ and others" (p90). The family we grow up with typically wields the most influence on us (p98), so identifying how they (or other major influences) shaped us will allow us to replace those old roots with the new family tree of the church. This takes an honest reflection of both positive and negative aspects of these influences on our lives (pp102-103). Rather than being a one-time process, we can take this look back whenever we are unable to go forward.
Because of the Fall, there are thorns and thistles in our lives and our relationships (p116). We live with pain and failure, but these can be positions of strength if we accept our limitations as a gift. Our weaknesses can enable us to be teachable and serve others from our brokenness and humility.
Just as individuals recognize limits, congregations can recognize their own limits. This helps a church avoid trying to become like other churches. Members must be given the freedom to say no, rather than feel pressured to do more and more. At the same time, people must be encouraged to let God lead them through their limitations, using them to achieve things they might be avoiding because of character flaws.
Experiencing grief helps us to become compassionate. Instead of covering up grief, we should deal honestly and prayerfully with losses (p170). We can learn through grief to surrender to God's will, have fewer fears, live with mystery, and be more at home with ourselves and God (pp175-176).
Rather than focusing on numbers, gifts, Biblical knowledge, etc., churches should focus on incarnating Jesus. They should commit themselves to loving God, themselves, and others. This includes not only physically moving out of our comfort zones to where people are (p187), but also learning to listen to others and trying to truly understand them. When doing this, we must be careful not to lose ourselves, becoming so overly empathetic that we drop our own point of view.
The final principle is to learn how to slow down and lead with integrity. With all the demands on time, we have to make time for ourselves to relax and replenish our souls. Married couples need to invest in each other and in their families (p210). Church leadership need to develop and publish (for congregation members to understand) spiritual practices that remembers God in all they do.
CRITIQUE. I'm certainly no expert on spiritual development, but I have read several books on the subject. Based on those readings, I have to agree with Scazzero that---while there are notable exceptions (e.g., Henri Nouwen)---the contemplative tradition tends to give short shrift to emotional health. I also agree with most of his other major premises: it is impossible to be spiritually mature while emotionally immature; we tend to bury emotions rather than deal with them; unhealthy devotion to our jobs can squeeze out other important aspects of our lives; etc.
The book is packed with real-life examples; every chapter has stories from people's lives. Several of the stories are autobiographical, giving the reader an insight into the author's experiences and his awakening to the problem of buried emotions. Most of us can relate to the majority of Scazzero's stories (his own and others'). This gives the reader a feeling that the author is offering practical advice.
As I mentioned in "Structure of the Book" above, the bulk of the book are the chapters that explain each of Scazzero's seven principles. This provides an easy flow to the reading and helps the reader maintain interest throughout the book. In each of the chapters, the real-life stories drive home the point and show how the related principle is applied.
Despite all of its good advice, this book is not without its flaws. The practical, real-life stories are appealing, yet Scazzero tends to rely too heavily on them. In some sections of the book, he relates stories but fails to specifically state (in concrete terms) the point he is trying to get across. For example, the sections "Holding On to Yourself" and "Living Out the Third Dynamic" (pp193-199) are full of stories and illustrations from movies, but have no practical advice; if Scazzero had a substantial point he wanted to convey, he lost it on me. Sometimes to get the point across, we just have to get to the point.
The book also lacks a certain amount of balance. For instance, I agree with Scazzero about living in brokenness and receiving the gift of limits. However, without further explanation, the reader could take Scazzero's advice the wrong way and just as easily swerve into the other ditch. A pastor who too readily confesses his shortcomings or who gives details about his failings could be harmful to his congregation. A congregant who doesn't stretch his or her gifts may atrophy (especially since God often leads us from weakness so He can receive the glory). I'm sure Scazzero doesn't intend for anyone to go to the other extremes, but I feel he should try to better explain the concept of balance in a Christian's life.
Likewise, Scazzero focuses on emotional maturity to the detriment of spiritual maturity. I haven't read his Emotional Healthy Spirituality that he recommends as "the next step" in the final chapter, so maybe in that book he concentrates more on spiritual aspects of the Christian life. But in this book, he gives us very, very little insight into that spiritual dimension. With a subtitle of A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually Changes Lives, I anticipated a much more robust discussion of spiritual health and spiritual disciplines that could be offered by a church.
Despite these criticisms, I would highly recommend this book for Christian leaders. It opened my eyes to an emotional issue of my own. I believe the principles Scazzero advocates could help church leaders and the congregants they serve.
I imagine the struggle for many reading this book is the clear fact that radical changes in church culture can only begin at the top; and most senior pastors I know are too busy and insecure to take the challenge Pete lays out in this book.
Top reviews from other countries
I am reading this with my husband who is a church pastor.
it is an eye opener - come at just the right time for us.
Be prepared to be challenged and think.
If these emotionally healthy principles could be incorporated into any organisation (religious or not), life would be so much simpler and we would all be healthier too.
It starts with individuals making changes and then modelling them in everyday life. My husband and I have started this and seen the ripples spread around our family!
Here's hoping the church can be influenced positively too!
The kindle addition had a couple of typos which were annoying.
A very freeing and liberating book, written by a man who has been there and is sharing out of his own experience that which he has painfully learned.
I highly recommend this book, easily read in sections or straight through. Can be uncomfortable in places, especially where you recognise yourself......but that, of course, is what it's all about.