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Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue 1st Edition

51 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0898620597
ISBN-10: 0898620597
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Editorial Reviews


"Friedman understood congregational life as no one else did at the time and possibly as no one else has done since....When this book was originally written, clergy flocked to read it, as well as to attend Friedman's lectures and participate in the training program he established. Just as the book's title suggests, Friedman's ideas continue to be passed down to today's generation of leaders."--from the Foreword to the Paperback Edition by Gary Emanuel, PhD, and Mickie Crimone, MS, APRN

"Well written and lively...required reading for pastoral counselors of every persuasion....Any therapist will find here new techniques for bringing about changes and will enlarge his or her conceptual framework of the human dilemma." --Jay Haley

"A feature throughout the book is the heavy use of story and narrative to make a point. This is very effective as the narrative often contains multi-dimensional meanings that the author then explores in an engaging way....Provides an interesting and very readable account of how to incorporate family processes into congregational life."--Journal for the Study of Marriage and Spirituality
(Journal for the Study of Marriage and Spirituality 2011-03-04)

"I was shocked, surprised and disillusioned when I began to realize that hard work, sincerity and prayer weren't enough to guarantee success in pastoral ministry. I kept getting myself into tangles that I didn't understand until I read this book by a storytelling rabbi with uncommon wisdom. Friedman helped me see that the best way to engage with the factors I can't control—like the opinions and behavior of others—was to focus on the factors that I can control: my own presence, identity and behavior in the social system of the local congregation."--The Christian Century
(The Christian Century 2011-03-04)

"An important contribution systems thinking and pastoral care....One of the most creative aspects of this volume is the way the book is laid out. The chapters are organized around interrelated concepts that feed back on and amplify one another—a design that itself helps the reader begin to think systemically."--Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling
(Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling 2011-03-04)

"A groundbreaking book in the use of family therapy....The key is not expertise, but self-definition and self-understanding."--Behavioral Studies of Religion
(Behavioral Studies of Religion 2011-03-04)

"A must read for persons of the cloth, for it points to significant issues and considerations on the experience of living in families and working with a congregation as a family."--Review and Expositor
(Review and Expositor 2005-01-03)

About the Author

Edwin H. Friedman, until his death in 1996, worked for more than 35 years in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and was in great demand as a consultant and public speaker throughout the country. A family therapist and ordained rabbi, Dr. Friedman was well known in the fields of mental health and pastoral education for his motivational style and his unique blend of systems thinking, humor, and common sense. He offered acclaimed workshops for mental health practitioners, clergy, business leaders, and others.



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Product Details

  • Series: The Guilford Family Therapy
  • Hardcover: 319 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (July 19, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898620597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898620597
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The late Edwin Friedman was an ordained rabbi and practicing family therapist. His ground-breaking work, Generation to Generation, exposed the emotional connections between home and work in religious, educational, therapeutic, and business systems, and has become a modern classic. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, is an acclaimed work on leadership. Friedman died in 1996.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Erik Buss on February 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This should be essential reading for any thinking pastor who seeks to help his or her congregation grow spiritually and psychologically. It is filled with ways of thinking about relationships that challenge and expand our normal definitions of what works and what doesn't. It moves beyond addressing intellectual techniques and tools to showing a person how to lead the emotional process in a congregation or a family.
I read Generation to Generation because I was looking for ways to become a better pastor. What I found was that it helped me as much or more in my own personal life and my marriage, which in turn made me a more effective pastor. It addresses leadership on every level.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John O VINE VOICE on September 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Generation to Generation" by Edwin Friedman is a groundbreaking book on the dynamics of organizational and religious leadership as seen through the lens of the multi-generational family systems model. In the book, Friedman uses case studies and examples drawn from his own leadership experience and uses them to illustrate how leadership can be understood and transformed by having an awareness of three major systems that directly affect organizational leadership:
1. the personal multi-generational family system of the leader
2. the organization itself as a system with both functional and dysfunctional elements
3. the family systems of those person within the organization- for a religious congregation this would be the families within the congregation; for a company it would be that of the employees; for a hospital, it would be that of the employees, volunteers and patients who comprise that organization, etc.
Friedman brilliantly shows how these three sets of systems intertwine with one another to make an organization function in a certain way. He asserts that by better understanding the dynamics of these systems and how they affect one another, leaders can move from a transactional style of leadership to one that is more transformational in the way it functions.
In addition, Friedman's book is a tremendously helpful resource in seeking to gain a better understanding of one's own family of origin issues and how these dynamics manifest themselves in our relationships throughout the life cycle.
In this sense, this book will be greatly beneficial, not only for leaders, but also for lay people as well as caregivers.
The book is challenging reading in spots, but well worth the effort- get this book of you have not done so already- it will change your perspective on leadership and life.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer VINE VOICE on May 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Utilizing Murray Bowen's multi-generational family systems model as a framework, Friedman has crafted a book that offers tremendously practical insights in the area of organizational leadership, as well as personal development. The book significantly enhances one's understanding of the connection between one's role in their family of origin and role in organizational leadership. He rightly asserts that one's family of origin role interrelates to how one functions in an organization, in addition to how the organization functions as a whole. I highly recommend this book to anyone in a position of leadership; for those who want to gain further insight into their family of origin issues, or want to learn about Bowen's multi-generational approach to family systems theory.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book has a reputation of revolutionizing the way its readers view congregational life. Based on his experience as a rabbi and marriage and family therapist, the late Ed Friedman gives the most comprehensive and practical understanding of congregations as emotional systems. Conflicts are explained not from a linear standpoint, i.e. "A causes B," but from a systemic perspective where all participants are contributors. Each part of the system is connected to, or has its own effect upon, every other part. This helps to explain why many "issues" that arise within a congregation cannot be settled on the level of content, but must be viewed as representations of how the persons surrounding the issues are participating in the relational system. "Issues" may seem settled, but if the relational system continues to function the same way, the same or other "issues" will reappear later, because they were merely symptomatic of the emotional dynamics among the people involved. This book begins by explaining the major concepts of family systems theory, and applies them to organizational life, leadership, and the leader's family. It is full of examples, which makes these complex ideas easier to grasp. Few books are as insightful and helpful in equipping church leaders to understand congregations. It is the standard in applying family systems theory to congregations.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Pinches on August 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book to be absorbed slowly.

I don't think I can summarize this book any better than Friedman himself does on page 1: "It is the thesis of this book that all clergymen and clergywomen, irrespective of faith, are simultaneously involved in three distinct families whose emotional forces interlock: the families within the congregation, our congregations, and our own. Because the emotional process in all of these systems is identical, unresolved issues in any one of them can produce symptoms in the others, and increased understanding of any one creates more effective functioning in all three."

This book will invite you to take a good, hard look at your own functioning. "There is an intrinsic relationship between our capacity to put families together [or, Friedman would also say, to put congregations together] and our ability to put ourselves together" (page 3). Friedman looks at family issues and congregational issues from a systems perspective, arguing that when a member of a family (or a congregation) is demonstrating "symptoms," it is necessary to look at the whole network of relationships that that individual is involved in -- because the root cause of the problem may lie in a completely different part of the system.

Friedman illustrates in detail how clergy can positively effect change in a family system or a congregational system. He also (somewhat indirectly) stresses the critical importance for clergy to resolve their own lingering family-of-origin issues.

The book is heavy reading -- full of terms that may be unfamiliar (and that, unfortunately, he doesn't directly explain, which can be confusing at first), such as "identified patient" and "self-differentiation" and "detriangulating.
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