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Introducing the Practice of Ministry Paperback – August 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


Catholic practical theologian Kathleen Cahalan has written an outstanding book on ministry. It is a rare thing to find a book on ministry that is both theologically rich and broadly accessible. More rare still is a book that could be of value to one in the throes of discerning a call to ministry as well as to the wise pastor many years into ministry. . . . The Trinitarian, missional, and vocational frame of her argument make this a very welcome book for Lutherans and other mainline Protestants, and her deep focus on the Spirit’s gifts suggests a fruitful opening to a broad array of other Protestant churches.
Word & World

Cahalan’s book is an eloquently written resource for reflecting on the nature and purpose of ministry. Those who teach seminary students, work with interns, or mentor new pastors will find this book extremely helpful. Those who are reflecting on their own call to ministry will find here a rigorous discussion and more than a place to start.

In my research about pastoral ministry, it has become evident that books that give an account of the practice of ministry are in short supply. Cahalan’s book is a welcome gift to fill that gap. Pastors, theological teachers and those discerning a call to ministry may all find a welcome in its pages.
Christian Century

Grounded in practical theology, Kathleen Cahalan’s Introducing the Practice of Ministry is an ideal text for students and those practicing ministry who are discerning their own ministerial roles.

So many studies of ministry perpetuate the heroic myth that ministers stand apart from other Christians as specialists who labor at holy matters in self-contained way. By contrast, Kathleen Cahalan reconnects us with the wider, deeper wisdom of the church, that ministry exists in and for the community of disciples. With clear insight, consistent vision, and close attention to theological resources, she offers a compelling case that the practices of ministry are intimately related to the life of discipleship and therefore aim mainly at its thriving. With ecumenical reach, this book is a liberating alternative to stale views of ministry and a fine example of how practical theology contributes directly to the church’s witness today.
James Nieman, PhD, Professor of Practical Theology, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary, Connecticut

A welcome guide from a wise practitioner. Coming in the midst of one of the most profound ministerial transformations in the history of Christianity, Cahalan’s introduction keeps us firmly focused on what is most important—discipleship. With great pastoral sensitivity and keen theological insight, Cahalan situates ministry within a vision of discipleship rooted in the practices that defined Jesus’ own life. Gently, we are drawn into a process of reflection and discernment that seeks to integrate what we do, how we live, and who we are called to be. This wonderful text is essential reading for all of us learning to minister in a changing church.
Edward P. Hahnenberg, Author of Ministries: A Relational Approach and Awakening Vocation: A Theology of Christian Call

Prudent without a hint of stuffiness, wise without ever being aloof, Kathleen Cahalan has conjured up one smart book on ministry. With the heart of a practical theologian and the charism of a gifted teacher, she weaves multiple threads, sources, and insights into a work both lucid and passionate. Theoretically strong without a hint of stodginess, Cahalan is a gifted guide who leads us to the heart of the matter. Surely a classic in the making, anyone involved in ministry formation needs to read this book.
Edward Foley, Capuchin, Duns Scotus Professor of Spirituality, Professor of Liturgy and Music, Catholic Theological Union

There are so many wonderful things to say about this book, I don’t know where to start. It fills a real gap in introductory literature. It is a perfect book for those trying to discern a call. It speaks about ministry as a whole rather than a bunch of component parts (e.g., pastoral care, leadership, preaching). It is richly grounded in Scripture, attentive to practice, and deeply theological. Step by step, with clarity and wisdom, drawing on years of teaching and a keen eye for the right literature from a range of disciplines, Kathleen Cahalan guides us well through the aims and architecture of ministry.
Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Pastoral Theology, The Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University

About the Author

Kathleen A. Cahalan is associate professor of theology at Saint John's University School of Theology/Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota. She is author of Formed in the Image of Christ: The Sacramental-Moral Theology of Bernard H„ring (Liturgical Press, 2004) and Projects That Matter: Successful Planning and Evaluation for Religious Organizations (Alban Institute, 2003). She is the past-president of the Association of Practical Theology.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press; 58269th edition (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081463169X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814631690
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the last ten years, Cahalan has taught a course titled Introduction to Pastoral Ministry at St. John's, which explores basic questions about ministry. With an awareness that no text exists that considered these matters to her satisfaction and based on her experience teaching the course, Cahalan wrote Introducing the Practice of Ministry.

The text is designed for those seeking to discern their call to ministry and helpful for those already in ministry positions as well as those in lay leadership positions who encourage or provide support for those considering graduate level theological education or already engaged in it. The first two chapters provide a solid framework for the Christian life and the last three offer a robust consideration of the practice of ministry, however, sandwiched between these is the book's greatest treasure: an exploration of the six practices of ministry.

In this middle chapter, Cahalan crafts six practices of ministry, which is based on Jesus' ministry and that of the early apostles and first ministers. For each practice, she identifies three charisms - one related to being, one related to knowing, and one related to doing.
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Format: Paperback
Professor Kathleen Cahalan has offered readers a smart book on Practice and on Ministry. While it is titled an introduction this book is comprehensive. She defines current conversations in a fresh and inviting framework that is original and foundational at the same time. The heart of her teaching is the last chapter where she presents a readable and contemporary belief in the Trinity as the dynamism of practice of ministry. This book is an invitation to vocation for all disciples. She defines ministry in service of disciples. The charisms of the Holy Spirit are not separate gifts, but enfold us in deep, abiding relationships. We imitate Christ and are literally Christ for others in our very own world.

If a book can be a verb, this is one. I have read it twice and it continues to change not only my thinking, values and attitudes, but actions that become a habit. It is in the practice that we become by grace what God is by nature.

I wish I had this book when I worked in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis's Education Office, or when I was on the Board of St. Meinrad Seminary, or Weston School of Theology Board. I would recommend this book as a place to start for all who have been Baptized. Vocation has a voice through this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kindle comes in a timely fashion. College students need to get their books as soon as possible, as assignments begin the first week, so I appreciate when I get books on time. The study of discipleship is broken down in a good format in the reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Used this book for Seminary and found that it had so much info to use in the Practice of Ministry. Will get it out often to refer to situations that need help.
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Format: Paperback
A ministry is more than one man. "Introducing the Practice of Ministry" discusses that ministry as a whole, and the role of the minister in that community. Kathleen A. Cahalan discusses ministry in this fashion, with an eye for disciples, vocation, leadership, and countless other important practices that are vital to being a good community leader and minister that can help the faith strong in a community with solid values. "Introducing the Practice of Ministry" is a top pick for any minister with doubts on their ability.
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