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Facing Messy Stuff in the Church: Case Studies for Pastors and Congregations Paperback – January 17, 2005
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"Swetland, who teaches pastoral counseling at Gordon-Cromwell Seminary, has compiled real case studiesññchanging only people's and churches' namesññto offer a candid look at thorny pastoral problems. His profiles don't offer solutions, but examine sin's skein-like messiness to show what church leadership faces and how pastors can take action. The problems are often more complicated than they appear. Issues range from the repeatedly repentant alcoholic to the mild-mannered sexual deviant who is an expert liar to the upstanding citizen and model church member who is an adulterer. . . . Recommend this book to pastors and Christian counselors who aren't looking for easy answers." (Gerry Wisz CBA Marketplace 2005-01-02)
"Combining accessibility with scholarly depth, Jesus Under Fire examines the authenticity of the words, actions, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus and presents compelling evidence for the traditional biblical teachings." (Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox 2005-04-01)
"Facing Messy Stuff lends itself to group studies. It would be well for local pastors' organizations to do this among themselves using Swetland's book as a text. In addition, this is a reference book that should always be near the pastor's fingertips. A noted chaplain who works in the San Francisco Bay area, Rev. Carson Curcini, after looking over the notes for this review, stated: ""This is a very important book for pastors...especially for this day and age that we live in."" To that this minister can give a hearty ""Amen!"" Facing Messy Stuff in the Church should be in every pastor's and chaplain's library." (Rev. Austin Miles Churchquest.com 2005-06-01)
"Reading this book by Kenneth L. Swetland seemed a little like watching those daytime talk shows [`a la Dr. Phil, Oprah or The Jerry Springer Show]. Each chapter is a well-crafted presentation of some disturbing and [unfortunately] highly relevant case studies." (Ministries Today 2005-07-01)
"These are the problems that are coming up with increased regularity in churches today in a world of chaos and confusion. And pastors and chaplains must be equipped to handle them spiritually, professionally, and most importantly of all--effectively. This book teaches how to deal with these problems -- as the author states [and teaches] --1
From the Back Cover
Ministry is messy business. As a pastor or church leader, you interact regularly with people struggling with depression, sexual harassment, pornography, divorce, the effects of abortion, and other serious issues. You are called upon to work through these crises, but may feel very unequipped to do so.
In this collection of fifteen case studies, Kenneth Swetland prepares church leaders to deal with the messy stuff head on, rather than merely doing damage control after the problems have erupted. Each chapter presents a real-life crisis and leads the reader to work through careful biblical responses to it. Included are discussion questions for each case study, an appendix for discussion facilitators, and a bibliography of additional resources on the particular issues raised.
Kenneth L. Swetland (D.Min., Andover Newton Theological School) has been academic dean and professor of pastoral ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for more than thirty-two years, and is now Campus Chaplain. He is the author of The Hidden World of the Pastor: Case Studies on Personal Issues of Real Pastors.
Top customer reviews
The repetitive instances observed throughout the interviews contained throughout this reading are to some degree proof-positive of a systemic lack of self-awareness within the ranks of ministry as well as scant measures of accountability to safeguard the work of the church. A frequent post-failure remark is, "we didn't really know our pastor." The discovery is often the result of a cognitive bias commonly exercised when one's judgments of a person's character is influenced by one's overall impression of him or her, regardless of their "true" identity. This is recognized outside of the context of church ministry as the "halo effect," or "halo error." This also ventures into the subject matter of cognitive dissonance where "being" or professed values, are not in proper alignment with "doing" or expressed values. In too many instances, the antagonist is permitted to live in isolation with little or no accountability whatsoever, other than presenting a particular text on a regular basis. This is further complicated when the glory of God is frequently compromised in order to preserve the glory of men. The social-standing of the church within the community is often given priority, rather than safeguarding the name of Christ.
To further complicate matters, the church uniformly accepts the Matthew 18:15 in principle but poorly understands and therefore improperly executes this in the "real world." Eswine, in Sensing Jesus suggests, "Our spiritual inability to remain with a people in a place as a family through thick and thin when not everything is how we prefer it or want it becomes apparent. We do not believe we need to stay in a place in which our feelings and needs are incompletely met." In far too many of these accounts, the sanctification process in which we are all currently involved was not allowed to come to completion. The unresolved problem simply took another address with different unsuspecting actors.
I am increasingly concerned that the behavior identified in this book is running unchecked through the universal church. I am convinced this will only be properly addressed when those in leadership deliberately and strategically choose to initiate careful measures to develop healthy steps of personal accountability within the role of those called to shepherd. This can only be accomplished through loving community who together rally with the mutual goal of glorifying God with our lives through a visibly healthy work and testimony of the local church. The case-studies clearly validate that "preachers are people too - only more so!"