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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: "The Church Leader's Handbook"

TITLE: The Church Leader's Handbook - A Guide to Counseling Families and Individuals in Crisis
AUTHOR: William R. Cutrer
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2009, (171 pages).

Pastoral care is a huge area of ministry in any church. The needs are so wide-ranging that it is impossible for pastors to meet the needs of every member. One can practise pastoral care without the need to bear the title of 'pastor.' Anyone in leadership can exercise care for the congregation. Thus, the title of the book is more inclusive, lest anyone thinks that it is only for pastors. As a physician, a minister, as well as a seminarian, Cutrer brings a holistic perspective to equipping members in the church for crisis care. For the author, 'crisis care is simply love in action' (9).

Whether it is grief, tragedy, crisis pregnancy, sudden illness, sexual abuse, suicide, infertility, marriage, and so on, the author holds five main requirements for ministry in crisis.

  1. It recognizes that 'value' of a Spirit-filled person who enters into the pain of another person.
  2. It requires consistent prayer before, during, and after the visitation.
  3. It requires patient listening and measured words.
  4. It requires a humble dependence on the Lord.
  5. It requires community where the resources of the church body is part of the solution.

Ministry in love can come forth in at least four strategic ways.

  1. Be present and available
  2. Be aware of the history of the person as much as possible
  3. Be focused on the present situation
  4. Be willing to come alongside the person(s).

Cutrer goes into very specific details about how to show care for different situations. What I find helpful is way the author weaves his training and experience together. For example, his model for biblical counseling includes relational models (as minister to show care), psychodynamic and physiologic models (as physician to show understanding), and prognosis (as seminarian to bring hope). At the end of the book, there are ten case studies that cover the wide ranging crisis situations.

This is a very practical book for ministry. The tips are easy to understand but challenging to practice at an emotional level. I recommend this book highly for anyone doing pastoral care and any layperson wanting to demonstrate love in action, especially during a crisis. This book is helpful before, during, and after any crisis.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


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