Augsburg Fortress

Living Stories: Pastoral Counseling in Congregational Context

Living Stories: Pastoral Counseling in Congregational Context

Pastoral counseling, Donald Capps believes, should not be just another service—like chartered tours—that churches provide for their members. Rather, he views counseling as essential to the religious task and identity of any religious congregation or parish. In his new, more radical model of pastoral counseling, Capps combines the innovative techniques of brief counseling or therapy with recent insights about the uses of narrative in pastoral care.

Itself enlivened by many stories, Capps' book explains how people "story" their lives—inspirationally, paradoxically, or miraculously—and the patterns they exhibit. He shows pastors how they can help people discover their own "story," discern its shape and direction, and move constructively to find new understandings or possibilities in their situation. Through pastoral counseling, Capps affirms, congregations can become constructive environments in which people find new grounds for hope.
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800630737
  • eBook ISBN 9781451416237
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 240
  • Publication Date June 11, 1998


"Living Stories is a refreshing challenge to a church context in which the ministry of counseling is more and more being relegated to the certified professional. Donald Capps provides a thoughtful framework for revisioning counseling through a careful integration of biblical insights, individual and family systems models of therapy, and his own use of delightful and challenging narratives. This book will be an invaluable help for ministers and lay counselors—showing how to notice and to hear stories, how to listen carefully to their contexts and meanings, and how to begin to reclaim the counseling process as an essential aspect of ministry."
— Patricia Howery Davis, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
    Introduction: Counseling in the Congregational Context

  2. The Stories Clients Tell
  3. The Inspirational Story: The Art of the Power of Suggestion
  4. The Pardoxical Story: The Art of Untying Knots
  5. The Miracle Story: The Art of Identifying Exceptions
  6. Social Gossip and Pastoral Counseling

    Epilogue: The Art of Holding On Loosely