Augsburg Fortress

Becoming a Healthier Pastor: Family Systems Theory and the Pastor's Own Family

Becoming a Healthier Pastor: Family Systems Theory and the Pastor's Own Family

Among the most helpful and widely acclaimed resources for addressing church conflict and the quality of church life is Richardson's groundbreaking volume Creating a Healthier Church (Fortress Press, 1996). His application of family systems theory to congregational life has enormously clarified its operative systems and especially its emotional system.

In this sequel, Richardson employs the same methodology to address the roots of personal issues that may hinder pastors' ability to function effectively as leaders within their congregations, and may in fact cause them deep difficulties. He especially addresses pastors' own families of origin, a major but often hidden component in how they function emotionally in their congregations. When anxiety arises, unresolved familial issues and old family patterns return, often unhelpfully. Richardson explores these patterns, how they operate in church situations, and how pastors can do their own family-of-origin assessment. His volume will become a standard tool for analysis of patterns in ministerial behavior and developing strong personal effectiveness.

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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800636395
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5 x 8
  • Pages 160
  • Publication Date December 15, 2004


"One cannot become a healthier pastor without having the courage to understand and work on one's self in one's own family system. Central to the book Becoming a Healthier Pastor is Richardson's own ability to look at himself and his functioning in his family system. His example makes all the theoretical points come to life for the reader."
— Selden Dunbar Illick, Director, Princeton Family Center

"Richardson's latest work takes us deeper into family systems theory. This book will help pastors work wisely with their congregations. Because the primary focus is on gaining self-understanding by looking at one's own family of origin, this is a good read for anyone who works with people. You won't like it all, but you will learn."
— Stanley N. Olson, Executive Director, Division for Ministry, ELCA

"In Becoming a Healthier Pastor Richardson addresses a significant element of pastoral formation, the pastor's self. By using a systems approach as well as his own personal experience he demonstrates the importance of learning to manage oneself by reconnecting with one's family. This process of seeking greater emotional health and maturity within the family has important implications for pastoral ministry. Richardson also provides guidelines, along with a number of cautions, on how family of origin groups can become an essential part of pastoral care."
— Michael J. Nel, Director, Consultation to Clergy

"Pastors and church leaders are struggling with the demands of their vocation in a changing society. Ron Richardson presents family systems theory work — in a very understandable language — as a tool to improve emotional and social health. Readers will understand themselves and their relationships better and learn to manage relationships in a more healthy and effective way."
— Gwen Halaas, ELCA Board of Pensions Specialist on Clergy Self-Care