Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Review: The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually Changes Lives, Peter Scazzero & Warren Bird. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003, 223 p.

Overview—Give a brief overview of the book, including its theme, perspective and approach.

Through a very painful season as a pastor and a husband, Peter Scazzero discovered how emotionally unhealthy he and his church were. He writes "The Emotionally Healthy Church" from his journey to emotional health himself. He urges contemporary Christians to look beneath the surface at their emotional life, understand how our pasts affect us and break from its power, live in brokenness and vulnerability, construct healthy boundaries by receiving the gift of limits, embrace grieving and loss rather than suppressing it, and making the incarnation of Christ our model for loving well.

Critique—Offer a brief critique of the book, including elements of strength and weakness.

Scazzero is honest, painfully so at times. But his personal stories and the stories of those in his church put flesh on his principles and allow the reader to enter into their lives. I found myself agreeing with most of Scazzero's points and seeing myself in some of his anecdotes! His strengths lie in his real world experience and his desire to integrate Biblical truth with contemplative introspection.

Application—Offer some specific application to your own ministry— demonstrating the value and relevance of the material in this book.

At a recent function I was sitting with a group of college students who asked me what I was reading. I explained the principles of the book to them and asked them the questions in Scazzero's "Emotional/Spiritual Health Inventory". They were fascinated. The interaction could have gone on for hours! So I see a hunger for a deeper emotional and spiritual pilgrimage. Scazzero's book offers many sign posts for the journey. His chapter on living incarnationally has many simple tools for entering other's worlds through conversation and interaction. Personally the chapter on "going deeper" was the most probing. Simply developing an awareness of how I am feeling at any given moment and then asking "why am I feeling this way?" is easier said than done!

Best Quote—Be sure to include the page number where the quote can be found.

p.50 "I believe the thesis of this book – that emotional health and spiritual health are inseparable – will amount to Copernican revolution for many in the Christian community. It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature."

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