The Elephant in the church, by Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner and Mary Lynn Dell

Elephant in the churchWritten by a pastoral theologian and a psychiatrist, both ordained, this book brings pastoral sensitivity and psychological awareness to factors that can ‘kill ministry’. It is addressed  particularly to ordained ministers; however, it would be useful for anyone in leadership in a congregation, and especially those who are leading congregations without placed ordained  ministers. It explores how congregations often avoid facing difficult aspects of their history or hard decisions about their futures and how leaders might respond.

In this book, “Elephant stands for an obvious truth or issue that is ignored or unnamed, yet is allowed to occupy a large amount of space in the hearts and minds of those who tiptoe  around it.”

The authors point out that finding the elephants is not always as easy as may be imagined – like seeking the cleverly hidden Wally in the Where’s Wally books.

They consider conflict, depression, dealing with difficult people and maintaining self-care. I found the book easy to read; although, if the material is completely unfamiliar, it may need  to be taken slowly and thoughtfully.

Ian Tozer

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