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Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue
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Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  416 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
This acclaimed, influential work applies the concepts of systemic family therapy to the emotional life of congregations. Edwin H. Friedman shows how the same understanding of family process that can aid clergy in their pastoral role also has important ramifications for negotiating congregational dynamics and functioning as an effective leader. Clergy from diverse ...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published July 19th 1985 by The Guilford Press
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Adam Ross
This was a really good book, which I discovered when Rich Bledsoe recommended it in a lecture. I'm very glad I picked it up. The book is on family process counseling, which refuses to treat humans as isolated individuals like most other counseling practices. Rather, family process views you as part of a family system or dynamic, interwoven with the relationship you have with parents, siblings, grandparents, husband, wife, children, etc.

The books strong point is on evaluating problem people. He a
Apr 02, 2014 Dan rated it liked it
Lots of content but not much on the practicality. There were many examples but not much given on how to work with this idea more effectively.
John Sewell
Oct 25, 2014 John Sewell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most important, in the short list of books that changed my life! It's that good
David Ryan
Nov 22, 2016 David Ryan rated it did not like it
Read this along with my reading partner because several folks said it was "life/ministry" changing for them. I found it difficult to get a good handle on what the author was saying - and wondering about the real practicality to ministry. maybe its that the book is decades old and much of what was ground breaking at the time is now accepted and common knowledge? Perhaps I don;t understand the language of pyscology enough to appreciate? I kept reading because was doing this with my partner, other ...more
Jan 30, 2009 Kristi rated it it was amazing
I read this book in seminary -- it's an introduction to family systems theory for clergy. I recently reread it to try to understand better the dynamics of our church implosion.

Family systems theory is (very simplistically) the idea that our strengths or problems don't occur in isolation, but rather reflect the role we play in a family or other organization. So if a child acts out, the counselor would focus the parents' attention on their own marriage, for example.

Families operate like a string
Aug 09, 2008 Larry rated it liked it
Friedman develops the concept of the overachiever or overfunctioner among religious care givers. The author points out that many pastors (and the like) take on a role in which he/she is only valued if he/she performs a certain role. As such, we behave responsibly, but take on so much extra responsibility that we rob others of the opportunity to exercise normal responsibility. We micromanage, and the people around us become underfunctioners. Overfunctioners essentially believe (usually ...more
Sep 17, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it
This book was my formal introduction to family therapy. I say formal, because I've read of certain concepts in other books, and my own life over the past few years has been an exploration of systems and how to understand yourself within them.

For most people, a quick read of the basic concepts will get you thinking, and hopefully, invite a paradigm shift when it comes to understanding yourself and others who are operating within a system. I have a feeling there are other texts out there that will
Apr 23, 2014 Douglas rated it liked it
I first read this book in 1985 when I was a young seminary professor. Re-reading it now helps me understand why it has become something of a classic in psychology of religion. Friedman's point is actually quite basic: The emotional and relational function of religious congregations is the same as it is for nuclear and extended families, so assessing the family system in play will provide insight and guidance in dealing with dissonant issues and problems. This isn't the only way to "interpret" ...more
Aug 26, 2012 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
I used to classify some books that were key to my thinking and development as "life-changers"; as in, "this book will change your life."
Having failed too many times to carry through the life-changing ramifications of certain books, I now just say that such books *would* change your life
if they were intelligently read and faithfully applied over time.
"Generation to Generation" is such a book.
Yes, it's long, somewhat repetitive, and Friedman can be over the top; but his application of family sy
Apr 21, 2010 Eileen rated it really liked it
Shelves: emo-health
I learned about the destructive power of triangles in relationships, and how to get out of them. I learned how relationships most always exist within a social system, whether its a family, a congregation, the workplace, even the nation and the world. And I learned how strongly these systems affect individual relationships, especially when we are unaware of them. I also learned about the freeing power of self-differentiation. This book was a real eye-opener for me.
Mar 19, 2012 John rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pastors, Teacher, Family members
Recommended to John by: A doctor in Mineapolis
This is a book I read some time ago. It is one that I think taking the time to re-read would be helpful. There is so much information and knowledge that I just can't seem to get my mind around. I will put this on the to-read list once again.
Nov 12, 2010 Pete rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended. I heard Rabbi Friedman when he spoke in Austin. This book was enlightening in applying the principles of Murray Bowen ("Family Evaluation") to the arena of church and synagogue (and probably ashram,mosque,monastery etc. as well).
Mar 20, 2012 carl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is really *the* text on these relations and how they affect group and family dynamics. Really excellent if lengthy and dense. Friedman speaks as a rabbi and a counselor and shares his collected insights from his many years of work.
Feb 02, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
A classic text on applying family systems theory to working with churches and temples. It's the sort of book where you can figure out why the church busybody bothers you so much (she reminds you of your mother).
Pastor Ben
Jan 28, 2015 Pastor Ben rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book that gets recommended all the time in clergy circles, but it took me awhile to follow through and read it. I thought it was fascinating and potentially very fruitful.
Tom Pasmore
Mar 18, 2015 Tom Pasmore rated it it was amazing
One of the best pastoral counseling books that I have ever read. It helps get at the anxiety below the surface behavior.
Bob Griffin
Apr 26, 2010 Bob Griffin rated it really liked it
A great understanding and practical appliction of the family systems theory. I learn a lot from this book regarding family and congregational dynamics. A great read for every clergy and counselor.
Mar 03, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing
Am currently re-reading the Chapter Ten - on Leaving and Entering a Congregation. Great book for pastors who have not yet added this to their shelf and it is available in e form now.
Mar 07, 2011 Dlwise rated it it was amazing
This is a very helpful resource for clergy trying to deal with drama in the church and why it happens.
Jul 13, 2012 Alexis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for Fordham - incredibly insightful - I can imagine I will revisit it for reference in the future.
Heidi Kvanli
Heidi Kvanli rated it really liked it
Jan 19, 2013
Emily Labrecque
Emily Labrecque rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2015
Jim rated it it was amazing
Sep 12, 2012
Stephen London
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Aug 11, 2008
Rasheda rated it liked it
Mar 18, 2012
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Nov 11, 2012
Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly rated it it was amazing
Jul 29, 2011
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“the extent we function and grow within the context of our own souls (a lifetime project) and abet the emergence of our own selves (by a willingness to face life's challenges and oneself), our spirituality and our tradition will spring naturally from our being.” 0 likes
“Indeed, a funeral can give a subsequent event new importance for the entire family because the newly celebrated individual becomes the replacement for the family member who has just died.” 0 likes
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