Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue” as Want to Read:
Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  563 ratings  ·  44 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 denominat ...more
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published July 19th 1985 by The Guilford Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Generation to Generation, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Generation to Generation

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  563 ratings  ·  44 reviews

Sort order
Jake McAtee
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you've never read Friedman, I wouldn't recommend this one first. It's not clear to me that he had an editor or at least a very engaged one. Nonetheless, having read other essays and books, this was great and expanded into areas I would have never guessed. It seems to me we are all unqualified to be humans.
Aaron Ventura
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book alongside Friedman’s “A Failure of Nerve” are must reads for any pastor or organization leader. Common grace on fire from this Rabbi. Insert “identity in Christ” for “differentiation” and you have the keys to the kingdom. Will put this on my annual re-read list.
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
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a helpful book! Assigned to me for one of my counseling classes. Still processing all that I have read and still have to write a response paper.

Each person is from a family system that greatly impacts and shapes that person, hence family systems approach to counseling or therapy.
John Sewell
Oct 25, 2014 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
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book contains many helpful insights. It is also contains content that is racist, sexist, and homophobic.
Oct 30, 2013 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.
Sean Nemecek
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book for pastors to read. Not an easy read. The first 2/3 of the book describes family systems and how they work. These chapters are essential to understanding the emotional systems in a congregation and in a pastors family (the last 1/3). Friedman helps clergy see how differentiation of self from the congregation is essential (being both separate but connected; neither withdrawn nor enmeshed/fused). It explains why a lot of church conflict isn't really about the pastor and ...more
Rev. Linda
A text for CPE - this is a re-read, as I encountered this book in my Ministry of Pastoral Care class - a must read for any pastor that does counseling ----from the publisher: 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 ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
While the author makes some helpful practical observations about families and leadership, his principles are based on the concept of natural evolution of the family. This social Darwinist approach certainly leaves much to be desired in addressing pastoral ministry; most especially lacking is a biblical foundation.
Brett Barnes
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great introduction to the importance of systems thinking and self differentiation within the family and congregational dynamics
Wayne Larson
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A real paradigm change.
David Blanchard
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremly eye opening. Very helpful and let me see how generational processes hhave impacted myself and my family.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I read a lot of books in between reading chapters in this one. It was interesting to see how family dynamics carry over to multiple facets in our lives.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is an excellent introduction to Family Systems Theory and will be a good resource for me in ministry. This is not a book to be read once, though, as the information is voluminous.
John Lucy
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
The first two chapters are wonderfully helpful. Friedman's explanation of family systems and process, as opposed to content issues and solutions, and the basic rules of triangles within the systems process, are well laid out and easily understandable.

Beyond that, however, Friedman gets a little scary and, honestly, it's hard to see beyond those bits. Look, there is no question that mental and spiritual health affect physical health. But to say that, by using family systems process, one might be
Jan 30, 2009 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
Larry Taylor
Aug 09, 2008 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 subconscio ...more
Sep 06, 2013 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 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" co ...more
Aug 22, 2012 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
David Ryan
Nov 22, 2016 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
Feb 11, 2010 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 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 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).
Apr 24, 2007 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.
Jun 21, 2007 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 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.
Steve Penner
My introduction to Family Systems theory. The first two chapters are worth the price of the book.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Technically I'm only half way through it, but its going back on the shelf for the near future.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems
  • Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision for Discipleship and Life Together
  • Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development
  • Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church
  • Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
  • I Am a Follower: The Way, Truth, and Life of Following Jesus
  • Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power
  • Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership and Congregational Life (Creative Pastoral Care & Counseling)
  • An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical Global Perspectives
  • Practicing His Presence
  • Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People
  • Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve
  • Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life
  • In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life
  • The Seasons of a Man's Life
  • This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers
  • The Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups
  • Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World
“the ability to allow or even make room for reactivity in the other, without reciprocating, creates the best chance that both partners can go on to their next relationships with the least amount of emotional baggage.” 0 likes
“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
More quotes…