Book study to address complex emotional landscape of family systems in churches

By Jen Jensen

“And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’” (Mark 3:34-35).

Jesus radically reorients our perspective on family by reframing the Christian family as those who do the will of God. Yet as the church we continue to exhibit all the faults and foibles of human families. Learning how to navigate the dynamic landscape of family systems as they apply to the Christian community can help church leaders engage with more compassion and understanding.

Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church is hosting a 10-week discussion centered on the book How Your 21st Century Church Family Works by Peter Steinke. Based on Family Systems Theory pioneered by Murray Bowen and further developed and applied in the religious context by Edwin Friedman, Steinke discusses emotional systems, anxiety, generational transfer, and the forces that draw us together and keep us apart.

Learning to navigate the complex emotional landscape of our church families can contribute to a more vital and healthy pastoral ministry. The discussion will be facilitated by John Fillmore, a “circuit rider” with Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church. Continuing education credit will be available for participants and books are provided to participants. Registration is required and group size is limited so sign up soon!

Sessions will be at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) on Tuesdays beginning on June 14 through Aug. 23, not meeting the week of Annual Conference. Please contact with questions. Register at

— Jen Jensen is program manager for Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church, a program of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry. Find out more at


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