Recommended Reading


Augsburger, David. Conflict Mediation Across Cultures: Pathways and Patterns. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John  Knox Press, 1992. Pp. 310. 

 Focuses on the unique methods individual cultures use in resolving conflict – on the frequent need to modify our own assumptions about right and wrong ways of dealing with conflict when in another culture.

 Augsburger, David. Helping People Forgive. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1996. Pp. 180. 

 The complicated issues of Christian forgiveness and reconciliation and their real-world applications are explored from a variety of theological and theoretical perspectives.

 Bartel, Barry C. Let’s Talk: Communication Skills and Conflict Transformation. Newton, KS: Faith and Life Press, 1999. Pp. 80. 

 An excellent resource for senior high school and adult Christian education classes, this workbook’s ten chapters outline basic communication and conflict transformation skills. Includes a guide for leaders.

 Brubaker, David R. Promise and Peril. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2009. Pp. 169.

 Bringing the tools of organizational theory and research to the task of understanding the deeper dynamics of congregational conflict, this book explores the causes and effects of conflicts on a wide range of congregations.

 Fisher, Roger and Ury, William. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York,  NY: Penguin Books, 2011.  Pp. 204.

 A straightforward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting taken – and without getting nasty. Outlines the theory of interest-based bargaining.

 Kraybill, Ronald S., Evans, R. and Frazer Evans, A. Peace Skills: Manual for Community Mediators. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc., 2001. Pp. 137. 

 The book provides a foundation for a training workshop in conflict transformation, as well as offering additional reading for participants of such workshops. Beginning with the basics of conflict transformation, the core of the manual presents the various stages in the mediation process with clarity and some depth.

 Lederach, John Paul. Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2014. Pp. 190. 

 The author shares insight from years of work in international mediation and deep spiritual reflection on the task of reconciliation. From personal experiences and the biblical story, he finds God seeking reconciliation throughout history.

 Lederach, John Paul. The Little Book of Conflict Transformation. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2003. Pp. 74. 

 A clearly articulated statement that offers a hopeful and workable approach, laying out the vision for conflict transformation, as opposed to conflict resolution.

 Mock, Ron, editor. The Roleplay Book: 41 Hypothetical Situations. Akron, PA: Mennonite Conciliation Service, 1997. Pp. 123. 

 The Roleplay Book is a resource for trainers in mediation and other forms of conflict transformation. It provides a valuable resource for graduates of LMPC’s Mediation Skills Training Institute who want to keep their skills finely tuned.

 Schrock-Shenk, Carolyn and Ressler, Lawrence, editors. Making Peace With Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict        Transformation. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999. Pp. 198. 

 A practical guide to understanding and transforming conflict based on biblical and Anabaptist principles. Over twenty noted authors shaped by many experiences and cultures tell of lessons taught by walking conflict’s holy ground. Includes a chapter on Conflict in Congregations co-authored by Richard Blackburn, LMPC Executive Director.

 Smith, Kathleen S. Stilling the Storm: Worship and Congregational Leadership in Difficult Times. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2006. Pp. 229. 

 A book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the ways that worship intertwines with the life and health of a congregation explores the issue of worship in the context of three main types of difficulty congregations can face: times of crisis, transition, and conflict.

Hudson, Jill M. Evaluating Ministry: Principles and Processes for Clergy and Congregations. Washington D.C.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / Alban Books, 1992. Pp. 74. 

 Describes successful evaluation models, focusing on the need for pastoral and congregational evaluations.

 Mead, Loren B. A Change of Pastors. Washington, D.C.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / Alban Books, 2005. Pp. 100. 

 A revised and updated edition of Critical Moment in Ministry: A Change of Pastors, which suggests that the time of transition from one pastoral leader to the next pastor affords a unique opportunity for change of the congregation itself, not just of its pastor.

 Oswald, Roy M. New Beginnings: A Pastorate Start Up Workbook. Washington D.C.: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Books, 1989. Pp. 82. 

 Focuses on issues for pastors in new settings: role clarity, getting along with people, taking care of self, etc.

 White, Edward A. Saying Goodbye: A Time of Growth for Congregations and Pastors. Washington, DC: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Books, 1990. Pp. 114. 

 Stories and learnings from pastors in every stage of separation from a congregation, whether caused by a new call, a change of vocation, retirement, conflict, or the death of a church.

Boers, Arthur R. Never Call Them Jerks: Healthy Responses to Difficult Behavior. Washington D.C.: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Books, 1999. Pp. 147. 

 Presents an insightful and balanced view to the question of how to deal with difficult behavior in congregations.

 Bowen, Murray. Family Therapy in Clinical Practice. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 1985. Pp. 566. 

 Encompassing the breadth and depth of Dr. Murray Bowen’s contributions to the field of family therapy, this compilation of Dr. Bowen’s published articles gathers the development of his thinking into one volume.

  Bregman, Ona Cohn and Charles M. White. Bringing Systems Thinking to Life: Expanding the Horizons for Bowen Family Systems Theory. New York: Routledge and Taylor & Francis, 2011. Pp. 392. 

 Presents the diversity and breadth of Bowen theory applications in various relationship systems across a broad spectrum of professions, disciplines, cultures, and nations; provides three chapters of never-before-published material by Dr. Bowen.

 Creech, R. Robert.  Family Systems and Congregational Life: A Map for Ministry.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2019.  Pp. 226.

 Friedman, Edwin H. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York: Seabury Books, 2007. Pp. 160. 

 A polished edition of the book Friedman left incomplete at his death in 1996. Edited by Margaret Treadwell and Edward Beal, it offers ideas Friedman developed after publication of this well-known Generation to Generation.

 Friedman, Edwin H. Friedman’s Fables. New York: Guilford Press, 1990. Pp. 213. 

 Analogies in story form which look at family systems concepts in an entertaining way.

 Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue. New York:
Guilford Press, 1985. Pp. 319. 

 Provides an important family systems perspective on church dynamics. Sections focus on families within the congregation, the congregation as a system, and the clergy family.

 Friedman, Edwin H. The Myth of the Shiksa and Other Essays. New York: Seabury Books, 2008. Pp. 225. 

 A collection of Friedman’s essays that had been previously published in various journals or presented at various conferences, rich in wisdom and humor.

 Friedman, Edwin H. What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? New York: Seabury Books, 2009. Pp.185 

 A collection of writings – most previously unpublished – from the acclaimed writer, rabbi, and therapist regarding personal growth, development, and fulfillment.

 Galindo, Israel. The Hidden Lives of Congregations: Discerning Church Dynamics. Herndon, VA: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Bookss, 2006. Pp. 230. 

 Informed by family systems theory and grounded in a wide-ranging ecclesiological understanding, Galindo unpacks clearly the factors of congregational lifespan, size, spirituality, and identity and shows how these work together to form the congregation’s hidden life.

 Gerson, Randy and McGoldrick, Monica and Petry, Sueli. Genograms: Assessment and Intervention. New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, 1985. Pp. 380. 

 Widely used by both family therapists and all health care professionals, the genogram is a graphic way of organizing the mass of information gathered during a family assessment and finding patterns in the family system for more targeted treatment.

 Gilbert, Roberta M. Connecting with Our Children: Guiding Principles for Parents in a Troubled World. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999. Pp. 231. 

 Based on Bowen family systems theory, this book shows parents how to build healthy connections with children. Practical examples and stories illustrate familiar situations and concerns.

 Gilbert, Roberta M. Extraordinary Relationships: A New Way of Thinking About Human Interactions. Second Edition, Stephens City, VA. Leading Systems Press, 2017. Pp.262.

 This book is a blueprint to better relationships that tells how the principles of family systems theory can be used to enhance relationships in all arenas of live.

Herrington, J., Creech, R., and Taylor, T. The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003. Pp. 188. 

 Examines the functioning of churches and their leaders in light of family systems theory and biblical principles. Focuses on the challenges of doing – of taking principled action in the presence of relationship pressures.

 Kerr, Michael E.  Bowen Theory’s Secrets: Revealing the Hidden Life of Families.  New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2019.  Pp. 382

 Kerr, Michael E. and Bowen, Murray. Family Evaluation: An Approach Based on Bowen Theory. New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, 1988. Pp. 400. 

 Comprehensively presents Bowen’s principles for assessing families, enabling the family therapist to organize data and therapy decisions.

 Kerr, Michael E. One Family’s Story: A Primer on Bowen Theory. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown Family Center, 2003. Pp. 43. 

 Gives an overview of the eight basic concepts of Bowen family systems theory.

 McGoldrick, Monica. You Can Go Home Again. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, 1995. Pp. 329. 

 The author explains how the use of genograms (family trees) can bring to light a family’s history of suicide estrangement, alliance, or divorce, revealing intergenerational patterns that prove more than coincidental.

 Miller, Jeffrey A. The Anxious Organization: Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things. Miami, FL: Vinculum Press, 2019.  Pp. 219. 

 Provides an insight into workplace dynamics from a family systems perspective.

 Richardson, Ronald W. Becoming a Healthier Pastor: Family Systems Theory and the Pastor’s Own Family. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005. Pp. 150. 

 Provides an overview of Bowen family systems theory, while challenging pastors to do their own family of origin work, if they are to function effectively as leaders in the congregation.

 Richardson, Ronald W. Couples in Conflict: A Family Systems Approach to Marriage Counseling. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010. Pp. 249.

 A thorough and pastoral approach to Bowen family systems theory and its use in marital counseling; both practical and rich in theory.

 Richardson, Ronald W. Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership, and Congregational Life. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996. Pp. 184.

 Offers an understanding of how congregations function emotionally, as well as practical leadership ideas.

 Richardson, Ronald W. Polarization and the Church: Applying Bowen Family Systems Theory to Conflict and Change in Society and Congregational Life. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012. Pp. 161. 

 Using Bowen systems theory, discusses polarization in North American society, how a community can come together to solve its problems and how leaders can bring about positive change.

 Steinke, Peter L. A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope. Herndon, VA: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Books, 2010. Pp. 141. 

 The author explores the relationship between the challenges of change and our own responses to new ideas and experiences.

 Steinke, Peter L. Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What. Washington, D.C.: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Books, 2006. Pp. 154. 

 Suggests ways for leaders to remain calm in the face of anxiety, to be effective in difficult times.

 Steinke, Peter L. Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach. Washington, DC: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Books, 1996. Pp. 118.

 Helpful suggestions gleaned from family systems theory for stewardship of church systems. A theologically grounded guide to optimal congregational health in the service of the church’s life and mission.

 Steinke, Peter L. How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems. Washington, D.C.: Rowman & Littlefield / Alban Books, 1993. Pp. 196. 

 Examines the implications of family systems theory on congregational life and clergy-lay relationships.

 Steinke, Peter L.  Uproar: Calm Leadership in Anxious Times.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019.  Pp. 161.

 Titelman, Peter, editor. Differentiation of Self: Bowen Family Systems Theory Perspectives. New York; Routledge and Taylor & Francis, 2014. Pp. 398. 

 Assembles a stellar array of essays, by some of the top Bowen theory practitioners, illuminating a key concept of systems thinking.

 Williamson, Robert. Charting Self: A Beliefs Chart Curriculum for Adults. Woodridge, IL: LLC, 2007. Pp. 54. 

 An eight-session adult religious education course, Charting Self helps participants think about beliefs in a new way, and to consider whether any of their religious beliefs have been attractive primarily due to their “relationship function.”

 Williamson, Robert. Family Thoughts: Studies of the Function of Beliefs within the Family Unit. Woodridge, IL: 2014. Pp. 76. 

 Compilation of five papers that were published in two journals explores the theory of the family developed by Dr. Murray Bowen. The papers explore how beliefs—worldview, philosophies, values, goals, principles―although emerging in an individual brain, can be regarded as a product of the family unit that have a function for the family.

De León-Hartshorn, Iris, Miller Shearer, Tobin, and Shands Stoltzfus, Regina. Set Free: A Journey Toward Solidarity Against Racism. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001. Pp. 167. 

 Using story, analysis, and scriptural reflection, Set Free offers a valuable resource towards dismantling racism.

 Friesen, Duane K. and Schlabach, Gerald W., editors. At Peace and Unafraid: Public Order, Security, and the Wisdom of the Cross. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2005. Pp. 450. 

 Explores principles and practices to guide Christians living out Jesus’ way of nonviolent love in societies that often do not share their convictions.

 Girard, René. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001. Pp. 199. 

 A captivating presentation of the themes found in Girard’s other works – mimetic rivalry and contagion, the single victim mechanism and scapegoating – made accessible to the general reader.

 Kreider, Alan, Kreider, Eleanor, and Widjaja, Paulus. A Culture of Peace: God’s Vision for the Church. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2005. Pp. 205. 

 The authors suggest how to develop “peacemaking reflexes:” how churches “can learn to handle conflict well;” and how to cultivate vulnerability and humility, two essential “attitudes of peacemakers.”

  Roth, John D. Beliefs: Mennonite Faith and Practice. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2002. Pp.169. 

 The author surveys core elements of Anabaptist/Mennonite perspectives on theology, ecclesiology, and discipleship. This is an honest and helpful introduction to historic Anabaptist convictions and contemporary Mennonite understandings.

  Roth, John D. Choosing Against War: A Christian View. Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2002. Pp. 206. 

 A must-read for anyone concerned about the endless cycle of war and violence, the book presents the Christian pacifist position as a relevant and faithful response within the context of today’s world.

 Swartley, Willard M., editor. Violence Renounced: René Girard, Biblical Studies, and Peacemaking. Telford, PA: Pandora Press U.S., 2000. Pp. 343. 

 Girard’s theories point to a cycle of desire, rivalry, and violence directed at a scapegoat, and a kind of “peace.” The irresponsibility of this cycle is exposed in Christ’s Passion. The essays from a variety of scholars explore the biblical support for his views.

Gaede, Beth Ann, editor. When a Congregation is Betrayed: Responding to Clergy Misconduct Washington, DC: Alban Institute, 2006. Pp. 227. 

 Offers a compelling collection of essays from experts who have consulted, taught, or written about clergy misconduct. Written for the pastor who must follow in the wake of prior misconduct, the book is also helpful for denominational officials and lay leaders of congregations that have experienced the misconduct of a pastor.

To Order Books:

Call the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at 630-627-0507 for current prices. Payment with a credit card can be made at the time of the call. For a list of recommended and required reading, categorized by LMPC event, click HERE.