Most Christian ministers take very seriously the call to preach the Gospel and to administer the sacraments. However, when it comes to equipping the saints, many are at a loss. The dictionary meaning for this term is "to supply with intellectual, emotional or spiritual essentials." It is derived from an old French word meaning "to put out to sea, to embark." The challenge for spiritual leaders in the twenty-first century is to equip the saints with multidimensional Christian education programs in spiritual formation, devotions, ethics, Bible study, community building, ritual experimentation, and reading the signs of the times for meaning. To set out on this sea of possibilities, clergy must be open and resilient leaders.
In the introduction to this paperback, Roy Oswald, a consultant to the Alban Institute for 26 years notes sadly that nearly 20 percent of clergy are severely burnt out and another 50 percent are bordering on burnout and already evidencing some of its dire effects. Rochelle Melander and Harold Eppley are Lutheran ministers in the ELCA. They have come up with a user-friendly compendium of resources, spiritual practices, psychological exercises, and rituals designed especially for spiritual leaders whose task it is to equip the saints.
The authors know that if we are to bring out the very best that is inside us, we must take the time to nurture ourselves. We cannot serve others when our wells run dry. The authors have tapped into a deep reservoir of resources that will restore and refresh body, mind and soul. The book is divided into six thematic areas with 52 weeks of exercises. The sections are: Creating a Life Vision, Caring for Yourself at Work, Nurturing Your Relationships, Caring for Your Physical and Material Needs, Caring for Your Spiritual and Intellectual Needs, and Sustaining a Life Vision.
There are a number of refreshing dimensions to this rich volume. Here are a few: Melander and Eppley are convinced that a holistic life engenders a vibrant and diverse ministry; they are alert to the importance and value of coaching as a national phenomenon; they do not slight the popular culture of movies, fiction, and other media; and they offer plenty of references to valuable websites. And best of all is their 32-page annotated list of resources in the Appendix.