Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Ministering to Problem People in Your Church (What to Do With Well-Intentioned Dragons) by Marshall Shelley
The book Ministering to Problem People in Your Church by Marshall Shelley was written primarily for pastors and others in full-time ministry. It's filled with real life stories of struggles that happen within the church, and aims to help those in ministry cope with difficult situations in a manner that leaves no room for bitterness.
At least, that's what I choose to believe this book is aiming to accomplish. Of course I knew from the title alone that this was not going to be an easy read. The subject matter is heart-breaking and could even be discouraging - but I expected that. What I didn't expect was to feel so "at-odds" with the author's demeanor toward the "problem people" whose "problems" are shared in the book. I do not think that they ought to be referred to as "dragons". Um, excuse me? Dragons? I thought it was a name that might fit those who were attempting to cause a church split or who weren't believers in Jesus Christ as Lord (those people do end up in our congregations, you know). But when I began to understand that the author lumped so many people into the "dragon" category, I found this book leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
Don't get me wrong - as someone who has been involved in ministry through the years, I understand that some people can be a bit "dragon-ish". But as I read this book, I seemed to be continually waiting for the other shoe to drop...and it really never did. One example cited tells the story of a pastor dealing with a church member who brought lots of "church issues" to his attention. Sure, she was wearying and a bit exaggerating, but when she came to him with facts this his own adult, married daughter was involved in a relationship with another married church member, and he still considered this woman a "dragon", well I just could not wrap my heart or head around this authors logic. That is outright, undeniable sin and the attitude in this book that somehow the person bringing the sin into the light was the bad person, the "dragon", just does not fit with the Word of God. The adultery is barely addressed; the difficult person who called out the sin was the focus. Pardon me for being so frank, but I'm thinking that the pastor should have been a whole lot more concerned about his daughter's spiritual state and the collateral damage inflicted upon two marriages and a whole lot less annoyed by this "dragon".
Can you tell how much I dislike the constant use of the term "dragon" in this book???
The gist of my review is based on more than that which was cited above. But I'll stop beating a dead horse. I tried to find some encouragement, some wise counsel, something to apply to the difficult situations those in ministry must face head-on...but anything of that nature was so overshadowed by stories like the one I referenced, it was just not possible for me to find any real use for this book. Maybe someone reading this review can use the book to help their ministry; I'm just one person sharing one opinion.
Here's a link to find it on Amazon.
On my "Page Turner Scale" of 1 to 5, I gave this book a 1. And that may be too generous.
Disclaimer ~ I received this book for free from Bethany House for review purposes.All opinions shared here are solely my own.
Day 290 done :)
Jan L. Burt