Old Wine in New Skins
Centering Prayer and Systems Theory
Paul David Lawson
The Christian churches are currently in a time of great turmoil and transition. Clergy find themselves torn between a large number of different and often conflicting roles within their parishes. Episcopalian priest, Paul David Lawson, explores the depth of the crisis facing individual pastors and the churches as a whole, and shows how Centering Prayer (a daily meditative practice) and an understanding of systems theory (how structures within places work) can help.
By dealing honestly with anxiety individually and within the church community, by coping with conflict constructively and proactively, and by recognizing how organizations deal with unarticulated emotional issues stemming from their members and constituents, conscious practice of Centering Prayer can create a healthy church environment, dynamic and successful leadership within that church, and a revitalized and vibrant community worship.
Lawson's fresh contribution to the systems literature is his prescription for handling the anxiety that pervades any congregation, and can cripple a troubled one.
Because controlling runaway anxiety and reactivity is so crucial in congregations, especially very troubled or conflicted ones, the introduction of a specific spiritual practice to help the leaders do this is an important addition to the systems literature. This small book makes a valuable connection between one of the most significant theoretical understandings of church life, and a spiritual practice which is available to all of us who care about congregations.
Reviewed by Travis Du, 12 May 2002
Proposes centering prayer as a method of creating healthier environments in our parishes. Very good on the relational aspect of leadership, pointing out how "leaders and members mutually affect each other."