Christian Books

Friday, February 4, 2011

Spirituality and Pastoral Care by Kenneth Leech

Spirituality and Pastoral Care
Kenneth Leech
Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1989
149 pages

Rating: 8 out of 10

Quick Summary: Kenneth Leech is a retired Anglican priest who has written two modern classics on Christian spirituality, Soul Friend and True Prayer, which I hope to review at a later time.  He draws on his many years of research into the history of Christian spirituality and of experience as a priest to call pastors to the ministry of spiritual direction as a focus of pastoral care.  He covers the foundations of spirituality, spiritual direction, and the practice of spirituality in ministry.  I appreciate Leech’s broad approach which includes both the social as well as the individual implications of the Gospel.
  In part one, he presents the Word of God, silence, and struggle as the foundations of spirituality.  In part two, he works to distinguish spiritual direction and set it in the context of pastoral ministry.  Lastly, he gives four examples of spirituality in ministry from priests that he has known and sums up the lessons from their lives for us today.  Frankly, I laughed until I cried when I was reading chapter 10 on Hugh Maycock.  Its’ description fit someone that I know very personally.

Evangelical Assessment: Leech, as well as some other mainline Anglican authors, often defies description for me.  I would not consider Leech an evangelical in part because of his tirade against fundamentalists in the United States, yet he seems very orthodox in many respects.  I would hazard a guess that he does not hold to the supreme authority of Scripture, but he says that our spirituality must be formed by Scripture and suggests a formational way of reading Scripture.  He upholds a Christ-centered and Spirit-empowered approach to spirituality and is historically and theologically informed.  In addition, he speaks prophetically to our individualistic, evangelical perspective with the social implications of the Kingdom of God and the incarnation on pastoral care.  He desires to move pastoral formation and pastoral care back to a spiritual focus instead of the all too prevalent evangelical CEO/managerial or the liberal pastoral counselor models.  There is much to commend Leech’s book to evangelicals.

Who might this book interest? This book would interest pastors who desire to recover a truly spiritual focus for their pastoral ministry.


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