Fortress Press

Clear, Calm, and Connected: Reflections on Church Leadership

Clear, Calm, and Connected

Reflections on Church Leadership

Paul E. Walters (Author), Robert F. Holley (Author)


Clear, Calm, and Connected offers wisdom on leadership drawn from common ministry scenarios, family systems thinking, and Scripture. Paul E. Walters and Robert F. Holley, experienced pastors and long-time students of family systems theory, provide insights and tools to help ministry leaders--lay and ordained, as individuals and groups--view a congregation or organization and understand in fresh ways their own behavior, presence, and functioning.

Through accessible stories about familiar ministry situations, readers are introduced to key elements of family systems theory: self-differentiation, cut-off, triangles, family projection, multi-generational transmission, emotional process in society, and the nuclear family emotional system. As readers grow in their understanding of these concepts, they will be able to serve congregations more effectively and conduct their personal life with more grace.

Clear, Calm, and Connected is an excellent leadership training tool for boards, committees, or teams. Each chapter addresses one challenging issue, and chapters may be read in any order. Readers are encouraged to explore topics when anxiety is low, so when challenges arise and anxiety is higher, they have already practiced how to respond rather than react. It is an especially valuable resource for leaders working to discern mission, define roles, and respond to conflict.

Healthy Congregations 2020 Book of the Year

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506464756
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464763
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 159
  • Publication Date October 6, 2020


"Clear, Calm, and Connected offers new perspectives on congregational life using a lens and language drawn from the work of Rabbi Edwin Friedman. Applying seven of the eight concepts of Bowen theory, the resource is down to earth and practical. It offers exercises and questions to encourage mission, awareness, and observation in family and ministry settings. Walters and Holley deliver perspective on the process of focusing on self-awareness, strength, challenge, integrity, and purpose."
Emlyn A. Ott, Executive Director, Healthy Congregations, Inc., Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation
"In addition to making the application of family systems theory refreshingly accessible, Clear, Calm, and Collected ties each example and situation to the church's foundations--Scripture, our great heritage, and Jesus himself. The authors have provided a resource that church leaders will find both useful and compelling."
The Rev. David Delaney, Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Virginia Synod, ELCA
"An excellent resource for leaders interested in improving their presence and functioning and the functioning of their congregation for the sake of God's mission; full of helpful vignettes that clearly explain and demonstrate family systems concepts in real life situations. Use it with your whole leadership team for growth!"
Susan J. Briner, Bishop of the Southwestern Texas Synod, ELCA
"Church leaders are expected to be the nonanxious presence in the midst of crises, controversies and conundrums in church settings, and here is a helpful guide on how actually to accomplish this in real time. We are in good hands with two experienced, grounded pastors who are never afraid to name the areas where church leaders will benefit from careful reflection and new ways of responding to challenges."
Manisha Dostert, Senior Associate Rector, Christ Church Cranbrook
"Through thoughtful storytelling, Clear, Calm, and Connected makes family systems theory easy to understand and amazingly relatable to the context of ministry today. Grounded in knowing why our congregations exist, this resource for congregation leaders, especially boards and key staff, will help transform congregations into healthy systems that can focus on what is most important--sharing God's love with the world."
The Rev. Michael Ward, CFRE--Partner with GSB Fundraising
"Clear, Calm, and Connected is rooted in Scripture, pastoral experience, and a deep love for the church and the people in it. Pastors Walters and Holley write and sound like fellow practitioners who have thought hard and learned lots about a positive, effective, and practical approach to parish ministry."
Donald Kreiss, Bishop of the Southeast Michigan Synod, ELCA
"Walters and Holley have written a book the reach of which should extend much beyond the church. Remaining clear, calm, and connected, following the techniques cleanly and simply stated within these pages, helps foster a stronger bond in all relationships we have. This guide is a must-read for anyone in leadership."
Patricia Wheeler, Michigan Producer, The Moth