Fortress Press

Lay Pastoral Care: A Narrative Approach

Lay Pastoral Care

A Narrative Approach

Joretta L. Marshall (Author), Christie Cozad Neuger (Author)


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Care companions in congregations support others at multiple levels. They walk with people during challenging life situations, including death and grief; become prayer partners in moments of need; and are present in everyday moments of life. Sometimes care relationships arise through informal networks such as Sunday school classes or fellowship groups. Other times people are recruited and trained to become part of the caring ministry of a church.

Lay Pastoral Care: A Narrative Approach offers guidance for people across a spectrum of care. Using a model grounded in narrative and collaborative theories, Joretta L. Marshall and Christie Cozad Neuger describe key ideas and practices that inform lay care companioning. They also provide comprehensive curricular suggestions for training lay companions.

Marshall and Neuger build on a commitment to mutual learning, deepening spiritual growth, and collaborative support for people who wish to become care companions. Congregational leaders and members alike will discover that the recommended practices enhance the relational and spiritual lives of participating individuals and the congregation as a whole.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506474502
  • eBook ISBN 9781506474519
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 194
  • Publication Date November 1, 2022


"In Lay Pastoral Care: A Narrative Approach, Christie Cozad Neuger and Joretta Marshall use the narrative method to offer parish pastors a unique resource for reinvigorating lay­people's participation in congregational pastoral care. Drawing upon the insights of narrative therapy theory and collabora­tive learning, they create a model for training and overseeing lay caregiver networks that is guaranteed to stimulate and maintain interest and greater participation in the ministry of congregational pastoral care. This approach will be life­ giving and sustaining for both care companions and care seekers. As a seminary professor who teaches on lay pastoral care, I believe this book is a must­ read."

Raynard D. Smith, associate professor of pastoral care/pastoral theology, New Brunswick Theological Seminary

"Joretta Marshall and Christie Cozad Neuger have written a timely book. In consideration of current traumatic experiences and continual grief and loss, they recognize that the work of caring for God's people cannot be done alone. They write with passion, using the lens of narrative theory and conveying deep understanding of the spiritual significance of community engagement in the care of souls. Consistent with the narrative approach to communal care long used in African American pastoral care, Marshall and Neuger foster new under standings of collaborative learning communities. The authors provide practical tools and rituals that can be used in a variety of con­gregational and community settings. They recognize that lay spiritual caregiving is at the heart of the church. Partnering is important. Reciprocal involvement with congregational leaders and parishioners is essential. But more important, lay involvement is crucial, and educating and equipping lay­persons is vital. This book is indeed needed--for such a time as this."

Beverly R. Wallace, coauthor of African American Grief, associate professor of congregational and community care, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

"After contributing to pastoral care literature over many decades, Marshall and Neuger offer another exciting collabora­tion. Their new book on narrative lay pastoral care belongs in all pastoral care conversations in seminary classrooms, church lay leader trainings, and communities of faith seeking mutual support in a world that needs healing."

Mindy McGarrah Sharp, associate professor of practical theology and pastoral care, Columbia Theological Seminary, and author of Creating Resistances: Pastoral Care in a Postcolonial World (Brill, 2019) and Misunderstanding Stories: Toward a Postcolonial Pastoral Care (Pickwick, 2013)

"In these days of recovery from the unprecedented psychic stress of a global pandemic and the many isolations and adap­tations it has required of us all, combined with the spiraling demands for mental health services in a society longing for healing from divisions, the wisdom and experience Marshall and Neuger bring to the conversation about culturally compe­tent and spiritually relevant pastoral care for our time is needed now more than ever. Their reflections speak to our human con­dition and our need for coherence, connection, and hope."

Deb Patterson, United Church of Christ pastor, member of the Oregon State Senate, and author of The Essential Parish Nurse: ABCs for Congregational Health Ministry (Pilgrim, 2003)

"Deeply grounded in the authors' experiences developing and nurturing lay pastoral care ministry, Lay Pastoral Care: A Narrative Approach is a must­ read book for anyone who is com­mitted to cocreating life­ giving networks of care in congrega­tions. The most profound value of this book, which is rich in practical resources and tools, is the clarity of the theological and psychological convictions that situate lay pastoral care in the mission of the church. The text is animated by the authors' down­ to­ earth descriptions of the attitudes and choices that enable diverse expressions of lay pastoral­ care networks to grow and thrive. I hope this book will be required reading for all who are responsible to equip the priesthood of all believers for ministries of care in the congregation and in the world."

Kathleen D. (Kadi) Billman, John H. Tietjen Professor of Pastoral Ministry: Pastoral Theology, emerita, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

"Through all the years I have trained laypeople in the skills of pastoral care, this is the training resource I've been search­ing for! Rich in narrative theory, yet approachable to anyone wishing to develop their caring abilities, this book promises to transform congregations through a consultative empower­ment model of care that relies on the strengths and gifts of every person. It will be a welcomed gift to any community desiring to mobilize its members in skillful, caring response to the many precarities and vulnerabilities we face. I am eager to introduce this book to my own communities!"

Cody J. Sanders, American Baptist chaplain to Harvard University and author of A Brief Guide to Ministry with LGBTQIA Youth

"A gentle, wise, and generative book. It provides a practical way to nurture and sustain profound connections among con­gregants and in the broader community. Neuger and Marshall place laypeople at the heart of ministries of care, providing concrete resources for those who value empowering, collabo­rative relationships. An instant classic."

Duane R. Bidwell, professor of spiritual care and counseling, Claremont School of Theology