"The books I most wished I had 30 years ago!"

By Jim Lacy - Converge MidAmerica Associate, Michigan

Two of the most insightful ministry books providing help to ministry leaders are The Emotionally Healthy Church (2003- Zondervan) and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (2006- Thomas Nelson) both by Pastor Peter Scazzero.

In 2005 a friend from Converge (then the BGC) gave me a copy of The Emotionally Healthy Church.  It immediately became one of my “best reads.”   Peter Scazzero, who pastors New Life Fellowship (a flagship congregation for an association of churches) in New York City shares his story of moving from a dysfunctional background to increasing emotional health.  In fact he makes the case that the missing link in discipleship is Biblically dealing with
emotional health.

Think of a church board meeting with 8 leaders, all of whom bring their own emotional baggage to the meeting.  All may look well on the surface, but life is like an iceberg— 90% of life is “under the surface.”  No wonder church boards struggle with unity and setting vision!

Every Christian leader must look beneath the surface of his/her life in order to break the power of past wounds.  We all need to learn to live in brokenness and vulnerability.  And we need to model this as a part of Christian discipleship.

The stories, the many references, and the strategy for discipleship in the book make this a rich resource for seeing lives changed. (Note: Several years ago the original book was updated and expanded).

Dr. Scazzero’s follow-up book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, is based on the thought that “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”  My copy is marked in dozens of places such as the following quotes…

“How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?  ‘Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know Thee’.”  -Augustine, AD 400 in Confessions

“Our wisdom… consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.  But as these are connected by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two parts precedes and gives birth to the other.”  -John Calvin, AD 1530 in Institutes

This book is not modern “psycho-babble,” but a practical and Biblical approach to spiritual growth through recognizing unhealthy emotions and enlarging the soul through healthy patterns of spirituality.


Church Plant Articles, Church Health Training, Jim Lacy