When Death Comes
William G. justice, Broadman, 1982, 95 pages, $3.50. Reviewed by Lawrence R. Yeagley, chaplain, Fort Worth, Texas.
William Justice keeps his promise to address the concrete, specific needs of the grieving in a practical and understandable way. The entire book is based on his long years of contact with grieving people in a hospital setting. It is refreshingly readable and helpful.
The author admirably advocates a team approach to meeting the needs of the grieving. A team effort is not unusual in the hospital setting, but rarely do we see it operating in the church setting. Now the pastor can read a small book and feel prepared to put a team together.
Justice is aware that many people leave the church within six months after a death in the family and that a large share of the people admitted to psychiatric facilities are suffering from unresolved grief. He eloquently points out how the pastor and his team can make that first hour of grief a time of beginning adjustment and leads the reader into a support technique that extends into the years following a death in the family.
The question "What do I say when I visit right after a death?" is not avoided by Justice. He gives you things to say that really make sense. He also steers you away from self-centered comments such as "I don't know what to say" or "I'm sorry."
Finally an author has spoken to the needs of children who are grieving. Justice treats this area very well.
The day is long gone when a minister can meet all the needs of all the grieving people in a parish. It is the responsibility of the church as a healing community. This book gives more than lip service to this concept; it makes it workable.
William D. Thompson, Abingdon, 1981, 128pages, $4.95. Reviewed by Norman A. Yeager, pastor, Plymouth, Michigan.
Preaching Biblically is one of the Abingdon Preacher's Library. Thompson's challenge to preachers is to take the Written Word and make it speak to today's need. In accomplishing this task he shows the urgency of using all of the skills of exegesis and interpretation.
The major contribution of this book is the dyadic model the author uses to illustrate the way the sermon can meet people's needs today. Basic to the model is the central controlling idea from the Scripture passage. The model outlines the need of the people at the time the Biblical message was first presented, God's nature and activity, the response of the people to the message. The mirror image, of course, deals with the need of the people now, the nature and activity of God, and the response of the people today.
Beginning with exegesis, which rests, according to the author, on the triad of literary, historical, and theological exegesis, the preacher is then ready to interpret the text for today's world. This interpretation comes from the various rules, or steps, of the traditional hermeneutical procedures; however, Thompson sees them not as steps or rules, but as principles.
Music in Your Church
William C. Hunter, Judson Press, 1981, 112 pages, $4.50. Reviewed by Merle Whitney, pastor, Takoma Park, Maryland.
Don't expect theological or musical depth in this book, but the instructions noted, the outline of a yearly program, and its definite applicability to even small congregations make it a helpful tool for the pastor to use and share. Since "a good music leader is to a church what a superior athlete is to a team" (p. 27), you may want to incorporate this guidebook in your leadership training.
Chapters are devoted to the responsibilities of the pastor for church music, the music committee, the choir director, and the choir members. Perhaps the most valuable, feature of the book is the summary outlines concluding these four chapters. Another chapter gives good guidance for youth and children's choirs. If, as is often the case, your choir needs instruction in the rudiments of music, the last part of this guide has the minimum essentials for a short class.
Legal Issues In the Practice of Ministry
Lindell L. Gumper, Psychological Studies, 6785TelegraphRoad, Birmingham, Michigan 48010, 95 pages, $11.00. Reviewed fry Robert Nixon, attorney, Takoma Park, Maryland.
As the author predicts, this book may irritate lawyers with its frequent lack of citations, but for ministers uneducated in the law it will be a welcome introduction into such perplexing religio-legal problems as professional negligence or malpractice, intentional torts (libel, slander, breach of confidence, etcetera), and contractual obligations.
Gumper also delves into clergy-penitent privilege and concludes that in many States it is "less definite and more complex than many clergy believe." Conveniently, Appendix A lists the statutes of most States as of 1980." Gumper concludes with helpful suggestions about what to do when a subpoena comes, how to deal with an attorney, preparing to testify, and what happens in court.