Beyond Church Walls: Cultivating a Culture of Care
ISBN 9781451490343 FORMAT Paperback PAGES 214 PUBLISHER Fortress Press PUBLICATION DATE April 2016
Pastoral care has been traditionally understood as pastoral acts administered to individuals or small groups by an ordained or lay religious practitioner. As congregations in the twenty-first century begin to reclaim the missional nature of church, this view must be broadened to include care and concern for the needs of the larger community. A missional perspective of pastoral care embraces the notion that all of God's people, not just trained professionals, are called to partner in the healing and redemption of the world.
In Beyond Church Walls, Rick Rouse sets out to articulate precisely what such an approach to pastoral care looks like—and the substantial impact it can have on congregations and communities. A skilled teacher and pastor with deep experience in real communities, Rouse leads readers through the changing realities of the twenty-first century and to new ways for missional churches to succeed in offering pastoral care for the whole community.
“Rick Rouse not only calls congregations to move into Christ's mission, he provides examples and strategies that really work! Discipleship is both an individual and community process that revitalizes Christ's church and Rouse provides a path for vital ministry.”
Book Review by Rev. Kevin Ruffcorn, Pastor of Desert Streams Lutheran Church, Surprise, AZ
"A book that I recently read was entitled, Beyond Church Walls by Rick Rouse (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2016). I can share my thoughts about the book in two words, “Great book!”
The Church is going through many changes as it faces a multitude of challenges presented by today’s culture. Business as usual doesn’t work anymore. With so many challenges to face and so many changes to make, many congregations are like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. They freeze. They don’t know whether they should go to the left, or to the right or to jump. Rouse’s book gives congregations a clear path to follow.
This book will not solve all of the changes and challenges that congregations face. That would probably take an entire library. It will help congregations, however, develop effective ministries for the people of their community that share God’s love and grace and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rouse’s book does this by 1): Getting the care of people off the backs of pastors and church staff and placing it in the lives of laity, and 2): Shifting the focus of the congregation’s ministry from inside the congregation to outside the church’s walls. Rouse shows the reader how this can be done.
The book shines in its practical approach to congregational ministry. Rouse shows how to reframe pastoral care, address the roadblocks to change, create caring communities and catch a vision for ministry. He draws from his years of service in ministry, and also from the real life experiences of congregations that are making effective changes and meeting the daunting challenges that they face.
Rouse’s book isn’t a hard read. It is interesting and it is motivating. I think this is an important book for pastors, congregational leaders and anyone interested in church and in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Review by Larry Ehren, Vice President, North American Association for the Catechumenate (NAAC)
“While not everyone can do great things, we all can do small things with great love.” -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
"The history of Christianity is full of turning points that grace has nurtured to be defining moments. Ponder with me these few that come to mind: The early days of a small Jewish sect who followed Christ gradually morphing into a church in the wider gentile world. The transition from being a persecuted minority faith community to being the state religion. The tension between Christians of the East and the West that led to the Great Schism. The list goes on, and continues daily. Each of these ‘crises moments’ called for unique developments in our shared journey of faith.
Rick Rouse, a wise and experienced ELCA pastor, ponders our current circumstance as the Christian church in North America. He reflects on what our core mission needs to be in our time and culture. Many have termed the present state of mainline Christian churches today as a crises. Over eight well crafted chapters, Rouse articulates and explores with practical strategies what a ‘discipleship community’ is called to and needs to be in response to this crises. He gently confronts our individualism, and widens the vision of church to be a caring community not only of other members but of the community it lives and breathes in. Echoes of the breaking in of the Reign of God reverberate in the pages of the text.
A wonderful feature of this resource is that does not simply lay out a well founded vision, stages of development, and techniques. Each chapter has process questions to use as a group or individual to allow the topic to deepen and apply to one’s context. Topics include: reframing pastoral care, the challenges of change, creating care communities, congregational community organizing, creating vision / strategies for a discipleship congregation and the power of ritual in communal events.
The vision laid out in Beyond the Church Walls begs to be integrated not only into practical congregational life, but also into the process of the Adult Catechumenate that exists within the congregation. What is at stake is the very meaning of being the Christian church in the twenty first century."