NACOS #1.01 – Introduction (11/2/20) David Kueker

Native American Course of Study (NACOS) – Congregational Care 323

Course Description: This course introduces students to practices of congregational care and the pastor’s responsibility in caregiving in a variety of situations. Readings, class experiences, prerecordings, movies, videos, and course assignments are designed to deepen the students’ appreciation for the collaborative ministries of the pastor and the congregation, with a particular focus on working with Native American persons.

David O Kueker – Focus: Recognizing and Responding to Unhealthy Patterns in Congregations; recognizing patterns in congregational life regarding grief, change, conflict and COVID.
Session: December 13, 1-4 pm.

This part of our course will consist of eight learning modules. The new module will appear every Monday after midnight.

It would have to be a very small congregation indeed for you to engage every single member in individual one-on-one therapy. Some individuals in crisis will need that one on one pastoral ministry.

Family systems therapy is based on Murray Bowen’s family systems theory, which holds that individuals are inseparable from their network of relationships…. Bowen’s theory suggests it is beneficial to address the structure and behavior of the broader relationship system, which he believed to play a part in the formation of character. According to Bowen, changes in behavior of one family member are likely to have an influence on the way the family functions over time. [1]

As with family therapy, congregational care can be provided to an entire congregation at once (worship), to subsystems of the congregational system gathered in small groups to make decisions (committees), to accomplish work (teams), to strengthen interpersonal relationships (fellowship) and to increase learning and understanding (classes and bible studies), or through ministry to their families and social networks.

The relationship with the pastor, the non-anxious presence of the pastor and the way the pastor communicates with a congregation in groups can have a significant positive caring impact upon all members of a congregation. As with family therapy, assistance offered to help the healthier members of the group to change will provide a boost to allow the health of all members of the group to improve. A rising tide lifts all boats. By recognizing patterns of unwellness in congregations, pastors can respond to conflict and problems as caring guides and also proactively prevent problems from growing worse.

It is necessary as the leader of a congregation to be capable to pastorally minister to groups of people and also to the entire congregation as a group. The first step in this ministry to groups of people is to recognize patterns of interaction that are unhealthy. This is a way of diagnosing a problem from noticing certain symptoms at work within the group and responding appropriately

Each topic for this part of the course will display in a separate blog post.
Each post will involve your reflecting on the post and connecting it to your personal or pastoral experience. There will be three or more learning experiences … typically a document to read on another website, a video on YouTube or a sermon to listen to in order to expand your understanding. Homework will involve you linking that idea with a person and/or experience from your own life or church experience, briefly telling their story and what you think you could do to minister to them. (Expect that your own culture and personal experience will provide insights to understand the situation, how to help in the situation, and to remain non-anxious, authentic and differentiated.)

You can share your homework with our class as a comment to the blog post, if you would like input from others.

NACOS #1.01
Introduction (This post.)

NACOS #1.02 <— click on this link to access
Recognizing grief patterns: William Wordman’s Four Tasks of Mourning.
Grief is an adaptation to unwanted change. How can we help congregations to adapt?

NACOS #1.03
NACOS #1.03 Worship as Pastoral Care (Monroe’s Mountain) – Available 11/9/20.
Worship as Pastoral Care
Persuasive preaching – creating empathy with Monroe’s Mountain preaching pattern.

NACOS #1.04
NACOS #1.04 Recognizing Reinforcing and Balancing Loops – Available (11/16/20)
Recognizing Reinforcing and Balancing Loops in a congregational system in conflict. – Peter Senge’s “Limits to Growth” Systems archetype.

NACOS #1.05
Recognizing the Diffusion of Innovations Adopter Framework (page 12-24)
How do congregations segment themselves related to a change? Understanding the five basic segments and their function in congregational differentiation.

NACOS #1.06
NACOS #1.06 Diffusion of Innovations: how it works – Available (11/23/20)
How to manage the innovation adoption process for the best results and minimum conflict as a system adapts to change.

NACOS #1.07
NACOS #1.07 Recognizing Differentiation vs Anxiety (Bowen, Friedman, Steinke) – Available 11/30/20
Recognizing and addressing congregational anxiety using tools from family systems theory. Many congregations function like extended families. Some of these function like a dysfunctional family.

NACOS #1.08
NACOS #1.08 Recognizing The Karpmann Drama Triangle – Available 12/7/20
The drama triangle is a social model of human interaction between victims, persecutors and defenders. It is a very common pattern in dysfunctional families and organizations. Each triangle has a “payoff” for those playing it. The “antithesis” of a drama triangle lies in discovering how to deprive the actors of their payoff.


[1] Family Systems Therapy, from

Photo courtesy of NOAA.

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