Book Reviews: Troubled Minds

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Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission by Amy Simpson (InterVarsity Press)

book amysimpson200A startling statistic might grab a church leader’s serious attention—about 25 percent of any community suffers from mental illness. Amy Simpson writes a powerful book from her personal experience, her study of the meaning of mental illness, and her belief churches need to rethink their care or lack of care to the mentally ill and their families.

More than one in four adults in our communities suffer with a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Simpson goes on to identify not only the person who is suffering, but also the family that must provide care, support and interventions when appropriate.

In America, mental illness covers rather a broad set of diagnoses. Simpson gives her readers a helpful, readable digest of mental illnesses. Well-researched and written in layman’s terms without oversimplifying, she helps bring readers up to speed about the topic and the issues.

Simpson not only is willing to share her story of growing up in a pastor’s home with a mother who was mentally ill, but also weaves into her narrative the struggles and experiences of others who are people of faith and some who are not. She provides examples of churches that could serve as models. These churches have decided to take up ministry to the mentally ill and their caregivers with the same compassion and love Christians pride themselves in giving to people whose lives are turned upside-down by tragedy or death.

Her book is insightful, compassionate and timely. It is a must read for leaders of churches.

Michael R. Chancellor, licensed professional counselor


I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference by Thom S. Rainer (B&H Publishing)

book rainer200The president and chief executive officer of Lifeway Christian Resources has written a concise, succinct and helpful book—six chapters and 79 pages—on the value of being a church member.

Rainer asks the reader to be a functioning church member and a unifying church member. He further asks readers not to be members who want their own personal preferences and desires, but who will pray for their church leaders and lead their families to be healthy church members. Basing church membership on 1 Corinthians 12, Rainer ends each chapter with study questions and a pledge to sign.

The book concludes with the statement that the universal and local church are not mutually exclusive. Rainer notes many of the New Testament books were written to local churches. He urges readers to consider their church membership as a gift. This book is an easy read but valuable for every church member and church leader. It would be a good resource to give to each family who become members of your church.

Skip Holman, minister of discipleship

Northeast Baptist Church

San Antonio

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