Uncovering Spiritual Narratives

All cultures use story as a way to make sense of life experiences. Yet for many, particularly in the western world, only a single story line is seen as the “real truth.” Using narrative therapy as a caregiving approach can help individuals uncover multilayered narratives that are far more complex and liberating.

So contends Dr. Suzanne Coyle -- CTS Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Marriage and Family Therapy, Executive Director of the CTS Counseling Center and Director of Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Christian Theological Seminary – in her new book UNCOVERING SPIRITUAL NARRATIVES: Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry.

There, Dr. Coyle asserts that not only are these more complex narratives more helpful in giving our lives meaning, they also critique the cultural discourses in which they arose. Drawing on both theological approaches and real life experiences, she effectively creates a contextual pastoral theology that helps caregivers find the power of God in people’s stories.

And her peers have taken notice:

“Suzanne M. Coyle demonstrates how spiritual stories—individual and collective—create meanings and possibilities that lead to liberating action. Using qualitative research and contextual pedagogy, Coyle correlates narrative ministry with liberation theology to suggest that caregivers are ‘storytellers of hope.’ She places power, hope, and Spirit at the center of ministry and care. The book extends and enriches the ways that narrative therapy and narrative community work can benefit ministries of care and counseling, and Coyle’s emphasis on collective narrative practice—a recent intervention for communal trauma—brings a sophisticated new approach to pastoral theological theory and practice.”
Duane Bidwell
Claremont School of Theology

“I have been looking for a book that theologically explores how the theoretical convictions and key practices of narrative therapy—as well as the community work inspired by this approach—can invigorate not only pastoral care, but the whole of pastoral ministry. In this accessible volume, Suzanne Coyle has taken up this task, weaving together liberation theology, narrative therapy, collective narrative practice, and examples from actual ministry practice in her approach to fostering life-giving and hopeful spiritual narratives.”
Kathleen D. Billman
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

“Written in highly accessible language, Uncovering Spiritual Narratives breaks fresh new ground in the field of narrative approaches to pastoral care and congregational ministry. The author introduces a collective narrative approach, skillfully weaving insights drawn from the fields of spirituality, feminist and liberation theology, postmodern thought, and cutting edge narrative practice. Coyle demonstrates how her approach can help shape pastoral counseling, preaching, worship, spiritual guidance, and community ministries, and she provides concrete examples and practical guidance at each step along the way. Pastors, chaplains, seminary professors, students, community leaders, and spiritual guides stand to benefit from this book.”
Susanne Johnson
Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

UNCOVERING SPIRITUAL NARRATIVES: Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry, by Suzanne M. Coyle, arriving soon at the CTS Bookstore.

upcoming events

CTS Research Professor Rob Saler and Bishop Anne Henney-Byfield of the African Methodist Episcopal Church will host this discussion at First Mennonite Church, Indianapolis.

this film follows Monem Salam as he enrolls in flight school and draws the attention of the FBI. This comedy follows him as he works towards his goal, engaging his wife, family, and community in the process.

Sweeney Chapel at 7:00 PM. Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners will speak

CTS will host an Open House to showcase our degree offerings from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Join us for refreshments and an informal Q&A with faculty, staff and students to learn about their experiences.

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