Oswald, Running Through The Thistles


Roy Oswald, Running Through The Thistles: Terminating a Ministerial Relationship With a Parish. Alban Institute, 1978.

Referenced in: Ministry Transitions and Interim Ministry Summary

It is often said that once you have been with a church for a while, they will remember very little about how you begin your work, but they will remember everything about how you end. Running Through the Thistles has been a must read on this subject for thirty years. In this brief treatise (only 19 pages), Oswald presents a beautiful argument against the hurried, “full-speed-ahead,” “tell-em-and-get-out-of-Dodge” approach to ministry terminations. To the contrary, he likens leave-taking to a grieving process for both the church and minister. He discusses how to become open and candid with support persons about difficult emotions in order to avoid carrying unresolved feelings that make it difficult to become energized with a new ministry. He then gleans applicable insights from research on chaplains in transition and terminally ill patients, and from there discusses how to engage termination tasks and model closure for the congregation.

From the Publisher

Can how you leave a church affect your feelings about leaving or create “baggage” you take to your new congregation? Gain insight into termination styles and how they affect both you and your parishioners. Using real-life illustrations, Oswald guides you through Alban Institute research findings to help you prepare for a departure.

About the Author

Roy M. Oswald, a senior consultant with the Alban Institute, has provided leadership for hundreds of conferences and training events in the U.S. and Canada. A variety of denominations have called on him to focus on the pastoral role and the dynamics of parish leadership. He also frequently consults with local congregations and judicatories where his planning model utilizes norms, myths and meaning statements from a church’s past. Roy Oswald is identified with research into the transitions clergy make when they enter parishes for the first time and for clergy in longer pastorates. More recently he has headed studies of the candidacy process, leadership needs of small congregations, and new methodology for assessing ministries using clergy/lay teams. He is the co-author of other Alban titles, including Beginning Ministry Together (2003), Transforming Rituals (1999), Personality Type and Religious Leadership (1998), Discerning Your Congregation’s Future (1996), New Beginnings (1989), and The Inviting Church (1987).

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