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Uncovering Spiritual Narratives: Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry
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Uncovering Spiritual Narratives: Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry


Fortress Press 2014

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


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 multi-layered narratives that are far more complex and liberating. Coyle contends 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, Coyle creates a contextual pastoral theology that helps caregivers find the power of God in people’s stories.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Emphasizes the spiritual significance of narratives
  • Provides steps in discovering someone’s spiritual narrative
  • Illustrates the liberating impact of spiritual narratives


  • Storying Spiritual Narratives
  • Voicing Narrative and Liberation Practices
  • Pastoral Caring through Spiritual Narratives
  • Narratively Ministering to Congregations and Communities
  • Storytelling as Spiritual Practice
  • Spiritual Narratives of Place
  • Epilogue: Future Storying of Spiritual Narratives
  • Appendix: Resources for Spiritual Narratives

Praise for the Print Edition

For Suzanne Coyle, personal stories are best connected to the narratives of larger collectives within society, where they encounter depth, breadth, critique, and liberative power. Her focus on contextual narrative resources is a much-needed addition to the conversation regarding narrative therapy and the potentially healing function of ‘story’ in religious leadership.

John S. McClure, Charles G. Finney Professor of Preaching and Worship, Vanderbilt Divinity School

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, John H. Tietjen Professor of Pastoral Ministry, 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, associate professor of Christian education, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

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, associate professor of practical theology, spiritual care, and counseling, Claremont School of Theology

Product Details

About Suzanne M. Coyle

Suzanne M. Coyle is associate professor of pastoral theology and marriage and family therapy at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. She received her doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary. She also completed a postgraduate diploma in narrative therapy and community work at the Dulwich Centre in Adelaide, South Australia.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition