Editorial Reviews

“Blending biblical and psychological insight, Plass and Cofield offer guidance on building (or rebuilding) our relational capacities, while sharing the good news that we worship an inherently relational God.”  Christianity Today, September 2014

“I am delighted that Rich has (at long last) put his considerable wisdom into a book. His understanding of relationships has brought me significant help. Rich and Jim call themselves ‘wounded writers.’ As such they are the best kind of guides for teaching us about vulnerability and connection. Their biblical and psychological integration creates hope for wholeness and health.”  Adele Calhoun, author of The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook and Invitations from God

“Our souls long for the help offered in these pages: learning how to connect the dots for developing an integrated and permeable soul based on our truest relationship with the triune God of love and a deeply trusting quality of relationships with others. I highly recommend reading and reflecting on this life-giving content offered by two trustworthy professionals. You will dog-ear many pages to reference in your personal journey toward genuine transformation.”  Stephen Macchia, president of Leadership Transformations, author of Crafting a Rule of Life

The Relational Soul brings together concepts from psychology and spiritual formation to help readers engage in relationships in more life-giving ways.”  Light Magazine Canada, September 2014

“Plass and Cofield extend this insight to the church community, showing how it can be a source of spiritual healing. They also show how to be alone with God in a way that changes perspectives. . . . Recommended for pastoral counselors or anyone ministering to spiritually disconnected Christians.”  Gerald Wisz, CBA Retailers + Resources, September 2014

The Relational Soul is a practical book on spirituality, counseling, community, the long, difficult road of personal transformation, all grounded in a compelling Trinitarian theology. That’s a lot for anyone to accomplish in a single book, and the authors do it uncommonly well.”  Peter Leithart, First Things, August 18, 2014

“Richard Plass and James Cofield’s The Relational Soul is an engaging explication of the fact that as humans we are created in the image of a trinitarian God who exists in a loving, relational community. It is also a needed reminder of how people are both hurt and healed through the relational fabric of existence.”  Gary W. Moon, executive director of the Dallas Willard Center, Westmont College, and author of Apprenticeship with Jesus

The Relational Soul provides real insight into why relationships are so essential, and yet often so aching. Coauthors Plass and Cofield provide practical helps for self-discovery and communion with God that will deepen your relationships with God and others. Hope and help for healing is here!”  Mindy Caliguire, Willow Creek Association

“In a culture where keystrokes are being confused for relationships, Jim and Rich provide an insightful look at how God created us for real connection that begins with our souls. We have been the beneficiaries of wisdom, spiritual direction and relational clarity from a long friendship with Jim and Rich and are delighted to now have their wisdom captured in this book. If you long to grow in the art of self-care, deepened relationships with others and intimacy with God, this book is for you.”  Jeff and Lora Helton, coauthors of The Fifty Fridays Marriage Challenge

“I found Jim and Rich’s work in The Relational Soul to be both provocative and encouraging. It elicited a deep longing to know myself better and connect in life-giving relationships with others, especially God. Jim and Rich have awakened a desire for this ‘narrow way’ of profound relational connection. I’m grateful!  Dave Rodriguez, senior pastor, Grace Church, Noblesville, Indiana

Relational Soul teaches us how to be present to God and present to others—in our marriages, in our homes, in our ministries and in our entire lives. Plass and Cofield blaze a trail, not only for pastors and leaders who are beat-up and burned out, but for all followers of Christ to rediscover their first love. This book is an effective tool to help guide and direct us back to the soul-changing good news found in Jesus Christ. I’m personally thankful for these two gospel wizards, Plass and Cofield, and the gospel magic that they perform. Their fresh insights and encouragements are hope for us all.”  Daniel Montgomery, pastor, Sojourn Community Church

“You are holding in your hands more than a book. Richard Plass and James Cofield have given us a roadmap to help us find the way to each other and to the heart of God. Beautifully written, masterfully developed and applicable for those who want true community but have not tasted it yet, this book helps us find our way to each other in an age of isolation, loneliness and existence in silos where we survive but we do not thrive. Here’s to thriving!”  Stephen W. Smith, Potter’s Inn Ministry, author of The Lazarus Life

“Jim Cofield and Rich Plass are a gift to the church. These men and the content in this book were God’s means to save my life and ministry after severe burnout. Drawing on the riches of God’s common grace and special grace, The Relational Soul provides what is lacking in much of modern spiritual formation. Your soul will be better off if you take seriously the content of these pages.”  Harvey Turner, Living Stones Church, and network director of Acts 29 West

“What a joy to read this distillation of the union of two lifetimes of journeying with Christ into greater communion with God and others. Whether we are aware of it or not, we spend the early phase of our adulthood seeking to conform our worlds to the template of our earliest attachments and the self we became in those relationships. Rich and Jim have engagingly described how relational renewal in Christ can change that template, as we learn how to trust him to make us the kind of people who can receive it.”  Eric L. Johnson, Professor of Pastoral Care, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of Foundations for Soul Care

“There are far too many books, both secular and spiritual, for ‘coached’ living. Finally, Plass and Cofield have penned the needed depth in who and what we are to face ourselves before God—thus allowing God’s full, redemptive grace to be what it should in our relationships. The stories are real, the writing terse and piercing. My humble counsel is get it, read it, mark it up, use it and pass it on—if you can let it go—because you will want to refer to this time and time again. It’s that good.”  M. L. Hillard, senior vice president, Peter F. Drucker Academy, Beijing

Customer Reviews

I am nearly done with your book. I was going to wait to provide my thoughts until I was finished, but I felt the need to connect with you guys now. This book is pure gold. I just finished the chapter on community and I have underlined the majority of it and written comments in the columns such as “boom!” and “Yes this!” I have already recommended the book to several other people. I have read almost 50 books this year so far, and this may be the best of the bunch. Job well done.  Jason Kanz, PhD ABPP, Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology, Marshfield Clinic-Eau Claire Center

Very helpful in understanding how and why I interact with other people. And how to have better quality interaction. Not only with other people. But with God. Very excited about using this as a guide in Community Group.  Tim Shamblin

I have known Jim and Rich personally for the last 7 1/2 years and they not only teach this material but they live it. This book is a clear explanation of their practical theology of life change. And they’re not just philosophizing they have real battle scars of life. I plan to re-read it and re-read it again and I think it’s so good that I bought it for all of our leaders at our church to have a copy!  Kevin Wilson

We are broken in relationship and we are restored in relationship. Great book!  Michael Spalione

A great read. This book takes the weighty truths of the fall and the wonderful news of the gospel of Jesus and applies them to oft-asked question deep in our souls of “Who am I?” The authors turn to scripture, and paint a portrait of us as relational beings, created for and in relationships. With this basic identity, they explore the effects of a broken relationship with the Creator, but they also focus on what relational redemption looks like, both with God and with others.  Evan

This book is arguably the most important text I have read regarding spiritual health and leadership. It’s now mandatory reading for the leaders I raise up and has changed our organization for the long haul. The wisdom here comes from sitting in the front row of deep pain and incredible joy. That’s the kind of wisdom I want and the kind we all need.  Donald Zimmerman

I am a senior citizen and I read a lot of books. Even though I am older I still want and need to learn more about people. I began underlining special thoughts as I read this book. But I discovered that I needed to underline almost everything! It was that helpful to me. Get it and read it even if you think you know most everything about relationships!  Jean Smith

This is a book that I will immediately read again. Despite telling myself over and over again to slow down, some books are so stimulating, so helpful, that they’re hard to read slowly the first time through. But this is a book to read slowly and thoughtfully and I will do that . . . the second time through. One of the things I liked about the book is that, although I have studied the Enneagram for years and have read a number of the books they suggest for further reading, I struggle to synthesize it. The authors did that for me in this book. However, that’s not to suggest there is nothing original in the book. Quite to the contrary. I found myself continually highlighting a sentence here, an entire paragraph there, of insights, gems really, that I have never read anywhere else. I know I will be rereading and soaking in those comments in the months to come. The stories they tell of ones they’ve worked with, dear people struggling with significant issues but who find significant help, add so much to the book. As a counselor who loves spiritual direction and who is always thinking of and reading about how people change, I find this book an exceptional entry in furthering the conversation. I know it is going to be very helpful to me in my work with clients as well as, and especially in, my understanding and personal growth. You can be sure I will be recommending this book to others on my staff and the counselors I supervise. The questions at the end of each chapter are extremely helpful for personal understanding and growth as well as for teaching the book and using it in a small group or Sunday School class. If you want to understand your story, who you are and why you do the things you do, and the ways you struggle, read this book. If you want to clear away some things that get in the way of loving God and others more fully, read this book.  Charles E. Roberts

The Relational Soul is written beautifully with prose that speaks to the soul and rich theology that anchors the thoughts and ideas. The authors also do an excellent job of weaving the practical and applicable throughout each chapter. Rich and Jim’s definition and use of the phrase “false self” helps us understand our relational patterns, and they offer up tremendous encouragement and hope for those of us seeking a deeper intimacy with God and others.  Kathryne Oates

The Relational Soul has received good endorsements and press, so I wanted to check it out. The authors work together at CrossPoint Ministry, “a ministry designed to cultivate spiritual formation in the lives of leaders” — Richard Plass as a seasoned therapist and James Cofield as a spiritual director and retreat leader. They have a lot to offer about soul work with respect to our relationship with ourselves, with our families and the larger community, and with God. Their book does a good job of laying out psychological and theological basics. However, I admit that I felt a little bored for much of it, as if I was reading supplementary material (on attachment theory) for Psych 101 and later for Spirituality 101 (on spiritual disciplines), though maybe this was the authors’ and publisher’s intent. After all, every upcoming generation newly discovers relational dynamics. We were created as relational beings, communing with a creating and relational God. This side of paradise, things will not be perfect. But our fractured, isolated, lonely selves can be mended, bonded, fellowshipped (can I use that word?) as we understand and set aside our “false self” — marred by early-life mistrust and dysfunction, reinforced as we resort to the familiar emotional comforts to which we’ve always resorted — and walk toward healthy, trusting relationships, nurtured at the deep-soul level. Plass and Cofield deftly illustrate their teaching on finding “a life of trust, receptivity and love” — a definition of “true-self living” — with personal anecdotes from their own lives and others. I personally gravitated toward their chapter on community, noting a thought-provoking Dietrich Bonhoeffer (LIFE TOGETHER) quotation that distinguishes between one’s “dream of community” and “Christian community itself.” The person who loves the dream more than the reality “becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” Plass and Cofield admit several times that one doesn’t find wholeness in a book, though, of course, they commend reading as a catalyst for change. And where would we book lovers be if we weren’t looking for health and wholeness in the next book, on the next page, as I was when I picked up this volume?  Evelyn Bence

At the heart of who we are is a longing for connection and relationship. This longing is thwarted through our woundedness but it doesn’t go away. One of the joys of coming to Christ is being brought into relationship with the Trinity-Father, Son and Spirit. We are invited into the primal relationship! Our spiritual maturation involves us learning what it means to give and receive love, the way this God-in-relationship does. Richard Plass is the president and Jim Cofield is the the co-director of Crosspoint Ministry in Jeffersonville, Indiana. There they invest in the spiritual formation of leaders and in matters of soul care. Their approach to spiritual formation is biblical rooted, psychologically sensitive and historically informed. Their new book, The Relational Soul: Moving From the False Self to Deep Connection, explores the relationality at the core of our being, how unhealthy attachments cause us to act out from the false self and how our relationship with Christ enables us to move towards greater relational health and wholeness. While there are no formal `parts’ to this book, there is a natural division with a brief interlude between chapters one to six and chapters seven to ten. In the first section (chapters one through six), Plass and Cofield make the case that relationships and our longing for meaningful connection are central to how we learn to navigate our world. Our ability to form attachment in our families of origin (chapter two) and our emotional memories (chapter three) determine how we respond to the world around us. To the extent that we are wounded, and we are all wounded, we react out of our False Self (chapter four). The False Self keeps us from real relationship because it motivated out of a sense of self-protection. This cycle is broken in our life by the operation of grace as we enter into relationship with the Triune God-the God in relationship! (chapter five). It is through our relationship with God that we learn that relationship with God enables us to move from our `reactive False Self’ to the `Receptive True Self.’ While these first chapters lay the ground work for the movement of spiritual formation, the last four chapters focus on the practical aspects of spiritual formation and accompanying disciplines. Chapter seven examines the necessity of self understanding in the spiritual life, chapter eight the importance of community; chapter nine explores the core spiritual disciplines for engaging with God (i.e. solitude, silence, contemplative reading of Scripture, and contemplative prayer). The end goal is chapter ten: transformation-dying to the (false) self and being raised with Christ, being fully enabled to give and receive love. This is a phenomenal book full of rich insights on our fallen tendencies to protect ourselves from hurt, and thus cut ourselves off from true relationship. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus came to set us free to love and be loved. When we enter into the life and freedom that Christ brings, we enter into relationship with the Triune God and that changes everything. I really loved Plass and Cofield’s description of the process and their insights on how we are formed spiritually. The concepts in this book are not `new’ to me. I have had my own struggles against the false self and had to wrestle through ways in which I was relationally `shut down.’ My false self is buoyant and independent and holds others at bay. It took some loving and committed friends and mentors to help me confront the relational patterns which were keeping me from growing in my friendship with God and others. I can say experientially that the movements which Plass and Cofield describe are true. They also describe the journey I still need to take as I still strive toward greater wholeness and transformation. I highly recommend this book but I read it all wrong. I read it by myself and didn’t discuss it with anyone. I think this book is ideal to read together with others (i.e. in a small group, with a partner or with a mentor/discipler). This is a book that will spur on conversation and mutual self-exploration. This is a book which will help people move away from unhealthy patterns of relating toward deep relationship. The next time I read this book, I will not do it alone.  James R. V. Matichuk

This is a true 5-Star book — not because it’s full of totally new information, but because it distills spiritual truth and psychological reality in easily accessible language and is grounded in real-world experience with broken people. Is there really a need for another book about κοινωνία (koinonia; close mutual relationship)? Absolutely — if for no other reason than a reminder! People are increasingly alienating themselves from one another for all kinds of reasons, consciously and subconsciously: heartbreak, mental illness, spiritual oppression, laziness — and technology. But more than that, even those of us who stay in touch with the outside world have built up self-protective layers that prevent real relationship. The truth is, human beings weren’t created just for “relationship,” but for intimacy. In my ministry, I find that people have real difficulty being genuinely present to one another and not constantly being on their guard. Unfortunately, even spiritual/religious people tend to maintain that same posture toward God; we approach God with out guard up, surrounded by those self-protective layers that prevent us from being present to God and experiencing God’s presence with us — “with us,” “God with us,” “Immanuel,” especially in the form of His Holy Spirit, Whom He sent to be with us and in us (John 14:17). Because of this, believers are missing out on the abundance of “abundant life.” But this also has implications for eternal life: Jesus said, “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John17:3). The very first reality Jean Cauvin (John Calvin) addressed in his Institutes of the Christian Religion was the interrelation of the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves: “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God.” This book seeks help people attend to that foundational reality and does so in everyday language using stories from real-life. There really is nothing quite like it — a book that covers such deep terrain in fewer than 200 pages! The authors aren’t just recapitulating old teaching or editing into a single volume teaching from otherwise unconnected sources; this isn’t an encyclopedia or a compendium. The authors have profound and even provocative new insights of their own. This also isn’t an instruction manual; it’s a guide to help people find a way forward from alienation to integration and intimacy, not by working harder at it or trying to do things better, but by putting themselves in a place for God, the only One Who can make true and lasting change — transformation, to do His work. To that end, the authors spend plenty of time discussing how this is all related to the traditional Christian spiritual disciplines, but this isn’t a self-help book, either. Each chapter includes a short section for further reflection — and discussion. This book should be read and studied relationally! Pastor Scott

The authors communicated so well how our wounds in life keep us from having the close relationships we are meant to have with God and with others. My own personal struggles in life made more sense after reading this book and it gave me hope in how to handle them appropriately moving forward. I believe it is a great tool in assisting others with their pain and understanding what to do with it in order to better grow in all areas of their life. I will be planning to give this book as gifts to others and also as a Bible Study in my prayer group. It is a book that encourages me in my walk with God and more understanding of how His Word applies to every area (good and bad) of my life.  Donella

If you still want to keep whitewashing your tombs, then do not read this book. “The Relational Soul” is not for those wanting to curl up to a quick feel good page turner that does nothing to address the deep needs of the heart and soul that need desperate attention. If for now, you would rather delve into another glory hallelujah experience – then by all means do that – but buy this book anyway, put it on the shelf and then wait; maybe months, maybe even years until the normalcy and image you think you are maintaining in your mind, heart, and your relationships train wrecks. Then read this book and allow the surgery that is explained in the text to do its work. My advice is to not wait till that happens, throw away the band aid box and allow the guidance of this text bring you true healing. I only underline certain sentences and text in books that are worthy to be underlined. After reading the first two to three chapters of “The Relational Soul”, I thought to myself “ok, this is an underline worthy book” – so I started to reread the chapters, pen in hand. Authors Richard Plass and James Cofield carefully guide you, as if taking you by the hand in a large house and walking you step by step from one room to the next. They combine the wisdom of time tested psychology, the power of Christ, and the sometimes difficult but necessary infusion of spiritual disciplines. They truly build up to a final realistic crescendo at the last chapter. When I truly resonate with passages in a book, I not only underline sentences, but draw quick stars in the margin. The last chapter had so many stars drawn, the pages looked like I was painting a scene from the “Star Spangled Banner”! The book seems to target readers that are in full time Christian ministry. But it is also extremely beneficial for any lay person such as myself, who just simply takes this walk with God seriously. Following the guidelines of the pages of this text will prove to be a great critical journey for the burnt out (or soon to be burnt out) leader in the church or a struggling believer in a secular world.  Sinner Phil

I have read hundreds of books and this one goes to the front of line on explaining God’s intent in creating and enabling us to be intimate/relational with Him, our family, our friends and ourselves! The smooth flow of the writing style presents abstract themes in concrete terms, with real life stories vividly launching the concepts being taught. This is a must-read for all Christians, especially those in leadership. Thank you, writers!  Steve

Jim is my brother so this review of The Relational Soul is anchored with a dose of bias and a nose for honesty. I opened the book with pen in hand but soon realized that every sentence would need highlighting. No wasted paragraphs, words. What Rich and Jim give us is a map for applying scripture to our souls. The truths that I have heard all of my life were given a whole new road to travel, a road that has helped and will help me to come to grips with why I think, feel and act as I do. I understand more about my patterns of attachment, my memories and my perception of them and my strategies for dealing with my own disappointments. They helped me navigate issues of the soul in the way that scripture teaches and Jesus patterns. Now that I have read the book I want to read it again. It’s not long. But it is packed.  John