Over the past few months I have been meeting with some of the men from our church family to discuss the book Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. This morning we discussed pastoral care. When most people hear the words “pastoral care” they get the picture of a vocational pastor, or professional, providing care for people in time of crisis. In most cases this is true – because we have let it come to that.
The problem with this picture is that the body of Christ, the church, should be involved in communal care and discipleship before a situation ever reaches ‘crisis mode.’ This is what Chester and Timmis call preventative care. More than that, pastoral care is the responsibility of the whole body of Christ, and it is done in the context of intimate community. In most cases people are pushed to the pastor or professional counselor rather than being discipled in the context of a intimate christian community. I would go as far as to argue that the only reason the “Christian Counseling” ministry exists is because the church is not functioning as it was created to function. Counseling and member care is the job of the church community.
I agree with Chester and Timmis fully when they argue that:
It is our conviction that the gospel word and the gospel community do not fail us when it comes to pastoral care. Together they provide a secure framework within which to approach pastoral issues…The Bible addresses the entire range of problems we experience in living in this world. Biblical truth is not limited to a narrow sphere of life, not to a limited range of beliefs or convictions. It addresses all the basic and essential issues of what it means to be human, both in our sin and in our salvation.
The best resources I have seen for counseling and care come through the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. These guys offer theologically solid, gospel centered resources for counseling and care. If you are looking to grow in your understanding of applying the gospel to the hard situations of life I would point you to the “Resources for Changing Lives” series from the CCEF. These are concise booklets that are about 20-25 pages each and provide a helpful introduction to problems that Christians faith. Here is a list of links to each of the topics they cover:
- Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Help for Extreme Mood Swings
- Breaking the Addictive Cycle: Deadly Obsessions or Simple Pleasures?
- Burned Out? Trusting God with Your “To-Do” List
- Chronic Pain: Living by Faith When Your Body Hurts
- Freedom from Resentment: Stopping Hurts from Turning Bitter
- Grief: Finding Hope Again
- Grieving a Suicide: Help for the Aftershock
- I Just Want to Die: Replacing Suicidal Thoughts with Hope
- I’m Exhausted: What to Do When You’re Always Tired
- Life Beyond Your Parents’ Mistakes: The Transforming Power of God’s Love
- Sexual Addiction: Freedom from Compulsive Behavior
- Sexual Assault: Healing Steps for Victims
- Temptation: Fighting the Urge
- Angry Children: Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control
- Conflict: A Redemptive Opportunity
- Divorce Recovery: Growing and Healing God’s Way
- Eating Disorders: The Quest for Thinness
- Facing Death with Hope: Living for What Lasts
- Family Feuds: How to Respond
- Forgiving Others: Joining Wisdom and Love
- Freedom from Guilt: Finding Release from Your Burdens
- Healing after Abortion: God’s Mercy Is for You
- Help for Stepfamilies: Avoiding the Pitfalls and Learning to Love
- Help for the Caregiver: Facing the Challenges with Understanding and Strength
- Help! My Spouse Committed Adultery: First Steps for Dealing with Betrayal
- Helping Your Adopted Child: Understanding Your Child’s Unique Identity
- How Do I Stop Losing It with My Kids
- How to Love Difficult People: Receiving and Sharing God’s Mercy
- It’s All About Me: The Problem with Masturbation
- Living with an Angry Spouse: Help for Victims of Abuse
- Peer Pressure: Recognizing the Warning Signs and Giving New Direction
- Recovering from Child Abuse: Healing and Hope for Victims
- Renewing Marital Intimacy: Closing the Gap Between You and Your Spouse
- Restoring Your Broken Marriage: Healing after Adultery
- Sex Before Marriage: How Far is Too Far?
- Should We Get Married? How to Evaluate Your Relationship
- Single and Lonely: Finding the Intimacy You Desire
- Single Parents: Daily Grace for the Hardest Job
- Starting Over: How Not to Screw Up Your Next Relationship
- When Bad Things Happen: Thoughtful Answers to Hard Questions
- When the Money Runs Out: Hope and Help for the Financially Stressed
- Who Does The Dishes? Decision Making in Marriage
- Who Should I Date? Relationship Advice for the Real World
- Asperger Syndrome
A great introduction to guide you in understanding the larger context of Christian counsel and care is Paul Tripp’s book:
Again, CCEF provides a wealth of resources in service of the church. Make good use of them, their vision is to “restore Christ to counseling, and counseling to the church.” – That’s you and I
2 thoughts on “Resources for Christian Counseling and Member Care”
The group (CCEF) is built on Jay Adams and Nouthetic (encouragement) Counseling. I think the blog lacks the balance of member giftedness using spiritual gifts to help the body of Christ, and the need for professionals trained to assist situations, relationships, brain chemistry, or organic defects. I would approach counseling as “both/and”. We need an excellent model for members to use spiritual gifts including encouragement (nouthetic counseling) to counsel (encourage) others, and with the knowledge base of when, where, and how to refer those who need professionals.
I use the example of the shade tree mechanic. The shade tree mechanic may have great skills in repair of an auto but he may happen upon a repair that is beyond his expertise. His options could include talking with other STM’s (shade tree mechanics) and/or referring to a Professional Engine/Transmission Mechanic (PETM). The former may help eventually through trial and error to fix the auto. The latter (PETM) may be able to repair the auto in a one or two hour consultation. So it is with Christian counseling. Yes, all believers are called to minister, some have gifts of the spirit which open wide the door of help to those with counseling needs, but some need professional help.
Balance the STM of counseling with PETM of counseling and we will bring healing to mind, heart, and soul in the body of Christ.
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