Why would pastors send church members to a counselor? It’s such a great question.
Because Care to Change is a biblically based counseling practice, many pastors are comfortable referring church members who are in need of some extra help to us. That might surprise you, when you consider that many people assume that counseling is a key part of a pastor’s job. There are a couple of reasons pastors refer to us.
Pastors are often torn in many directions, because congregations place many demands on them. Like police officers and medical doctors, they’re generally considered to be on duty 24/7/365. They’re expected to attend most church events, be visible with every group or organization affiliated with the church, and accept invitations to events that are meaningful for individual members. In addition to their work at the pulpit, many pastors also oversee the finances and other business of running the church. Pastors of smaller churches often have to hold down second jobs just to make ends meet. For all these reasons, being able to find time to provide ongoing therapy isn’t easy.
Many pastors are not entirely comfortable with counseling people who are experiencing particularly challenging or complex situations. It isn’t that the pastors don’t care about their church members; it’s the most of their training involves doctrine, teaching and preaching, rather than providing individual therapy. They are familiar with mental health issues, but they may be less knowledgeable about the most effective processes for helping people return to strong mental and emotional health.
That’s why churches can establish a partnership agreement with Care to Change. Through this agreement, we block out a specified number of appointments each month for members of the congregation. That way, when the pastor refers a church member to Care to Change, he or she can be confident that the church member will be seen quickly, rather than having to be placed on the waiting list for some other counseling facility.
Those churches are familiar with our foundation in biblical principles, so they know that the counseling their members receive will be consistent with the theology of the church and the lessons taught from the pulpit. They recognize that we are all part of the body of Christ. As we’re taught in I Corinthians 12, we are all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body, and that body is made up of many parts. As Scripture explains, “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” When we work with pastors to help their members, the entire body of Christ benefits.