The (Lack Of) Counseling Pastor

George Barna quotes this ancient Chinese proverb:

"If your vision is for one year, plant wheat. If your vision is for a decade, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people."


What is the role of a pastor? Is he to be SuperChrisitan?

In a nationwide survey George Barna created a list of things that the church member expects pastors to do.
  • direct activity
  • encourage participants
  • supply resources
  • evaluate plans and progress
  • motivate participants
  • negotiate agreements
  • stategize
  • manage people
  • reinforce commitments
  • recruit necessary colleagues
  • communicate conditions, plans, and assignments
  • train new leaders
  • resolve conflicts
Things that I have noticed as other expectations for pastors are to be a good public speaker, have the ability to challenge through good lessons, be a good counselor, and be adept at confrontation.

The problem isn't the expectations; these things need to be done. The problem is that all of the expectations are placed upon one man rather than the church as a whole. Only a rare few humans are such gifted leaders that they can excel in all of the expectations listed above.

Hopefully, I would excel at motivting people around me with a clear vision to corporately and individually love the community they live in. Hopefully, I would adequately train up leaders to preach, teach, and do all the other tasks of ministry. However, I probably won't be in the top ten list of "who is the best counselor" at any church I am ever at. I'm just not good at it, and it scares me at how many pastors try to be good at it that aren't. I hope, and am pretty confident, that a pastor doesn't need to be gifted in every area of church function in order to be a good pastor.

(On a side note: I think it would be great for a church that could afford it to have a paid counselor on staff to provide free counseling to anyone in the community who needed it. This was the first paid staff position I wanted to create in the house churches once they reached about 10 or so churches. That way it would not be financially straining on the individual church's ability to financially love those around them in need. The world views counseling as a loving action, so we would be showing the love of Christ through meeting an actual need. Being a counselor is more of a professionalized role, while being a minister doesn't really need to be all that professionalized. Anyone can be a pastor if God has called them to it. Same with counselors, but with them you need to have education and certification.)

Take counseling for instance, here is what I would do. I would find out the expert empathizers (because a lot of the time people don't want advice - they just want people to listen to their problems) and counselors in my church. I would find out which of them would be willing and when they would be able to meet with people to counsel them. It would be more of just friends getting together to talk with one another rather than professional counseling, something most pastors aren't trained to give anyway.

A healthy church would have most individual's needs met before the need reaches the point of counseling in the first place. The individuals would be involved in small groups. They would have close friends that they could share their souls with. The walls of isolation would be torn down and people could really be who they are, all their flaws and everything. Too often our solitude prevents us from receiving proper healing from our mental ailments. A healthy church would come with healthy relationships that would fix a lot of the mental problems before they even became problems.

So what happens when I don't reach the healthy church ideal or the lay counseling is not effective. Why, I will have a number of a professional licensed counselor at the helm. If the people can't afford the counseling, I hope I would have been effective enough at teaching the church to be loving and have the church pay for the counseling.

When you're looking for Superman to run your church, remember that Superman was an alien. He wasn't human.

Watch out for the potholes.