“Pastor, I need counseling. Can you help?”This is the question every pastor loves….and dreads. We love it because it gives us an opportunity to bring God’s Word in life-changing ways to needy souls. We dread it because we realize our limitations in the skillful use of God’s Word; and also because of the time-consuming, mind-scrambling, emotion-draining complexity of so many personal problems. There are so many challenging questions that surround these situations. What problems can I competently deal with? How do I distinguish between purely spiritual problems and others that have at least some physical dimension? Do I have the expertise to decide? Should I ask another pastor or professional for help and advice? At what point do I refer some of these issues to someone else – a financial adviser, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a family conflict specialist? Can I retain any control or supervision if I do refer? How do I encourage people to come to me with their problems, rather than turn to non-Christian “professionals” first? How do I assure my congregation that I will not harm them by attempting to deal with problems beyond my competence and experience? etc. Into the fray steps Danny Hyde, Th.M. graduate of PRTS, and church-planter/pastor of Oceanside United Reformed Church, Oceanside, California. In consultation with his elders, Danny has drawn up a document to guide him, his fellow-elders, and his congregation through the counseling minefield. You can download it here, or read it below. It is clear, courageous, caring, and wise – one of the best such statements I’ve come across – and I hope it can guide other pastors and congregations as they seek to shepherd their flocks in a troubled and complicated world. I’d be glad to hear your feedback on it, as I know Danny would too.
Danny Hyde is not only a pastor and church planter. He is the author of numerous books, including Welcome to a Reformed Church. He contributes to the Meet the Puritans blog and you can listen to his sermons here.