To those of you who read or purchase this book, it may not be necessary to discuss what I see as the essential need for counseling ministry for the church. It may be like "preaching to the choir." Yet, I want to initially state some very basic tenets of faith regarding the ministry of counseling as a discipleship program for the local church.
The church today is not really all that different than the religious community to which Jesus ministered when he came to earth. It was made up of people with all different types of needs, problems, and life circumstances which affected their perceptions, motivations, beliefs, and behaviours. Jesus' ministry was spent primarily preaching, teaching, and healing those men and women who were the outcasts of the world (Mark 1:40). Of course, he continues to transform lives today.
There are important facts to remember about Jesus' ministry. Briefly, I will outline some here:
1. He was intimately involved with his world. Jesus deeply cared for the people to which He ministered. Even those who were totally unacceptable to the world were welcomed by Jesus (Mark 1:40). Much of our ministry as Pastoral Counselors, Family Therapists, Lay Counselors, or Christian Psychologists is spent with those precious, wonderful, less than desirable people that God, by his grace, sends our way.
2. Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth in love. He pulled no punches with the woman at the well, yet he spoke with such compassion, authority, tremendous insight and wisdom. As therapists, if we are tuned to the Holy Spirit and trained to listen effectively, we too can teach others to speak and know the truth which will "set them free."
3. Jesus was well trained for the task placed before him (Luke 2:52). There is no excuse for any of us to be less than well prepared, academically or spiritually for the work to which God has called us. We must be instant in season and out of season, as we touch the lives of others.
4. Jesus was other-oriented, unselfish, and had a tremendous sense of timing. He knew when to confront, when to be silent, when to teach and when to touch. We as Christian counselors must develop the "mind of Christ" in our response to the hurt and pain of others.
5. The purpose of Christ was to save people totally, which included healing for the total person and the making of disciples (Matthew 28:19). As disciples, we are to make other disciples who will come into the "fullness of Christ." To become conformed to the image of Christ by putting off the old nature, renewing the mind, and putting on the new self is both an event in Christ (positionally) and a process (Ephesians 4:22). As counselors, through our training in understanding the "heart" of man, and in our ability to bring understanding through the application of Biblical principles to the lives of members of the Body of Christ, we can assist in the pastoral function of creating growth and change. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who brings about this change. We are His hands extended.
6. Finally, Jesus was humbly submissive to his Father's authority. We must be willing to be in submission to the authority over us. Counseling is a valid, God-ordained ministry to and for the Body of Christ. Further, counseling is an expression of love to those who are yet to believe.
Meeting the needs of individuals and families in times of emotional and behavioral distress is a privilege for me. Prayerfully this book will assist many to develop center of care for the Body of Christ.
As is often the case with any book, I am writing my introduction to this book after its completion. I use the word "completion" loosely, in that we see our Healing Community concept to be just beginning. Nevertheless, even though this manuscript is merely foundational, it is a necessary first step. New insights and strategies will be added as they develop.
This book has been divided into five major sections. Section I describes the history, philosophy, program, and services which have proven to be highly effective forms of ministry in our local community. Every geographical area is different, and not all of the programs may be suitable for you. Each section can be taken and used as is or expanded to become program statements for public relations or ministry opportunities.
Section II, Policies and Procedures, is an important section for those of you who feel called to direct your own counseling ministry. Very few pastors/counselors are trained well in general administrative development, and it is important that your center operate in a smooth, administratively sound manner. This section will help you.
Public relations are so vitally important. Simply put, if the people to whom you want to minister do not know who, what, where, when, and about you, you'll never reach them. Public relations, which are discussed in detail in Section III, are a combination of planning and sales, mixed with prayer. This section may be the most important, as it will help you to develop a detailed plan of action for your ministry.
In Section IV, we continue with practical samples of public relations material that you are free to use. These helps will give you many ideas from which to grow.
Finally, Section V provides for you all the necessary clinical and sample administrative forms to be used to develop your counseling ministry. We do not believe in "re-creating the wheel." Therefore, we have provided sample paperwork to assist you in creating your Center.
This book has been a labor of love for its author. I pray that those of you who read and use this book will be blessed by it, and that many people to whom you minister will also be blessed.