Total Church 17: Pastoral Care – the efficient gospel community

This is part 17 of our series Total Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. Blame and credit for these posts must be shared by the Wednesday morning Total Church reading group:

One of the primary contentions of this book is that the “Life as it should be lived is life in community.”

Applying this to pastoral care: “Pastoral care in a Christian community is not merely one ‘therapy device’ among many.  It is the context in which any other pastoral care takes place.” (p131)

The main thought in this section is that much pastoral/Christian counselling takes place in a disengaged context – outside of Christian community.  Whilst recognizing the validity of the “professional” counsel – a healthy engagement with others within a Christian community will deal with the most issues and underlying causes.

What is needed is a wise, gifted, mature Christian who is able to apply the Gospel word to the relevant issue.

A further note – most pastoral care takes place in the context of ordinary life but we need to be intentional about encouraging and exhorting one another with the gospel. (p133)

A few thoughts:

a) We do not do this because we are worried we will break the golden (misunderstood) rule of our day “do not judge”.  As if applying the gospel to another’s life in love with encouragement, challenge or guidance is sin.

b) We are too busy – we are worried if we care for other we will be burdened, never get out of this, and cannot spare the time.  We actually confess that our lives are more important than people.

c) Conversely we do not ask for help because we are scared of burdening others – they are so busy!

d) These are damning statements because ultimately we do not help because we do not care!

e) It is easier to outsource to professionals – less of a burden to us.

f) We are scared we are going to mess it up.  Because we do not know our Bible.  We do not know how to apply the word to our lives.  We prefer the control of the professional rather than the dependance on the Holy Spirit.

g) The normative context for helping people deal with issues is in the Christian community.  It will grow not only the one in need but the entire group in the gospel and in caring for one another.

h) Having said that that there is a reality that people will feel more comfortable talking in depth with one or two from the community, than every week hashing out all the problems and emotions before the entire group. This is both right and more helpful.

~ by John on November 4, 2008.

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