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Role Of Pastoral Counselling In The Churchs Ministry Religion Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

In this paper, I will be looking at the role of pastoral counselling in the church’s ministry of care. However, it is essential to state right from the beginning that it is in God’s interest that the church is cared for; to facilitate that, he has put in place mechanisms through which this should be done.

Of considerable significance, is that God has a loving and caring nature; this is epitomized by the way he dealt with his people – the Israelites through out the Old Testament times. Nonetheless, the striking sense of his loving and caring nature was impersonated in Jesus Christ his son whom he sent to save the world.

In his dealings with people and association with sinner and the outcasts; those whom the teachers of the law and the Pharisees did not regard, reveals the extent to which Jesus loved and cared. Needless to say, he knew no boundaries when it came to associating himself with people from all walks of life. Above all, his teachings and association with his disciples, does emphasize and magnify the importance of love and care through which pastoral counselling springs.

Therefore, in this paper, I will be looking at:

Jesus the good shepherd

Love

However, it is imperative that the above points does not exhaustively deal with our subject, nonetheless some grounds are covered in regard to our essay title.

Jesus the good shepherd

If we are to grasp the magnitude of the role of pastoral counselling in the church’s ministry of care today; it is imperative that we look at Jesus’ life and teachings. As a matter of fact, Jesus took upon himself the human nature – though divine, he was fully human. This implies that he fully identified himself with humanity, making it possible for him to touch the lives of all those he had an encounter with. Ostensibly, his ministry became so relevant to many, even to us to date.

According to Clinebell;

When people touched Jesus’ life, they experienced in him the healing power that comes from the openness to oneself, others, nature and God. They encountered a person whose life was a deep channel through which the source of all healing and growth – the loving spirit of God – flowed freely and fully. [1] 

Consequently, if pastoral care and counselling has to be considered effective in any sense, it must be based on Jesus’ ensample. Indeed, he stated that, ‘I am the good shepherd.’ (John 10:11). Herewith, the word shepherd carries with it a sense of protection, care, guidance and nurturing.

For that reason, all those who encountered him, even those that believed in him, to them he gave life in abundance. Thus, he said, ‘the words that I speak unto you, they are life and they are spirit’ (John 6:63). Moreover, he says that ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ (John 10:10b)

In point of fact, for any one to state that he or she has life in abundance, it must mean that that person has a sense of wholeness in him or herself. This is what all those who touched Jesus, experienced. In fact, their experience encompassed their whole being, that is, spirit, soul and body.

Thus, this should be the role and aim of any pastoral counselling in the church’s ministry of care and should be give a considerable amount of attention. Notwithstanding, any pastoral counselling and care that does not attain the above standards are wanting.

Clinebell, states that;

Pastoral care and counselling are valuable instruments by which the church stays relevant to human needs. They are ways of translating the good news into the “language of relationship,” – a language which allows the minister to communicate a healing message to persons struggling in alienation and despair. Pastoral counselling is an essential means by which a church is helped to be a lifesaving station not a club, a hospital and a garden of the spiritual life – not a museum [2] .

I absolutely agree with Clinebell; as a matter of fact, the early church proved its relevance to human needs. As stated earlier, those who had an encounter with Jesus – experienced wholeness in their lives, that is, their experience with Jesus encompassed their whole being – spirit, soul and body. Thus, the early church not only catered for the spiritual needs of its members but also for their physical needs. This contributed to the continued rejuvenation of their liveliness. Astoundingly, wholeness rejuvenates someone’s liveliness. Therefore, wholeness in individual members and in relationships is a vital ingredient through ‘which God’s love becomes an experienced reality.’ [3] 

In describing his mission, Jesus openly quoted prophet Isaiah’s words which states:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)

These show how God was concerned about our wholeness, thus by sending Jesus, people through him where and still are able to experience a new dimension in their status. The good news is proclaimed to them; in a sense, for one to proclaim good news to anyone – the recipient, may have been in ignorant of the news or may have never heard or known anything like it before.

Jesus was therefore able to speak a language that communicated a healing to people struggling in alienation and despair; this was part of his mission. In a wider scope, Jesus’ mission entails, restoring, delivering and reconciliation. Meaning that after touching him, one is able to see what he or she could not see before, do that which he or she could not do before etc.

Love

The role and aim of pastoral counselling in the church’s ministry of care involves ‘helping to heal people’s estrangement from their selves and their families, from the church members, from those outside the church and from an enlivening, growing relationship with God.’ [4] 

According to Clinebell, ‘Pastoral counselling is a reparative function needed when the growth of persons is seriously jeopardizes or blocked by crises.’ [5] 

Ostensibly, the pastor as a servant to whom the church is entrusted by God through his calling should be able to help liberate, empower and nurture such persons with am aim of bringing wholeness to the same.

In other words, the primary role of pastoral counselling and care is to ‘seek to enable healing and growth in all dimensions of human wholeness.’ [6] 

Nonetheless, having said the above, it is unambiguously important to state here that without love, the pastor can not achieve his mandate as a counsellor. This would hamper any meaningful counselling and care within the church setting, bearing in mind that ‘pastors are called to be enablers of spiritual wholeness throughout the life cycle.’ [7] And as Wayne E. Oates puts it, ‘counselling is ordinarily a formal relationship between a counsellor and a counselee. By formal, he means that the counselling is conducted within specific time limits and at a discreet and private place.’ [8] 

It is therefore, inevitable for a pastor to always exhibit God’s love in his counselling and care for those to whom he ministers.

Jay E. Adam says that ‘the Christian minister must be willing (and able) to assume the full task to which God has called him: that of ministering to men and women who suffer from the pains and miseries that stem from personal sins.’ [9] In all this, love is an important ingredient through which pastoral counselling in the church’s ministry of care can be effected.

Conclusion

As we have already discussed above, pastoral counselling in the church’s ministry of care, plays a vital role. It is through the same that the church is made relevant to the needs of people. This is so; because the minister of the church is able apply the counselling and care skills as a means of translating the good news into the “language of relationship,” – a language which allows the minister to communicate a healing message to persons struggling in alienation and despair [10] 

Jesus as the good shepherd had a mission which involved ‘seeking to enable healing and growth in all dimensions of human wholeness’ [11] . Equally, pastoral counselling and care are relevant in that they aim to seek healing and growth in all dimensions of church members. In other word, it is an essential means by which a church is helped to be a lifesaving station. Moreover, it is the means by which the church is helped to attain wholeness which in turn rejuvenates its liveliness.


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