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Counseling Services
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The majority of congregations in all faiths do not provide counseling services for their own members or people in the community. Seventh-day Adventist local churches are markedly less likely to do so. This is surprising in view of the fact that more Americans report that they turn to their pastor or religious leaders for help with personal crises than go to mental health professionals.

Two out of five local religious groups provide counseling services, 24% directly and another 14% through a cooperative arrangement with another organization. Only one in five Adventist churches do so, 15% directly and another 6% in cooperation with another organization such as a para-church ministry or Christian counselor in private practice.

It is difficult to understand why more is not done to meet the needs that pastors report to be growing and widespread. Family conflicts, financial difficulties, addictions and mental illness account for the largest demand on the time of pastors, and most pastors say that they are not trained to provide therapy.

Discussion Questions:

1. Does our congregation provide counseling services or a “hot line” for our members or for the community?

2. What is the level of need among our members in terms of family conflicts, financial problems, drug and alcohol issues, domestic abuse and mental illness?

3. What is the level of need in our community?

4. Should we appoint an advisory group to assess the needs and develop a proposal for a counseling ministry of some kind?

For additional insight into trends within the Adventist Church, you need the Adventist Congregations Today book and CD-R.

Paul Richardson
Executive Director
Center for Creative Ministry

Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, Center for Creative Ministry