Reducing Pastoral Counseling Risks

One of the “wet blankets” that may hinder Pastoral Counseling and lay church-based Discipleship Counseling is the fear of a lawsuit. Although informal peer-to-peer ministry seems to avoid this stigma, when churches and parachurch helpers move into a more formal pastoral counseling role, the risk factor may come up. How can these fears be addressed? How can the counselor take wise precautions?

Adopt and ethics statement

Although professional code of ethics documents are more detailed than needed and are biased with secular values and professional policies, the Pastoral Counselor can adapt and use a policy document. Here is an audio lecture on ethics by Dr. Cry Lantz:

http://gfirecovery.com/MP3/Cary_Lantz_ETHICS.mp3

and a sample document: Ethics Policy

In formal personal ministry, have a second person present or nearby for accountability (for the benefit of the counselee and the counselor).

Use relevant forms

When forms such as Informed Consent and Waiver of Liability are used, this documents that the counselee agrees to non-professional, non-secular, Christian personal ministry sessions. These forms should be signed and kept with the client’s case notes. Here are sample documents that can be edited:
Informed Consent Form sample
Waiver of Liability sample

Get insurance coverage

If you’re doing formal ministry (appointments, goals, secure notes, donations received, etc.), a liability policy is reassuring and also affordable (relatively speaking). Consider this agency that covers pastoral/dicipleship counselors for about $100 or so per year. (800) 421-6694
https://www.americanprofessional.com/covered-professions/clergy-pastoral-counselors/

As the apostle Paul admonished Timothy, let’s minister with integrity and confidence:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6,7).

Wealth, Walk and Warfare

The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian by R. Paxson is a classic devotional exposition of the Epistle to the Ephesians. Here is an excerpt:


The Saint in Christ

2:1. ” You [were] dead. ” 1:20. ” Christ [was] dead.”

“You [were] dead.” – How can a dead man be made a live? “Christ [was] dead.” What an amazing answer! Christ, the source of all life, even life itself, dead! This is the almost unthinkable thing that grace has done. It has put Christ, the sinless One, in the sinner’s place. “The wages of sin is death”; “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” [Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4,20]. The penalty must be paid, and there was no other way to do it. He bore the sinner’s sins by taking the sinner’s place.

2:5. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”

Believing upon Christ as his Saviour and receiving Him into his heart, the sinner becomes the possessor of eternal life and is made one with Christ. Shall a live man remain in a grave?

1:20. “Christ raised from the dead.”

2:6. “And hath raised us up together with him.”

The grave could not hold Him that was alive. Neither can it hold the quickened sinner. The grave of sin is no place for a saint. An evangelist said in a meeting, “We shall never be anything but sinners saved by grace, with one foot in sin and one foot in grace.” Never, oh! never, according to Ephesians. If 2: 1-10 teaches anything, it is the exact opposite of such a statement. True, the sinner is saved by grace, and by grace alone, and this fact should ever be kept fresh in his memory, that he may forever praise God for His wondrous goodness. But it is equally true that through God’s grace the believer in Christ has left forever the old position in sin, and has come into a totally new position in Christ. Indeed the sinner has become a saint. God lifted him altogether out of that awful pit of sin and placed both feet on the solid rock “in Christ” wherein he is to walk in the future, as in times past he walked “in sin.” How could a saint walk worthily (4:1) with one foot in sin and one foot in grace? It is just such teaching and such practice that excuses the and inconsistent walk of many a Christian. Being raised together with Christ, the saint is now to walk in newness of life. To do this Christ must become the Life of his life.

But God’s grace is not yet exhausted, nor His redemptive plan completed. Wherever Christ is the Christian must be, for he is now bound together with Christ for all time and eternity. Christ and the Christian are eternally one. The earth could not hold the risen Christ any more than the grave could retain the dead Christ, for His redemptive work demands something more.

1:20. “He set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”

2:6. “He made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Dare we believe this glorious truth that He who went down to the very deepest depths of sin for us now carries us up to the very highest heights of glory with Him? That is hardly the way to put the question. Dare we not believe it? God has written both of these truths in His Word and, if we do not believe the latter, we do not really believe the former. God has said it, and to disbelieve is to make God a liar.

“Made us sit together.” – Seated; how restful and relaxed it sounds! Yet how many of us are most of the time anything but that, but rather buzzing around in a fretful, feverish fashion which is far more earthly than heavenly in the impression it makes upon the world about us.

” In the heavenlies in Christ.” – Yes, at home in the heavenlies, where our citizenship really is (Phil. 3:20). Not visiting this glorious place from time to time as trial, sorrow and conflict drive us to a higher plane, but settling down in the heavenlies in possessive and permanent occupancy as our abiding-place…

Download the exposition of Ephesians 2:1-10 here (PDF): 825_The_Creation_of_a_Christian

Grace Is Greater

This free audio book (for May) addresses important themes for leaders and those they shepherd: “Bestselling author and pastor Kyle Idleman wants everyone to experience the grace of God. Through the powerful medium of story, Grace Is Greater leads readers past their hang-ups toward an understanding of grace that is bigger than our mistakes, our failures, our desire for revenge, and our seemingly impossible situations.” https://christianaudio.com/free/

LifeCoach Discipleship

Although there are many discipleship resources available through GFI and other publishers, we try to stay alert to new developments. A month ago I came across Brandon Park’s video on 2 Timothy 2:2 multiplication:

This led to me getting his workbook LifeCoach Discipleship. Amazing plan, organization and production quality. He is currently a pastor here. http://connectionpoint.tv/lifecoach
LifeCoach Discipleship is also available in a church-wide campaign kit. It takes the discipleship course, app and videos and expands them to a church-wide campaign of sermons, small group studies, drama, and social media promotion. The kit is half price this month and is worth having even if it is not implemented as a full campaign.
-JBW

Motivational Gifts

The topic of spiritual gifts can be a beneficial aspect of pastoral ministry. The teaching context would include 1 Peter 4:10,11, Eph. 4:11-12; and 1 Cor. 12-14.
Personal discipling/ counseling could facilitate the disciple’s appreciation, recognition and deployment of his/her gift(s).
A model that I have found very helpful over the decades considers the seven gifts Romans 12:3-8 as “motivational gifts.” In other words, each of us as believers has one of these seven gifts as a primary motivational gift. With that motive/orientation you may have one or more “ministry gifts”… and the use of these abilities may sometimes show up in a “manifestation gift.”
Here are some resources that unpack this approach:
(click the link on each of the seven for more detail)
An online (and downloadable) survey is at:
Books using this model include:
And note Charles Stanley’s sermons on the seven (motivational) spiritual gifts :
If the discipler appreciates the importance of spiritual gifts in life and ministry, he may discover this topic to be more scriptural and beneficial than the popular four personality categories (as used in the DISC profile).
JBW

Victorious Christian Living

by Dr. Lewis Gregory

We hear the phrase victorious Christian living often but I’m not sure very many people know what it really means, much less how to achieve it.

Raising the bar: I once thought the normal Christian life involved much failure and defeat. After all to err is human. And all God expects from us is to do the best we can, because He understands our weakness. But when we die and go to Heaven then everything will be OK. Wrong! It may sound nice, and even be comforting when we consider our future. But as one man said, “how does this help me in the ugly here and now?” It doesn’t!

THE SOURCE OF VICTORY

Such a life of failure and defeat is not indicative of God’s heavenly kingdom. And it’s certainly not victory. That is why Jesus told us to pray that His kingdom would come here on Earth as it is in Heaven. Once you receive Jesus Christ, God’s kingdom is within you, because the Kingdom of Heaven is the realm of God’s presence. But it is all in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the victor, He is the conqueror, and He is the triumphant victorious king. Hallelujah!

Heaven on Earth, that’s the life and the victory that Christ offers. We can live victorious because of the Victor Jesus Christ who has conquered Satan, death and hell. Jesus is victor over all things. Thus we can be victorious over all things through Christ Jesus our Lord-our indwelling king.

WHAT IS VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING?

Consider some biblical terms that describe victory in the NT:

Strong-in the Lord-Ephesians 6:10,
And yet we are told in Isaiah 33:23 that “The lame take to prey.” 2 Corinthians 12:10, Matthew 26:41, Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

courtesy of https://www.sourceministries.net/

Continue reading this article…