04 Conclusion: Partners in Restoration

Conclusion: Partners in Restoration


Churches are locally situated and supernaturally equipped to meet people’s relational needs—and encouraging data from practicing Christians suggest many churches are already doing so. And, as we’ve seen, Christians aren’t the only people who turn to churches for help. More than half of pastors (54%) say between one and five people who are not regular attenders sought their help with a relationship problem in the past year. One-quarter (24%) reports six or more non-church people asked for their help.

Counseling is an area where churches can increase their relational reach and service to their community, particularly because anxiety and depression are such widespread issues inside and outside the Church. But most small- and medium-size churches can’t afford a full-time staff person dedicated to pastoral counseling. Here are some ideas for meeting relational and mental health needs in your community:

  • Find a partner. Counseling is emotionally, mentally and spiritually demanding work, and sharing the load is a good idea. Is there a mental health professional already in your congregation? Or a state-licensed Christian counseling center in your community? Start a relationship so that you can make referrals to someone you trust. Know the limits of your expertise and lean on trusted others whose expertise complements your own.
  • Use all your resources. Speaking of people in your church, what do they have to offer? It’s a safe bet that at least one or two are in recovery from addiction of some kind, and 100-percent guaranteed that the long- and happily married have navigated some serious relationship problems. How can you connect them with people who are struggling now?
  • Connect groups. In the same vein, people who are in touch with others on a regular basis report greater emotional and relational well-being, so make sure there are high-touch opportunities beyond Sunday morning. This is especially important for single people, who often need married folks and families to make special efforts to enfold them into the regular goings-on of life.
  • Train. You may have had a pastoral counseling class in seminary, but there is so much more to learn! Whether it’s through Pepperdine’s Boone Center for the Family or another trustworthy source, deepen your knowledge, acquire new skills and get connected with other pastors and counselors who can help you live more deeply into your calling to shepherd people well.
  • Focus on anxiety and depression. At least one-third of your faith community is dealing with one or the other—or both—and it’s making a profound impact on their relationships. Get informed about these very common problems. Start talking about mental health from the pulpit. Encourage people under your pastoral care to get clinical help when they need it.
  • Talk about the hard stuff. When Christians have heard their pastor teach on relational issues, they are more likely to say their church has helped them through relational crisis. Your words make a difference! So, go ahead and talk about sensitive topics, even if it makes people (including you) uncomfortable. Be discerning about when it might be helpful to talk about your own struggles. People will be more likely to talk about the tough stuff in their own lives and ask for help when the tough stuff is too much.
  • Get the word out. A significant percentage of churchgoers says they don’t know what counseling options their own church has to offer. Let them know—so that when (not if ) problems arise, they know already that they are not alone.

This study’s findings strongly suggest that churches help people live better relational lives. In fact, people who seek out spiritual help for their relational problems report the best outcomes. Pastor, keep up the good work.

But the data also show that professional counseling and mental healthcare also play a vital role in helping people heal from trauma, addiction, mental illness and other deep hurts. God is using all of the above to restore broken people and broken relationships. That’s good news!

Let’s employ an all-of-the-above policy when it comes to restoring relationships—and rejoice to see the gospel come alive in everyday life!

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Where Do People Turn For Support & How Can Churches Help?

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Appendix A: Notes

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