It seems at times that our community is bursting at the seams with need. In many situations, the church becomes an individual’s best chance at receiving help and support. Pastors get hit hard during these tough times. You don’t have enough staff, volunteers or qualified counselors to meet the demands of your congregation. It’s not fun to receive phone calls in the middle of the night, or from a member who is suicidal. There is also a dangerous myth, that if you are a Christian, you shouldn’t go to the secular world to seek counseling. This myth is the farthest from the truth. How can you pray your way of it, if you don’t know the extent of what you’re dealing with? Talking to a mental health professional can help you identify the root of the problem. Then you can also use scripture and prayer toward your healing.
God created counselors to help heal the body of Christ. We all have a part in the body and we need each other. More pastors are realizing that they need more training in dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues. The Department of Mental Health adopted Faith Partners and provided training on identifying mental health and substance abuse issues. It is important for pastors to be educated about when to refer their members to obtain professional help. More and more counselors are being certified as Christian Counselors, which is now being widely accepted across the nation.
I was reading an article, written by the New York Times dated, November 28, 2014, that reported in a study by Matthew Stanford, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, 71 percent of Baptist pastors said they were unable to recognize mental illness. In another study, he found that while 55 of 70 seminaries offered pastoral counseling electives, directors said that students were often unable to fit them into their schedules.
As an outreach community chaplain for Brookhaven Hospital, we can provide pastors with a presentation to you and your pastoral team about our Renewal Christian Care Program, and the referral process. Brookhaven Hospital’s Renewal Christian Care program is here to serve you, to help you recognize symptoms of behaviors that may need to be addressed by professional counseling.
We also invite pastors to attend our Renewal Christian Care seminar on February 12, 2015. Our next speaker will be Chief Chaplain Danny Lynchard, Tulsa Police Department. Please contact Lydia D’Ross at 918-438-4257 to register to attend.