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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Simple Church Minute 66--pastor doing counseling

66—pastor doing counseling
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
            In our culture, to be a high school guidance counselor, one need a masters degree. To be in psychological counseling, one needs a doctorate.  Most of both groups have come from institutions which have a very negative attitude toward Christians, and really resent, if not outright attempt to influence regulation against, traditional pastors doing the type of counseling appropriate to the church.  Clearly, the Bible does not use the word “counsel” in the modern technological sense of the word.  Where, though, did we get the idea that a traditional pastor, in addition to preaching, heading the organization, and all his other duties, was to do counseling?
            In the early church, all believers were equally responsible before God to do the work of Jesus continuing, only greater.  That would have included befriending one’s neighbor, helping him, and pointing to Jesus as the truth.  That, broadly, would get into what we might call counseling today.  That’s just what being a witness of Jesus’ work in us is.  As covered on many other days, over the next few centuries, things changed greatly.  In the 5th century, Gregory of Nazianzus came up with the idea of “the cure of souls” and referred to a pastor as one who diagnoses and prescribes cures for spiritual ills.  After the Reformation, Martin Bucer and John Calvin developed an understanding of a pastor’s role as preaching, celebrating, communion, and providing for the spiritual care and health of the congregation.  Bucer wrote about it; Calvin raised it to an art form.
            Today, in some large churches, counseling is closer to the professional type, and passed to an assistant pastor, or counseling pastor, or even having a staff psychologist.  I imagine some is good, and some isn’t, as we are imperfect people.  There is no specific scriptural command, but the general principle is helping others, while every believer is to seek wisdom and maturity.
            You can email me at  For more info on organic church*, see or locally (local website).
On the recording, at this time, it says, “house churches.”  While that phrasing is OK, to say “organic church” is better.  I comment on that in blip 94.

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