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Church Leaders and Congregations Split Over Care And Counseling

by | Tue, Jun 6 2023

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Around half of both Christians and the general US population believe churches should be offering care and counseling to their communities, according to recent research.

But the study by the Barna Group found most pastors disagree, with only 30% of them supporting counseling in their churches.

The majority of pastors believed their main roles should be telling others about Jesus and helping Christians grow in their faith.

The Christian Post reports the research was carried out for Barna’s Resilient Pastor series which explores how pastors, Christians and non-Christians say a church should show up in its community.

It sought to discover how pastors are coping and to help them move into the future with “clarity, resilience and hope.”

“Clearly, this goes beyond what pastors want for their congregations, what congregants want from their pastors, and what neighbors want out of their local churches. The Church is a broad concept for many, and while it would be impossible to cater to every single expectation this entails, leaders should pay attention to the notable distinctions between what people want from churches and what pastors believe they should be offering,” researchers noted in an excerpt from Resilient Pastor.

“There are ways for pastors and communities to get on the same page (or at least in the same chapter) about the role of the church in their communities, but it’s going to take some humility, introspection and, most importantly, open communication to get there,” they added.

At the height of the pandemic, Barna and research partner Pepperdine University’s Boone Center for the Family  found that 58% of US adults and 54% of practicing Christians reported having at least one relational, emotional or mental issue that impacted on their most important relationships.

“I have always believed that the Church is a great resource for people to go to to receive help with things like anxiety and depression. Though, over the last several years, there’s been some separation. Professionals deal with mental healthcare concerns and church people deal with spiritual concerns. I think we’ve missed volumes of opportunity here,” Boone Center Executive Director Sharon Hargrave told Barna President David Kinnaman.

“I believe the church is very well suited to help with relationship and mental healthcare concerns and our programming at the Boone Center for the Family is designed specifically to intertwine theology and psychology in such a way that church and mental healthcare can work together,” she asserted.