Answering Your Questions: Next Steps for Your Church

Let’s say our church leadership/pastors are on board with all we learned at the CBCC Conference. What are the first steps we should take in moving towards building a culture of counsel and care? What are a common mistakes that over-eager people have made that would be good to watch out for?

First Steps:

The first step in growing a culture of counsel and care within a church is to pray as leaders/pastors. I know this may sound trivial, but it is so important that church leaders are united in prayer whenever they seek to shift the culture of their church. Seeking to build a more robust culture of care and counselling in the church is a wonderful goal, but it needs to have the right focus. Seek the Lord and ask Him to lead you in this, then take steps of faith.

As you pray, you can begin to develop a plan for how you will implement this cultural shift. Growing a culture in any church takes time and intentionality. You are not just adding another ‘ministry’ to the church, it is more of a fundamental shift. It is best to start planting seeds throughout your various ministries. Here are a couple of ideas:

Preach a sermon series on the book of Ephesians. The whole book is filled with rich examples of how the body of Christ should live together in unity, building each other up into maturity in Christ. When you reach chapter four, you can spend a couple of sermons emphasizing how every member of the church has a role to play in ministering to the greater body of Christ.

Have your small groups go through a study together. There are a few good resources such as: Side by Side or Caring for One Another, both written by Edward T. Welch, or Real Change, by Andrew Nicholls and Helen Thorne. These are easy reads that will get your small groups thinking about how to have deeper conversations and begin ministering to one another more intentionally. As leaders this will also help lighten your load, as you begin to see people within the church stepping up to help others who are struggling or suffering in some way.

Begin identifying people in your congregation for next-level training. As you begin to move your church in the direction of more intentional care and counselling, be prayerfully looking for people who could take further steps in training. This could be ABC or ACBC Certification or taking some courses through CCEF or Heritage Seminary. Consider having some of your church leaders take part in this training, so you can begin building a counselling team.

Avoiding Mistakes:

One of the most common mistakes that over-eager people make is trying to do too much too fast (believe me, I know this from experience!). Many times, we as leaders get excited about something new and we want to see our churches get on board yesterday. Talking about moving your church in a new direction, even if it is a good direction, is not something that happens quickly. You need to prepare yourself for the long game. In speaking with church consultants on this subject, they say it takes at least three years to grow a robust care and counselling culture in a church.

As leaders, remember that this is not YOUR church, it is Christ’s church. Sometimes we feel its all up to us. Jesus knows what is best for His bride, so walk in step with Him as He leads you. Be patient, gentle, and lead by example. You may have a passion to see your church launch a counselling ministry but it may take some years of hard work to get there. Set reasonable goals for yourselves and take meaningful steps in the direction you want to see your church grow.

Finally, be willing to call some other pastors or church leaders who are already doing some of this work. Listen to their stories and learn from their experiences. You may also find some good friends in the process!


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