Pastoral care is a biblical mandate to the Church


Pastoral care is a biblical mandate to the Church to be involved in the lives of God's peop A key metaphor used by Jesus to describe his pastoral role was that of a shepherd. Thi to be God's shepherds and instruments of healing and transformation in God'



Pastoral care is a biblical mandate to the Church to be involved in the lives of God's peop A key metaphor used by Jesus to describe his pastoral role was that of a shepherd. Thi to be God's shepherds and instruments of healing and transformation in God's world is imperative to all people, clergy and laity alike. The brokenness in South African society strikingly apparent, exacerbated by the effects of exceptionally high criminal behaviour statistics show. The demand for pastoral care and assistance with various personal proble is on the increase, with many non-church goers turning to churches for help. Also appare in South Africa is the acute shortage of trained individuals to offer care and counselling. T task of offering care is not the sole responsibility of clergy, as all are called to be shepherds a caregivers. The importance and urgency in training church-based counselling teams cannot overstated. More so in that we are becoming increasingly aware that not only are individu in need of care, but whole communities are struggling with trauma and life's challenges, a often do not know whom to turn to. In pursuance of the realisation that pastoral care is t function and duty of all Christians, this article will delineate in particular an explanation lay counselling, reasons for its importance including biblical foundations, where and ho ordinary South Africans can get involved, and will propose certain models and approach for getting started. These models will not be discussed in depth, but present an opportun for the next. Teams for these models consist of professional counsellors, but ought not to restricted to a select few, as all are called to this special ministry and can be trained for t task, which will include on-going supervision and mentoring. The overall purpose of t article is to highlight the urgency of training lay counsellors and some recommendations w be made how to apply it, in an attempt to be faithful to the biblical mandate and examples by Jesus Christ.


A grass roots movement of lay Christian counselling has proliferated throughout church congregations in the United States of America and beyond (Tan 1991, 2011). Lay model developers have influenced tens of thousands of lay counsellors and perhaps millions of congregants through their writings and seminars (Garzon, Tan Worthington 2009:113).

The main purpose of this article is to show the urgency of training lay counsellors. I wish to emphasise the importance of pastoral care in local communities by developing lay church-based counselling teams. These teams may consist of professional counsellors but should not be limited to a select few, because pastoral care is the task of all Christians who have a special calling to this specific ministry. Clinebell (1984:25) describes pastoral care and counselling as 'the utilization by persons in ministry of one-to-one or small group relationships to enable healing empowerment and growth to take place within individuals and their relationships'.

According to a Gallup poll released in 2011, 55% of American adults reported that religion was 'very important' in their lives whilst 24% stated that religion was fairly important (Gallup n.d.). Although I cannot find a South African view for this research I assume that it will be the same. Thus, it is not surprising that many people with mental health problems will first turn to a pastor or other religious leader before seeking psychological services from a professional therapist. The same research finds that even amongst people who declared that they never attended religious service, 16% reported that they sought guidance from clergy for assistance with personal problems (cf. Veroff, Kulka Douvan 1981: 25, 233).

Pastors do not carry the burden of being the congregation's sole caregivers. They have a team of gifted, trained, committed lay caregivers ready to minister to hurting people inside and outside the congregation.

Lay people have a chance to use and strengthen their leadership and caregiving gifts in meaningful ministry -serving others whilst experiencing tremendous spiritual growth, and people who are hurting no longer suffer alone. A caring Christian friend comes alongside them to provide emotional and spiritual care for as long as the need persists. The New Testament envisions a ministry to which all are called (Van Deusen Hunsinger 2006:x). Our unity in Christ, our dependence upon Christ, and our willingness to offer and receive help from one another are all part of a rich vision for the Church (Van Deusen Hunsinger 2006:27).

Congregations have a practical, powerful influence and the New Testament urges us to bear one another's burdens (Gl 6:2), to confess our sins and pray for one another (Ja 5:16), to encourage one another (1 Th 5:11), and to care for one another (1 Cor 12:25; Van Deusen Hunsinger 2006:ix), to equip God's people for the work of ministry, for 'building up the body of Christ' (Eph 4:12), to 'love one another as I have loved you' (Jh 13:34) and to 'go make disciples' (Mt 28:19).

Human beings need one another in order to be human (Van Deusen Hunsinger 2006:6). In pastoral care, real interdependence becomes a reality when we reach out to one another in love. Only as we consent to open our inner lives to each other will we grow in trust. Each of us is called to listen to and intercede for others on the basis of their true need. Each of us is called to give witness to the one who sustains and renews our lives. Each of us is responsible for exercising the gifts we have been given for the good of all (Van Deusen Hunsinger 2006:27).