Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pastoral Counseling Begins in the Pulpit

The January edition of New Horizons (published by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) includes an excellent article titled "The Therapy of the Word" by Carl Trueman.  Years ago, I was taught that pastoral counseling begins in the pulpit.  I've recognized this to be true and do my best to keep this in mind whenever I preach.  Trueman asks a question I believe needs to be considered by the modern church:
...95 percent of the problems addressed by counseling should actually be addressed and solved by simply proclaiming the perennial Word of God.  Is it perhaps the case that fewer people would need counseling if more people actually listened prayerfully to what their pastors were telling them from the pulpit every Sunday morning? (emphasis mine)
Keep in mind, the emphasis here is not on the pastor but on the Word of God!  However, this does imply that Christian counseling is a pastoral function, right?

I agree with Trueman that there is a definite place for counseling outside of the pulpit.  That said, we need to remember that pastoral counseling begins in the pulpit, and that all out-of-pulpit counseling ought to direct the counselee(s) back to the ministry of the Word from the pulpit.