Pastors as Gatekeepers: Congregational Encounters with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues
The vocation of a pastor is to care for the spiritual needs of a congregation and community. However, as many clergy know well, pastoral care is multifaceted and complex. For example, one of the hats that pastors frequently wear is that of pastoral counselor. Although pastors have traditionally offered support and pastoral care to congregants, they are beginning to spend more hours counseling both congregants and community members. One study indicated that pastors were spending time in pastoral counseling equivalent to that of marriage and family therapists in private practice.1 The same study showed that pastors are encountering persons and families experiencing mental health and/or addiction challenges more frequently than they have in times past. These trends indicate that the needs of congregations, and the broader community, may be shifting. As these needs shift, so does the role of the pastor.
VanderWaal, Curtis; Opei, Andrea; and Hernandez, Edwin I., "Pastors as Gatekeepers: Congregational Encounters with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues" (2015). Faculty Publications. 42.