Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.
I am not sure what I think about this chapter. The authors argue for Christian pastoral care within a communal setting, as opposed to the "professional" counseling. I have heard of a couple stories of people violently against that idea, though I haven't seen anything bad about that myself, and would tend to agree with the authors, that I think it is helpful for a "counselor" to share a worldview with the "counselee" as that greatly affects what counsel is appropriate to give someone. In addition, I think the authors would argue against professional Christian counselors as well, but aim more for relationships within the community that you are already in.
The problem with this therapy culture, according to Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, is the way it has made therapy into a way of life. People are encouraged define themselves as victims who have suffered at the hands of parents, employers, or through pregnancy and any number of other things. A belief system has emerged, the credo of which is that people cannot cope "on their own.". Furedi argues that a therapy culture is bad for individuals and a significant threat to public health. As long as people are encouraged to seek professional counseling to help them with everything from dealing with an unpleasant incident to raising their children, argues Furedi, individuals become disinclined to depend upon each other in the normal routine of relationships. Relationships are increasingly "professionalized."
This book is a call to dual fidelity to the gospel word and the gospel community. It is our conviction that the gospel word and the gospel community do not fail us when it comes to pastoral care. Together they provide the secure framework within which to approach pastoral issues.
Is it naive or irresponsible to believe that the Bible gives not only an accurate and sufficient analysis of the human condition but also an effective response or "treatment"? Many people think so, and as a result a dichotomy is created between the ministry of Bible teaching and that of pastoral counseling. At the heart of historic evangelism is a committment to the Bible as "the final authority on all matters of faith and conduct."
These next quotes reminded me of when I was thinking about the Dominican Republic and one description someone gave us of the culture there, "It is different than the US. You will find that if you walk up to someone's house and knock on the door [if they don't come out to meet you before you get to the door, which was the case in every example I saw] they will quickly grab some chairs and make some tea or food to share and you will be able to spend as much time as you want. You likely won't have anyone who won't be interested in talking with you." Maybe I'm the palest Dominican that ever lived.
Pastoral care in a Christian community is not merely one therapy device among many. It is the context in which any other pastoral care takes place.
Most pastoral care takes [should take, anyway] place in the context of ordinary life - as we eat together, wash up together, play in the park, walk along the road. This preventative care often averts pastoral crises or helps people cope when they face difficult circumstances. But for these to be occasions of pastoral care we need to be intentional about encouraging and exhorting one another with the gospel.