Counseling Skills In Ministry
Dr. Edward Gray
Harding School of Theology
We want to be helpful to others in our ministries, and yet may find ourselves at a loss in getting started. Helping relationships are built through listening to people’s stories. Assisting others involves warmth and empathy that is conveyed through the development of a helping relationship with them. Insight develops as a people share with you what they are experiencing.
When people seek help they may be struggling with emotions, thoughts, or behaviors that are troubling. Our goal needs to focus on helping them find their own solutions, not “fixing” them or telling them what to do. This goal takes more time than giving out quick advice. Pray for the people you are serving and consider the following suggestions and questions to ask:
• Take your time.
• Listen well.
• Ask open-ended questions.
• Ask them to share stories with you.
• What have they found helpful in the past?
• When is the problem not as bad? (Exceptions)
• How are they coping?
• Who else do they know going through a similar situation?
• What help have they given to this person?
• When things are a little better, what are they doing that is a little different?
• Make goals small, specific, & measurable.
• Focus on strengths & assets. Look for Ability not DISability.
• What will they be doing when things are a little better?
• When you feel better, what will you be able (or want) to do that you haven’t been doing lately?
• What might be one or two small things you can do this week that will take you one step closer to your goal?
• What’s different about the times that you experience less of the problem?
• On a scale of 1-10, where are you now?
• What would need to happen for you to be 1 point better on this scale?
For additional basic counseling information consult:
Thomas, F. N., & Cockburn, J. (1998). Competency-based counseling. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. ISBN: 9780800629779
What a great workshop today! Thanks for your participation and comments.
Keep the ideas flowing. I am posting several of our handout items if you wish to share them with others.
Action Items for Developing a Senior Ministry
• Pray! Convene a prayer and brainstorming session regarding Seniors in Ministry. Look at the needs in your church and community that could be addressed in a better manner through organized efforts.
• Select a committee and a leader to develop this ministry. Consider seniors who have leadership experience in their professional careers. Consider hiring a seniors minister to work with the Seniors Committee.
• Survey senior needs, service ideas, and talents of current members.
• Educate your church leaders and pray about senior ministry as a way to grow God’s kingdom.
• Select a name for the ministry.
• Develop a newsletter and/or website for the senior ministry. Inform and recruit through this forum.
• Sponsor an idea contest for things members would like to do in this ministry. (Use Susan & Ed’s list as a beginning point.)
• Start with two or three ideas. Launch these efforts and build on their success.
• Consider several age divisions of your seniors to provide focus for specific endeavors. Accommodate vision, hearing, and ambulatory abilities.
• Balance the ministry efforts. Include social, service, and spiritual areas of expression.
• Remember how important people were to Jesus as he ministered to them including their physical, emotional, relationship and spiritual needs.
Susan Giboney, Pepperdine University
Ed Gray, Harding School of Theology
Resources for Ministering to the Aging Population
Alderman, Margaret. 1999. Each New Sunrise: Meditations in Maturity. Winona, MN, St. Mary’s Press.
Bianchi, Eugene, C. 1992, Aging as a Spiritual Journey, New York, Crossroads Press.
Burke, Mary Thomas, & Meranti, Judith, G. 1995. Counseling the Spiritual Dimension. Alexandria, VA, ACA Press.
Ellis, Linda and Mac Anderson. 2012. The Dash. Thomas Nelson.
Freedman, Marc. 2007. Encore. New York, Public Affairs.
Gray, Ed. 2007. Life after 60: 12 Conversations for Active Living.
Gray, Ed. 2010. 12 Conversations for Couples Experiencing Health Challenges. (www.12SeniorConversations.com)
Gray, Ed and Susan Giboney. 2011. 12 Conversations for Caregivers.
Gray, Ed and Susan Giboney. 2013. 12 Conversations for Grief and Loss. (www.12SeniorConversations.com)
Groeschel, Benedict J., 2000. Spiritual Passages. New York, Crossroad Publication Co.
Hargrave, Terry D. 2005. Loving your Parents When They Can No Longer Love You. Grand Rapids, Zondervan.
Johnson, Richard P. 1992. Body, Mind, Spirit. Liguori, MO. Liguori Publications.
Johnson, Richard P. 1995, Caring for Your Aging Parent. St. Louis, MO. Concordia Publishing.
Johnson, Richard P. 1998. The 12 Keys to Spiritual Vitality: Powerful Lessons in Living Agelessly. Liguori, MO. Liguori Publications.
Johnson, Richard P. 1999. Creating a Successful Retirement: Finding Peace and Purpose. Liguori, MO, Liguori Publishing.
Knapp, James. 2003. The Graying of the Flock. Abilene, TX, Leafwood Publications.
Kreeft, Peter. 1992. Love is Stronger than Death. San Francisco, Ignatius Press.
Pipher, Mary. 1999. Another Country. New York, Riverhead Books.
Reilly, Maria. 1994. Now That I Am Old, Mystic, CT, Twenty-Third Publications.
Rohr, Richard. 2011. Falling Forward. San Francisco, Josey-Bass.
Rolheiser, Ronald. 1998. Seeking Spirituality. London, Hodder & Stoughton.
Rolheiser, Ronald. 2004. The Restless Heart. New York, Doubleday Books, Inc.
Schaper, Donna, E. 1999. Alone but Not Lonely: A Spirituality of Solitude. Mystic, CT, Twenty-Third Publications.
Schlehofer, Jo. 1998. Celebrate the Older You, Notre Dame, IN, Ave Maria Press.
Sheehy, Gail. 2010. Passages in Caregiving. New York, Harper.
Solie, David. 2004. How To Say It to Seniors. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Prentice Hall.
Stokes, Kenneth. 1983. Faith Development in the Adult Life Cycle. Joplin, MO, College Press.
Wendell, Richard. 2008. Retire With A Mission. Naperville, IL, Source Books, Inc.
Whitehead, Evelyn & Whitehead, James, 1995. Seasons of Strength. Winona, MN, St. Mary’s Press.
Wright, H. Norman. 2012. What’s Next? Navigating Transitions to Make the Rest of Your Life Count. Bloomington, MN, Bethany House Publishers.