Pastoral Care specialists are trained – for good reasons – to avoid becoming overly involved or opening doors to codependency in the counselor-client relationship. Without criticizing this standard practice, I do want to suggest that we might be better served by what I call Missional Pastoral Care.
Missional is rooted in the Latin term missio dei, which means mission of God or the sending of God. It implies the adopting of a missionary’s posture, thinking and practices that convey God’s presence. It is the authentic revelation of our “abiding in Christ” – or our reflection of Christ who dwells inside us.
What would He do? And how do we offer Missional Pastoral Care?
As evangelicals, we need to understand that “He” would never do some of the things we do – and He would intentionally and proactively take action on things we never think to do.
(1) He would never allow evangelicals to look at others outside the box of God’s love. He would step in to gently reveal our blind spots, so that we might love hurting people more compassionately.
(2) He would never call conservative parents to condemn and disown their children. He would remind them of their frailties and invite them to join Him in radically loving young people where they are.
(3) He would never sit by as adolescents are repeatedly teased and bullied to the point of wanting to kill themselves. He would intervene, report or take whatever action is necessary to stop the violence.
(4) He would never skip headlines of another teen suicide caused by bullying. He would read it. He would weep with and comfort the victim’s family. He would bring justice and stop the violence.
(5) He would never encourage teens to disconnect from their parents due to a belief gap. He would bridge the gap. He knows that a strong parent-child bond lowers suicidal inclination.
Jesus never lets go of moral truth – and He never abandons those who fall short of it. Missional Pastoral Care brings Jesus to where people are; nourishes faith identity in them; and rescues them from harm. It never alienates the victimizer – it always seeks to invite them into Christ’s love.
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