Why, As a Pastor, I Can’t Counsel Christians

I have found over the years that there are many Christians who desperately need counselling.
They are facing depression, drug abuse (including Alcohol), marriage problems, anger problems and all sorts of issues. These are all serious problems and if left to them selves, they can result in devastating consequences.

Unfortunately, I can’t counsel many of these people and there are four main reasons why this is the case.
The first reason why I can't counsel many Christians with their problems is that…

1. They won't read the Bible consistently.
The Bible is the most exceptional counsellor a Christian has. It is our source of spiritual food and strength (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). It reveals our heart to us and shows us our selfish and sinful motives (Hebrews 4:12). God counsels us through His Word, and if a believer does not go to God Himself, a pastor is not going to be much of a help to them.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

We recommend the AV 1611.

2. They won't pray consistently.
Similar to Bible reading, if an individual won't pray and bring their problems and burdens to the one who saved them, then there will be little a fallible human can do.

1 Peter 5:6-7 "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

3. They won't be faithful to church services.
The church is a hospital. It is a place we go to get encouragement from other Christians (Galatians 6:2). It is supposed to be a spiritual family for the believer. If it is what it is supposed to be, there ought to be people there facing depression, drug abuse (including Alcohol), marriage problems, anger problems and all sorts of issues, because we are all sinners and need help in these areas. It should not be where only perfect sparkling clean Christians go.

One of the pastors' jobs is counselling, and much of this is done from the pulpit. I know of hundreds of times I preached messages that would have been a help to someone, but they didn't come. There is always a reason people miss church, but the fact is when they miss church, they are also missing the counselling, help and encouragement that we all need to make it through a week in a sinful world.

The purpose of church services and special meetings are to help the people of the church spiritually. If someone refuses to go to church, unless they are facing sickness or a physical disability that keeps them from going, than they are rejecting the fellowship and help of other Christians, and more importantly, the help of God.

Hebrews 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

4. They won't settle on one church.
Some Christians won't settle on one church, and they are continually moving around, which is a sign of instability. A church is a body, an organism. It is where we connect and establish relationships. God gives a message to the pastor for the particular congregation that the Lord has placed him over. When someone is moving around all the time, they are not able to hear it, and they never really establish solid relationships.

1 Corinthians 4:2 "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

Another problem with this is that no two churches believe precisely alike, even among independent Baptists (let alone Pentecostals, Baptist Union, Catholic, etc.). So by moving churches, you will ultimately receive contradicting teaching (I won't even begin to address the problems facing "youtube Christians", as I often call them). The differences in churches may not be heretical, but they will likely contradict each other and cause confusion.

The core of these four problems is a lack of Christian character. No amount of counselling can make someone read their Bible, pray, go to church and be faithful. The first thing they likely need is to make themselves accountable to someone for their walk with God. They will quickly get this by being consistent to church and settling on one.

Most of the struggles in a Christians life stem from a lapse in these four areas. If the Christian can get these four areas in order, for at least a month, most of the time, their other problems will begin to subside. If the problems do not begin to recede, then they can be addressed through pastoral counselling, because they are starting with a solid foundation. Without these four elements, even with Christian counselling, the individual is left with a shaky foundation. They must have these in order if counselling is going to truly be helpful and effective.

Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

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(At An Carraig Baptist Church, we take a literal, fundamental approach to the Bible (AV 1611). We are also a local, independent body of believers, which means we are not subject to any religious hierarchy. Being "Baptist" means, we hold to the Bible-based, Baptist Distinctives, that has been the hallmark of true Baptist churches through the centuries. You are welcome to join us at any of our weekly meetings, or schedule to meet for tea/coffee.)