Regardless of whether your church organizes and supervises lay counseling or informal spiritual care ministry programming, church leaders need to consider legal and ethical risk management issues as they coordinate these ministries.
Balancing Risk with Spiritual Care
Before considering a lay counseling ministry, church leaders should ask themselves the following questions:
Is the church aware of its legal and ethical risks regarding lay counseling and other spiritual care ministries of the church?
Is church leadership involved in developing policies and procedures to legally, ethically, and biblically address these risks?
Are spiritual care and counseling policies and procedures regularly reviewed to ensure that they comply with changing legal requirements?
Are pastoral staff members and lay counselors trained to understand these policies and procedures and to actively follow them?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then church leaders should prayerfully reflect on what steps they can take to address these important points.
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