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Why Churches Don't Counsel

Why are so many churches today reluctant to step in and offer spiritual guidance and counseling (even if not invited) to Christian married couples when they know that one of the parties has filed for divorce? With a sincere effort toward reconciliation they may be able to prevent a divorce.

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 ---Frank on 9/29/10
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Why not be proactive?
Wouldn't it be better to have some classes, seminars, retreats, for married couples teaching the skills for communicating needed in a Christian marriage? This should be a Bible Study, thoroughly supported by Scripture.
It would be good for married people of any age, newly married onward...
Couples with problems could attend without
revealing to anyone that they may be thinking of divorce.
---Donna66 on 10/28/10


Counseling about marriage or any thing else, is of no help unless a person or couple, (both parties) want it and are willing to work to make things better. Injecting oneself, uninvited, into a marriage is a recipe for disaster...it seldom, if ever, leads to good for anyone.

Police officers know that the most dangerous task they face is trying to intervene in reported cases of domestic violence. Even when physical violence is not present, couples generally resent an intrusion. And Christian couples are no exception.

If someone perceived as objective and trustworthy, a "professional" (pastor, counselor) is available to them, they may request some help.

But even many Pastors feel ill-equipped for the job.
---Donna66 on 10/28/10


It is up to each person to offer help to those seen as being in need, ask yourself, "Why am I not offering spiritual words of help to my brother or my sister whom has filed for divorce?"
---Eloy on 10/28/10


BECAUSE ITS NOT NOT NOT THEIR JOB!

So many people today think of church as a social club. An entity that supplies recreation, food, and Counseling etc.
Those churches that do that, are NOT churches, but clubs.

YOU SEE FRANK, IT'S NOT NOT NOT ABOUT YOU AT ALL!

IT'S ABOUT GLORIFYING THE FATHER! NOTHING ELSE!

Want to Glorify G-d got to church.
Want to seek counseling go to a shrink!
---John on 10/28/10


\\I WOULD NOT GOOOOO to no humans for advice...Might take you down wrong road.\\

Consider the source.
---Cluny on 10/28/10




A professional counseling couple operating thoroughly under God's spirit saved my minister's marriage. I disagree about not going to people but I do agree you need God first and foremost. But if it hadn't been for this godly couple in California, my minister and his wife would have wound up filing for divorce, now they are a happily married couple and my whole church praises God for their recovery. :)
---Mary on 10/28/10


I WOULD NOT GOOOOO to no humans for advice, believers or certainly not an unbeliever. Might take you down wrong road.....People cannot manage their own lives too well. Believers, if someone comes to you for advice, you first get it from God and then pass it on. What seems right to man could prove DEADLY, my friends. God first always. There are no better an expert than the living God in all matters, including marriages.....Note: Don't give advice or seek it from God, unless the individual comes to you for it. Then pray. AhhJesus. God gets the credit, never man. NO.
---catherine on 10/28/10


////Why go to a preacher when you can go directly to God?// ---catherine

God generally works through people.
---Cluny on 10/27/10


Frank, i went to counseling when i was married and we had problems, was a real waste of time, the Pastor fed off of peoples drama, come to find out he had more problems than the people that went to him. So when as a Christian and you need counseling go to God read the Word and Pray, God is the Great Counselor. No man or women has all the answers but Jesus does. We all can give advice but is the person open to accepting it?We all are creatures of habit and going into a marriage we have to learn to grow just as being a Christian, if more would read the Word then apply it to their walk then we would all have less problems Amen.
---Lea on 10/27/10


Frank, again my advice is to pray and be dependent upon God. People fail all the time. They give their experiences and never give the other side of their stories. Would they ever admit they were responsible for their marriage going to the gutter? No. My experience is that when my marriage went down the gutter before God came into my life, I blamed her motives. Never did I stop to realize I had alot to do with my separation. I have talked to many who are divorced or separated, and none blamed themselves. These were so call Christians. People fail period, God never fails. If God is your Lord, you will depend on Him and Him along. Many times He restores marriages, and other times He does not, whatever the result, it will be the right one.
---Mark_V. on 10/27/10




////Why go to a preacher when you can go directly to God?// ---catherine

why listen directly to a prophet when you can listen directly to God?
---aka on 10/26/10 ///

Ive been asking myself this for years. Every time someone believes an interpretation from a man of high esteem in the church, I just shake my head.

Its like they never stop to think "What if hes wrong?"
---JackB on 10/27/10


//Why go to a preacher when you can go directly to God?// ---catherine

why listen directly to a prophet when you can listen directly to God?
---aka on 10/26/10


Okay, I have a good answer for this one, now. Why go to a preacher when you can go directly to God?
---catherine on 10/25/10

Yes, you can go directly to GOD with your concerns. We also need to deal with legal issues as long as we're living on planet Earth. In my case, and probably several other people too, these issues involve:

Child Support & Health Insurance
Custody of Any Minor Children
Division Of Assets
Alimony
Future Legal Cases
and so on ...

Churches often tell us divorced folks to seek out God for the "spiritual" and consult a lawyer about the "legal". I think that churches avoid becoming "too involved" in order to escape any potential liability.
---Augie on 10/26/10


Okay, I have a good answer for this one, now. Why go to a preacher when you can go directly to God?
---catherine on 10/25/10


MarkV ... I go along with what you say, although I think you are a bit over the top when you appear to suggest that people speak evil here.

I think the key thing you said is "Others can present what Scripture says about marriage and let you do what you feel the Word is revealing to you. But not what to do"

Counselling is often just listening, asking a few pertinemt questions, and letting the counsellee (the person seeking counselling) work out an answwer themselves.

As you say, a counsellor can't tell someone what to do, but can help to identify possible options and consequences.
---alan8566_of_uk on 10/9/10


The bible tells us to be careful wanting to do certain things. If we counsel,teach preach the wrong things we will be held accountable for leading another, astray. A person soul is very important to God. Everyone is not in a position to counsel, preach and teach others.They really need to be taught themselves. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.As I stated earlier: some pastors have lost their lives when the wife went home and told the spouse the pastor said to do such and such. This angered the husband, in turn, the husband confronted the pastor. Resulting in very bad results. Let the pastors do what some of them do best. Preach!
---Robyn on 10/9/10


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As I said earlier here, this is like saying that only a doctor who has had cancer is fit to treat it.
***

interesting inept reasoning ...mechanic would be akin to surgeon BOTH have skills to fix mechanics of working machines ...oncologist analogy works because mechanic was never a car

doctors treating physical body versus unmarried person with zero life skills experiencing a marriage INSTEAD they read answers PROVIDED by textbook

if reading text book was ALL that was required to REPAIR marriage married people could purchase the Marriage 101 textbook without hollow advice by non-married next up sending parents to single people who have never raised a child because they studied child rearing from a text book
---Rhonda on 10/9/10


Augie, the best way to take care of your divorce is to pray. Asking and depending on God for your life. He will do what is right. Asking advice from people here is not good at all. First, they only hear your story and not hers. Second, many are not able to preach the gospel let along teach what to do with your marriage. Many speak evil from their mouths, then present Scripture to show how holy they are. Sometimes condemning Scripture to boot. Others can present what Scripture says about marriage and let you do what you feel the Word is revealing to you. But not what to do. In the end it is your choice which you are responsible for. All the advice in the world cannot change your heart or hers, only God can do that, and many times it takes time.
---MarkV. on 10/9/10


A church is a place to save souls. A place to come and worship our God. A place to fellowship. Not a court. A pastor can choose to counsel if he chooses. But it can backfire and bring bad results. Especially if one or the other spouse, does not belong to the church. It is very risky, when a man is told how to run his own household and how to treat his wife. The pastor would probably be offended, if someone told him how to treat his wife and run his household. Pastors have been killed and assaulted because of this in the past. If the married couple belonged to the same church and asked for help,together, I might do it. Otherwise, I would stay out of it. I would not encourage them to come to me, either way.
---Robyn on 10/8/10


All Christians are able to counsel about marriage from the Word of God. We had a pastor tell us that we needed to work on our marriage first before joining the church (AOG. He offered no counseling or classes.
---freedbychrist07 on 10/7/10

This is the FIRST time that I have heard this. I thought that I was the "only" one to believe that.

Almost every church that I've have attended -- Catholic, Assemblies of God, Independent -- seems to "brainwash" people into thinking that they are only "qualified" if such-and-such applies to them.

That's not true at all. ALL Christians can counsel/teach from the Bible. I do!
---Sag on 10/7/10


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All Christians are able to counsel about marriage from the Word of God. We had a pastor tell us that we needed to work on our marriage first before joining the church (AOG. He offered no counseling or classes. That was almost 2 years ago. After a bad car wreck, surgeries, a ruptured disk and 2 days later my "Christian" husband walked out on me. I asked a christian couple to intervene because he wouldn't talk to anyone and was very depressed. Their answer, "we are not qualified". If we would share the truth about marriage and divorce with others, God would use that to work in peoples lives. I am still trusting God to get my husband to see the truth and believe before it's too late.
---freedbychrist07 on 10/7/10


As I said earlier here, this is like saying that only a doctor who has had cancer is fit to treat it.
---Cluny on 10/7/10


Great Analogy! Did I use the correct word there?

In any case, the issues in my divorce involve "trusting again" and "forgiveness". There may be others. I believe that GOD will restore my marriage.

I'm praying that, someday, my ex-wife, and myself, will get counseling about a reconcilliation.

I don't care if the counselor is married or not. Divorced or not. What I DO care about is their ability to teach on "trusting again", "forgiveness", etc.
---Augie on 10/7/10


Cluny ... it is not the same at all.

The cancer doctor has technical knowledge, gained from books, observation and training, to treat a physical illness.

But he has not sufferred the painfelt by a cancer victim, so does not fully understand it, and in that respect, he feels inadequate.

Christian counsellers are dealing not with fixing a physical problem, but a relationship. It must help if a counsellor has experience how to succeed in a marriage, and others may be better able to advise how to deal with a breakdown of the marriage, if they have suffered that.

I am sure that there are many Catholic priests who lovingly and successfully help people to succeed in marriage and cope with divorce
---alan8566_of_uk on 10/7/10


\\further ....if a mainstream christianity leader is not even married ...it is foolish and absurd to have a non-married person instruct or advise a married person about marriage ...it would be akin to having a minor child advise the parent on how to raise children\\

As I said earlier here, this is like saying that only a doctor who has had cancer is fit to treat it.
---Cluny on 10/7/10


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churches today should be relctant to step in ...no amount of effort on third parties could be "sincere" enough if the married couple is not

further ....if a mainstream christianity leader is not even married ...it is foolish and absurd to have a non-married person instruct or advise a married person about marriage ...it would be akin to having a minor child advise the parent on how to raise children

these non-married leaders could study for YEARS about idea of marriage however their opinions/idea's/thoughts are WORTHLESS

unless a leader is EXPERIENCED in marriage understanding by LIVING a married life they are not qualified on any level to offer their hollow text-book opinions
---Rhonda on 10/6/10


Donna, I agree with Cluny, which makes me nervous, however, does one want to learn from a person who failed at a marriage, or one who has succeeded and is succeeding.

If a person wants to succeed in the Olympics, should one seek a winning coach or a failing coach? ok, a coach may have failured before and learned from their mistakes. But I would still look for a winning coach. If one needs heart surgery, I guess we should look for a doctor who failed many times.

If a "pastor" failed in a marriage, I wouldn't go to him for councelling.

All this to say, one doesn't need to fail at a marriage to be a good marriage councelor.
---Rod4Him on 10/5/10


\\A doctor studies for YEARS about cancer. A Pastor does NOT study for years about how to counsel married couples in trouble...amen?\\

Nope. Not amen at all.

Some pastors (and others) have indeed studied for years about marriage counselling. (And not all pastors are qualified marriage counsellors. I'm not saying they are, obviously.)

Medicine and theology have both been considered learned professions. They require similar amounts of study to get their respective degrees.
---Cluny on 10/5/10


//That's like saying only a doctor who has had cancer can treat it.//

//Someone who has been in a bad marriage might sympathize, but this is NOT the same thing as counseling.//
---Cluny on 9/30/10

Cluny, I disagree. A doctor studies for YEARS about cancer. A Pastor does NOT study for years about how to counsel married couples in trouble...amen?

A Pastor's job is to lead, guide, Teach and encourage. A doctor studies, has to pass tests to get his license, then studies many years about cancer. Being that cancer is a disease, and marriage counselling isn't, you are comparing apples to prunes!!!
---Donna5535 on 10/4/10


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Hopefully "fascinator" is really meant to be fascilitator.
---KarenD on 10/2/10


It depends on the particulars of the case, Deuteronomy 25:1, Proverbs 18:17, John 7:24. Since this is an important subject, many Churches have marriage classes, some better than others. Most Bishops either lack wisdom in this area, or haven't learned good 'counseling' techniques. More than a few ministers are impatient, and are not willing to give more than a quick speech. As an aside, poor Pastors tend to send people that need counseling to good Pastors. Jeremiah 3:15, 10:21, 17:6, 23:1-2, Acts 20:27-28, Ephesians 4:11-16, 1Timothy 5:17-22, James 3:1, 1Peter 4:11.
p.s. Blogger9211 perhaps meant facilitator, as a fascinator would probably mean an enchanter.
---Glenn on 9/30/10


In the UK, and probably the USA as well, there are big issues of liability when you offer "counselling"
---alan8566_of_uk on 9/30/10


I think you've hit the nail on the head!

On the surface, it might appear that churches, their Pastors and counselors, are reluctant to provide help to couples. However, they have to consider the risks of being sued in the process.

This might have been "why" I wasn't involved in the counseling that my ex-wife had. Maybe the counselor convinced my ex-wife about something that just wasn't true and could be grounds for a lawsuit. I don't know.

However, I'm not one of the "just sue 'em" crowd. Instead, I'm praying that GOD will restore my marriage.
---Augie on 9/30/10


\\4. Try to pick a fascinator in a different town from where you live and attend to church.
---Blogger9211 on 9/30/10
\\

What on earth is a "fascinator"?
---Cluny on 9/30/10


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There are a number of rules people should follow in association with Christian counseling.

1. If the fascinator is not formally trained and licensed to be a marriage counselor don't use them.

2. Never use some one associated with your own church, you may end up being an unflattering sermon illustration.

3. Referrals from your own pastor are usually good, If you are uncomfortable with that use a local clergy association they can usually help you.

4. Try to pick a fascinator in a different town from where you live and attend to church.
---Blogger9211 on 9/30/10


Truth is they aren't living and obeying the word of God and don't know how.

We are to live according to the instructions God gave the Apostle Paul for us as Gentiles and they don't know it because they aren't lead by the Spirit.

Why do I say it they use OT and that is dead it died with the coming of John the baptist and he also was the last of the prophets.

As i am limited 125 words I cannot show you through scripture why I am right.
---Royll on 9/30/10


\\Only those who have walked in your shoes of a bad marriage can help counsel a bad marriage.\\

That's like saying only a doctor who has had cancer can treat it.

Someone who has been in a bad marriage might sympathize, but this is NOT the same thing as counseling.
---Cluny on 9/30/10


1) Because many Pastors aren't equipped in marriage counselling - my own Pastor, when I alluded to the fact that we were having marriage problems, his response was, "you'll do fine." We didn't, we ended up getting a divorce and I ended up getting beat up for 8 months of our marriage.

Only those who have walked in your shoes of a bad marriage can help counsel a bad marriage.

God says, "I will counsel you with mine eye upon you" and Isaiah calls Him the Mighty Counsellor.

We went to 3 marriage counsellors and none of them could save our marriage, so we divorced. It was painful, but necessary.
---Donna5535 on 9/30/10


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In the UK, and probably the USA as well, there are big issues of liability when you offer "counselling"

Intensive training is necessary, and expensive insurance!
---alan8566_of_uk on 9/30/10


There are many churches which offer qualified marriage counseling. However, this kind of counseling is only affective if both parties and open to help.

---KarenD on 9/29/10

I agree that BOTH the husband, and the wife, must be willing to receive help. I have tried talking to some couples. To encourage them to see a church counselor. It often seems that the wife is "very willing to do so", but many husbands "just say NO".

I think that the USA's "strong man" culture is what keeps many men from seeking help when they need it. Even when their families are hurting.

While I DO NOT support it at all, I can understand WHY some wives go hunting for another man in these situations.
---Sag on 9/29/10


In my experience it is the people who are seeking divorce who should approach their clergy.

People have certains rights which the church does not take away from them.
---francis on 9/29/10


Church counseling should be on Biblical teaching and is not intended to deal with serious emotional issues or mental illness. Often the problem in many marriages is one or both of the marriage partners suffers from such an illness, and really needs psychotherapy and a psychiatric evaluation.

This is what happened in my marriage. I needed psychiatric help in 1976, and instead we went to marriage counseling with a chaplain in the Army. He never advised us to seek psychiatric help. Other church counselors after that were pretty much the same...and my marriage deteriorated as I got sicker. I now will only go to a church counselor for Biblical counseling on the Bible...I see psychologists and psychiatrists for my mental illnesses.
---Trish on 9/29/10


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//My ex-wife divorced me AFTER talking to a church counselor. I was never told about, or asked to join, the counseling sessions.


Sounds like your ex-wife simply wanted to be told she had moral justification for dumping you.

I had a similar problem with a priest years ago. My wife and I got back together and the first thing I did was to tell him I was going to another parish.

All too often counselors simply tell the person what they want to hear as they really have no vested interesting in the matter.
---leej on 9/29/10


My ex-wife divorced me AFTER talking to a church counselor. I was never told about, or asked to join, the counseling sessions.

My divorce was because of: my working long, late hours that was making my ex-wife: anxious, depressed, lonely, suspicious, etc. Seems like a man can't even be a good provider for his family without getting nailed by some church staffers.

The church never offered to help resolve our marital issues. This failure, or reluctance, to reach out and help just shattered my faith in that church.

My guess is that churches want to remain neutral and politically correct with everyone. As a result, some folks like me are left behind.

I've moved on to another church that is more caring.
---Augie on 9/29/10


There are many churches which offer qualified marriage counseling. However, this kind of counseling is only affective if both parties and open to help. Experience has taught me that in the majority of divorce cases, it is only one person wanting the divorce and usually because that person already has their next mate picked out.
---KarenD on 9/29/10



I went for counseling & when I asked a pastor about self confidence, he said that SELF is a sin, the middle of SIN is I. he put me in bondage, weight on my shoulders, stumbled me. he gave me a snake when I was asking for a fish & shut the door on my face when I was knocking.
later, the parable of the stewards says the 1st 2 stewards had self confidence bec. they went out without fear, guilt to use their talent, while the last was afraid & hid his talent.
pastors are not counselors they just blame you & they are useless, don't understand the world bec. they DO NOT work but have money.
how can you do all things in christ when you don't have SKILLS.
---mike on 9/29/10


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Frank, may I ask, are you one of the people who needs help? If so don't answer here. Contact me at elder2291. There is help and support available. God Bless.
---Elder on 9/29/10


It is wrong for any church or Pastor to "step in" "even if not invited" when a couple in the church is on the verge of divorce. In spiite of some opinions of members not all Pastors are qualified to counsel,especially marriage counsling. A fellow member of a church I belonged to had a husband who was cheating on her,and she talked him into going to the Pastor together for counsling. The Pastor attacked her,said it was all her fault,although it was the husband who had a girfriend. She quit church,of course the husband divorced her,married the new woman and left three little children and wife behind to make it in the world on their own while he started a new life.
---Darlene_1 on 9/29/10


They may not know how. In my 33 years of experience in marital counseling & seminars, most of my clients were sent to me by pastors who first tried to counsel with people who had marriage problems. Much of the advice given was wrong or "Too little too late". It could also be that the married couple waited too long to get help. Their problems were serious, but may have made worse as a result of poor, but sincere, counseling. Pastor's are trained in the spiritual area's and not always in the area of marital counseling. This is specialized area and requires a person who has specialized in this area.
---wivv on 9/29/10


2 Timothy 2:4 says, "No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." A pastor needs to not get tangled in "affairs of this life" . . . "nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:3) And, during each sermon, a true pastor gives us what can help us do well in our marriages. So, the counsel *has* been given! And their *example* is there for us, if we have Biblical pastoring couples (1 Timothy 3:1-10).

The right people possibly *have* reached to the couple, but in private. Plus, possibly, there *has* been *prayer* reaching, but the couple has refused God.
---Bill_bila5659 on 9/29/10


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How do you know they are not stepping in? Perhaps many couples have been approached, but the offer has been turned down. Perhaps the couple has alraedy tried marriage counseling but have failed to reconcile their differences. Do you really know the intimate details of all of the couples and their ministers' attempts to help?
---Trish on 9/29/10


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