— by Don Welch, Ph.D., LMFT
Dr. Welch left his full-time teaching post to move his family and Enriching Relationships, Inc. to California where he currently serves as Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Enriching Relationships™.
There has never been a greater need in the history of Christendom for pastors, theologians, Christian educators, evangelists, and counselors to work hand in hand than the present time. As people express unprecedented pain due to the modern-day complexities of life, Christian counseling has become a vital tool for mending fractured lives and nurturing spiritual health. There exists an unparalleled openness for Christian educators and Christian counselors to work hand in hand to serve the hurting masses.
We have more information and proven ways in which to organize and cope with life; yet people seem less able to manage life’s complex issues. Pastors today increasingly share their frustrations about the onslaught of needy and disconnected people knocking on their office doors asking for direction and guidance. As one pastor put it, “I have so many hurting people that I’m not sure where and how to begin; the life issues people are facing today are overwhelming.”
Although The Barna Report suggests that “marriage remains the most popular voluntary institution in our society, with about 85 percent of the population marrying at least once,”1 the rate of divorce in the church is outpacing the secular world. The Barna Report further suggests that “born again Christians are slightly more likely than non-Christians to go through a divorce. Twenty-seven percent of Christians have seen their marriage break up, compared to 23 percent of non-Christians.”2 Add to that an increasing number of children living in blended families and single-parent homes, and it’s easy to see why our society is experiencing unparalleled stress, pain, and confusion. One study reports that in divorced families, “approximately 16 percent [of fathers] manage to see their children as often as once a week.”3 With the growing number of latchkey children and our increasingly mobile society, the extended family plays less of a role than once experienced by the family. Our society’s children are expressing this deterioration of connectedness by turning on each other in anger, often with guns. Others choose to end their own lives.
Encouraging people to enhance both their individual relationships with God and their collective life relationships must be at the forefront of Christian ministry during the twenty-first century. There has never been a more demanding time in the history of the world to unite a counseling ministry with the ministry of the church. Working together to help the troubled and hurting in God’s church strengthens the entire body. Not only do people need to experience and relish God’s grace, but they also need to hone the relational skills necessary to navigate the treacherous waters of life.