Pastors can provide much help to individuals in acute crisis of all kinds. First, people who come to a spiritual leader for such help expect that the Bible and biblical methods will be used to alleviate the crisis. This is advantageous, as we know that there is no greater source of help and healing for those suffering emotionally and spiritually. Second, in the early stages of dealing with crisis, very practical help and direction is needed, from providing material needs, to giving direction in practical tasks that will help ease stress and worry. This can easily be provided by the pastor, or delegated to another minister or layperson following the initial session. Third, as people in crisis generally are in need of greater social and practical supports, the church itself becomes one of the pastor’s most powerful therapeutic tools. It is very likely that your church already provides a ministry that would make a direct impact on the situation, or that particular families in the church can be sources of practical and emotional support to extend the counselee’s network.
If a pastor recognizes that a person is in chronic crisis that is exacerbated by complicated grief, trauma, mental illness, substance abuse, or other stressors, it may be necessary to refer out to an appropriate service provider to address these issues while continuing to offer all of the benefits of pastoral care, spiritual guidance, and practical help. Therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, attorneys, and financial advisors provide specialized services to address social, legal, psychological, and biological factors that contribute to crisis.