Congregational counseling training

Thirty pastors met this fall at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis., to be trained to work with congregations in the Commission on Congregational Counseling’s (CCC) Self-Analysis and Assessment Program.

Through this program, counselors take congregations through a process that helps them examine their ministry and make decisions about where they want to go in the future. “These aren’t outside experts who are coming in to tell you how to run your ministry,” says Rev. Jon Hein, director of the CCC. “These are guys who are trained to be good listeners, to facilitate conversation, to look at background information about your church and see certain things so they can ask smart questions.”

The program has four phases. First a congregation provides the counselor an extensive look at the congregation’s current ministry program, statistics, and history; its community’s demographics and characteristics; and its membership’s analysis of the congregation’s ministry through an online survey.

Next, the counselor visits the congregation for a weekend-long assessment. “The heart of this program is an all-day Bible study where a congregation really gets to think about what can we do to the glory of Christ in our community in various areas of ministry based on what Scripture says,” says Hein. Through information gathered from breakout groups at the Bible study, the counselor then works with the congregation to analyze how the congregation is doing in various areas of ministry—what is working and what needs improvement.

The counselor then takes that information home and puts together a summary report as well as recommendations for the congregation. Different modules—or virtual libraries of information—provide the resources that will help the congregation tackle an area it wants to improve. Then the real work begins for the congregation—implementing the action plan.

According to Hein, the whole process will take about a year. But the final goal isn’t just to complete this process—it’s to show congregations how to continue to analyze and assess ministry in the future. “This isn’t a magic bullet that when you’re done with the CCC program, everything’s going to be going well,” says Hein. “It’s not. In fact you’re going to be more acutely aware that things aren’t always going well. But you’ll also have an idea of how to address that.”

Currently 25 congregations are involved in the Self-Analysis and Assessment Program; 120 more have shown interest. Besides supporting the new counselors, Hein is continuing to gather material and to work with the Congregation and Ministry Support Group commissions to produce resources for the program’s modules.

Part of the Congregation and Ministry Support Group, the CCC works to assist congregations to assess and evaluate current ministry and to develop and carry out plans to adjust or expand that ministry.