Member Assistance Program

Our Sunday morning Bible study was discussing how our church could use strategic planning to reach more people with God’s Word. We practiced setting far-reaching goals and putting in writing the small incremental steps we could take to obtain them. My small group chose to brainstorm ways to improve our counseling services. For our far-reaching goal, one group member said, “What we really need is a full-time counselor that can meet with members!” She had a great point. While we certainly have members who would benefit from counseling services, for our small church of less than 200 members, having a full-time counselor would be a far-reaching goal financially.

The good news is that Christian Family Solutions provides churches with the ability to provide Christian counseling services through their Member Assistance Program (MAP). Churches that participate in MAP have an agreement with Christian Family Solutions (CFS) that the church will cover the cost of counseling services provided to its members. Members can either request counseling services on the CFS website or work through their pastor. Depending on the type of counseling that is needed, CFS will set up an in-person or online session with a counselor specifically trained to give counsel on the particular topic. Their services include counseling for individuals, couples, families, and substance abuse as well as career counseling, premarital counseling, and online support groups. They have clinics in a variety of states across the country, but their ability to set up a secure video counseling session means members can still receive counseling in places where there is no clinic.

How does this apply to you? As a health care professional, members of your church may feel comfortable confiding in you that they are going through a difficult time and may ask for advice. By being knowledgeable about the services provided at your church, you can help the member receive the assistance they need. You can start by encouraging members to speak to the pastor about their concerns. For someone going through a challenging time, biblical encouragement and comfort from their pastor may be beneficial. If necessary, the pastor can refer the individual to CFS. However, there may also be times where a member does not feel comfortable speaking to their pastor about a sensitive topic. In this situation, the individual may request an appointment online or by calling CFS.

Our small group sat silent for a moment after our group member’s statement. Then I spoke up and said, “We already do! Through the Member Assistance Program, our members have access to many Christian counselors for all of their counseling needs at no cost to themselves.” As we moved on in our activity, rather than brainstorming ways to financially afford a full-time counselor, we focused on making steps to raise awareness in our church about the program. What a blessing this is to churches!

Not sure if your church is part of the Member Assistance Program? Speak to your pastor. If your church is interested and would like more information, you can reach out to the MAP Coordinator Dan Nommensen by calling 800-438-1772 or by e-mailing assistance@wlcfs.org.

Allison Spaude currently works in the Medical ICU of Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., and serves as the Communications Coordinator for the WELS Nurses Association.

 

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