Study Says Pastors of Larger Churches Are More Likely to Prioritize Counseling and Discipleship

While a majority of Protestant pastors prioritize counseling and discipleship among their ministry meetings, pastors of larger churches are more likely to invest in these meetings, according to the results of a new study by LifeWay Research.

The Nashville-based researchers asked 1,000 Protestant pastors if they regularly have six types of common ministry meetings to: counsel church members; encourage members to step into leadership roles; meet individuals one-on-one to personally disciple them; meet with visitors or new attendees; lead a small group Bible study; or meet with two or three individuals together to personally disciple them.

While it was found that a significant majority of the pastors had at least one of these meetings a week, pastors of churches with attendance of 100 to 249 and those with 250 or more were found to be more likely to say they have meetings for counseling and discipleship more regularly than pastors of churches with attendance of 50 to 99 and those with less than 50 in attendance.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, told The Christian Post in an interview Wednesday that this result came as a bit of a “surprise.”

“On one hand it comes as a surprise that they’re not delegating that, especially something like counseling but  at the same time I think they understand as the lead face for the church that people are gonna turn to them in times of difficulty and they’re not neglecting that pastoral responsibility,” McConnell said.

“They are embracing it. A church of 250, 350 people, they’re gonna be a lot more of those needs coming up than a small house church of 25 people and so just doing the math, there’s gonna be more people more often with a crisis with deep questions that they’re gonna need to run by a pastor and the larger pastors are putting that time in,” he explained. “They are being that first line of contact. Even though in previous research we saw that many pastors do try to hand people off in terms of counseling to a professional after a couple of meetings.”

He said the aim of the study was to get a better picture of how pastors were spending their time when it comes to ministry meetings, and noted that it was interesting to see that, despite the range of pastoral experiences, most still prioritize discipling and counseling.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair