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Pastoral Counselor Preparation in Evangelical Seminaries

December 12, 2012

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Abstract

Survey research over the past three decades indicates that pastors trained in M.Div. programs believe that: a.) seminaries are responsible for training them in pastoral counseling—the personal ministry of the Word, b.) their seminary insufficiently trained them as pastoral counselors in the local church, and c.) they are unprepared to function in the role of a pastoral counseling “generalist” in a local church setting.

To address these issues, this paper will examine: a.) the purpose of seminary pastoral counselor preparation in M.Div. programs: how should the seminary training location and the local church ministry setting impact and impart a distinctive pastoral counseling identity? b.) the theology of seminary pastoral counselor preparation in M.Div. programs: what view of the Bible shapes the way pastoral counselors form their theology and methodology of pastoral counseling? c.) the pedagogy of seminary pastoral counselor preparation in M.Div. programs: how could Evangelical seminaries in M.Div. programs equip students for pastoral counseling formation so that they think Christianly (content) and counsel effectively (competence) out of growing personal maturity (character) in the context of local church ministry (community)? d.) the curriculum for seminary pastoral counselor preparation in M.Div. programs: given that the average seminary M.Div. curriculum allows for one course in pastoral counseling, and at most two in some select cases, what should be taught, why, and how? e.) the educator for seminary pastoral counselor preparation in M.Div. programs: given the purpose, theology, pedagogy, and curriculum of pastoral counselor preparation, what credentials best qualify the seminary professor to equip pastoral counseling students for the personal ministry of the Word in the local church?

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