Why a Theology for Pastoral Care?

churchministry.jpgPeople often ask me about the main course I teach at SAIACS, Pastoral Theology and Counseling (PT&C). So, here is a write-up about what it is about. Perhaps you may want to enroll and get your Masters degree at SAIACS in PT&C. There are several courses, but this one is foundational and seeks to develop theological rationale for professional ministry. It involves critical reflection on three types of nurture: pastoral care, pastoral counseling, and to a lesser extent, pastoral psychotherapy. Each of these disciplines of care plays a significant role in ascertaining and evaluating the different Christian traditions, personal skills, particular needs, and sociocultural contexts of caregivers. Attention is given to the Biblical principles, best practices. and goals of Church ministry.

This course enables the student to determine their pastoral identity and structures for specific ministries, as well as develop spiritual disciplines while expanding perceptions of the pastorate.  Exercises are designed to bring together the student’s (1) faith tradition and active spirituality, (2) knowledge of academic theology, and (3) the recognition of the concrete needs of people in a specific situation where the student ministers or plans to serve. Therefore it fosters passion for ministry, intellectual rigor, and is intentionally praxis oriented. With a commitment to openness, honoring diversity, and encouraging inclusivity, the course stresses experiences in faith communities that celebrates differences. Yet it also engages the particular gifts of the individual in mission. Pastoral encounters are made more than a source for critical reflection. They provide norms for formulating a viable contextual theology of ministry, bridging faith and action. The method of research is reflective, empathetic, and critical at once. This course study is situationally related and seeks to be transformative activity.

The following core commitments are attune with the department’s mission statement:
1. To identify & understand the essential tasks in pastoral care & theories behind Christian approaches to counseling in India’s pluralistic context
2. To learn from theological conversation by dialectically relating & allowing the  student’s professional ministry to shape their academic theology & vice versa
3. To enhance critical reflection on ministry in congregational, institutional, & specialized services in ways formative to the student’s pastoral identity
4. To gain a working familiarity with a variety of personality & psychological theories of counseling & engage in counseling processes & relationships
5. To develop criteria for discerning pastoral integrity & authenticity of diverse  contexts, perspectives and experiences within a host of traditions of care

1. Class attendance with prior readings, feedback, & participation in discussion
2. A detailed review (1000 words) of a book–analyze content, methodology used, theology, & issues you notice (10 %)
3. Preparing two critical thought papers (500 words each; 3-4 pp) on a contemporary issue in pastoral (a) care in ministry & (b) counseling (30%)
4. Presenting a written essay (2000 words) in class on assigned date on the given topic using biblical evidence and research methodology (30 %)
5. Final Comprehensive Exam (30 %)

1. Module is usually scheduled for January. Four weeks of classes with lectures, class discussions, debates & students doing research paper presentations.
2. Morning 3 Sessions–for classes
3. Afternoon sessions are for reading, assignment writing, & class preparation.

One comment

  1. Hi Chris

    I have read with interest about the course you run in India and because I have become involved with Pastoral work I would like to know if this course is available on-line or in any of the English University. I have now got a Diploma in Pastoral Counselling and also a Certificate in Christian Counselling both recognised by the Association of Christian Counselling (ACC) and am a member of the ACC. I am keen to learn more and in particular the theology involved with Pastoral Care and Counselling. If you could let me know if I can explore the possibility of doing this then I would be really grateful.

    Looking forward to seeing you all in June in Swanwick and give my love to the family.

    Prayerfully Yours


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