Southern Baptist Child Care ministries “have been very productive in the vital work of creating faith-based community counseling centers,” Kelly Campbell, regional vice president with the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and member of the Executive Committee’s Mental Health Advisory Group (MHAG), reported to the group at its first meeting in 2014.
Working in partnership with local Baptist associations and congregations, these state convention ministries have sought to “respond to the needs of those struggling with mental health challenges,” he said.
Southern Baptists have been caring for neglected, homeless, and abused children and have been among the leading voices in the orphan care movement since the early 1900s when most Baptist children’s homes were founded.
Currently, Southern Baptists, through their state Baptist conventions, support twenty-three children’s homes in twenty states. The level of care for children varies from state to state. Some states operate residential care facilities, adoptive services, crisis pregnancy centers, and even international childcare services, while some provide foster care only.
“The needs of children and families have increased in complexity and gravity in the past few decades and the needs of the children in our care and the families we serve have changed,” Campbell reported, referencing a report prepared by Baptist Child Care executives for inclusion in MHAG’s final report.
As children’s homes ministries began to hire counselors to serve these needs, they discovered a great demand from pastors and local congregations for “professional counseling services delivered from a Christian perspective,” the report noted.
Responding to these increased needs, eight Baptist child care ministries have been able to form community-based counseling ministries.
8 The number of Baptist Child Care ministries that offer community-based counseling services.
81 The number of locations where counseling services were provided to members of churches and the community at large last year.
106 The number of professional counselors working with families from a Christian worldview and in a manner congruent with each ministry’s core values.
11,491 The number of individuals served by these counselors.
41,984 The number of hours of counseling service provided to individuals through the community counseling outreach of Baptist Children’s Homes, an average of 5,248 hours per center.
Six Observations from Child Care Executives Whose Ministries Provide Community-Based Counseling Centers
- Church counseling centers are often successful in very large churches.
- Such centers frequently do not succeed in medium and smaller churches.
- Church members may be reluctant to come to a counselor at their church for fear their confidentiality may be compromised.
- Counseling ministries in a non-profit setting are rarely self-sustaining, with the result that a counseling ministry will almost always have to be underwritten by the church or some other ministry.
- Christian clients take confidence in seeing supervisors who have been well-supervised and trained and are credentialed as Licensed Professional Counselors.
- While most pastors have the skill set and temperament to be effective counselors, few have the time or specific training to handle complex cases such as depression, extreme anxiety, past trauma, suicidality, self-mutilation, sex addiction, or other sexual integrity issues.