We want everything we do as pastors to result in the spiritual development and personal flourishing of those under our care. This could be taken to mean that everything a pastor does is counseling. But it is helpful and appropriate to distinguish between things like: one another care between members, general pastoral care, formal pastoral counseling, and professional counseling.

In this brief, eight lesson series you will be equipped with the basic categories, processes, and skills of serving as a pastoral counselor. The intent is to equip you to utilize your current level of awareness regarding particular life struggles to your fullest pastoral potential.

You can download the free PDF handbook that accompanies these videos. Thank you to Ministry Grid for recording and making these videos available.


These first three lessons provide the concepts necessary to understand key differences between general pastoral care and formal pastoral counseling. Additionally, these initial lessons equip you to shape expectations with the individual seeking counseling and navigate the relational dynamics that change when general pastoral care becomes formal pastoral counseling.


The first meeting is the most important meeting for counseling. Expectations will be managed, problems will be defined, and goals will be set. The density and intentionality of discussion in a first counseling appointment will set it apart from casual conversations.


If the first session identified “what” and garnered trust, the middle sessions identify “how” and facilitate progress. The transition from the first to middle sessions is a transition from understanding to movement.


In professional counseling, the last session is the end of the relationship. In pastoral counseling, the last formal counseling session is a transition back to a previous style of relating.