While dealing with the various crisis that come up in life and ministry are never easy – I want to share with you all a really good book I have found quite useful in helping address such issues as dealing with situational crisis, suicides, hospital emergencies, illness, death and dying, marriage issues, dealing with mental illness issues along with knowing when to refer someone to professional counseling and so on. I was introduced to it when I went through an introductory part-time Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) unit to fulfill a counseling requirement for Seminary.
The book is David K. Switzer’s Pastoral Care Emergencies (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling) (Ausburg Fortress, 2000). Switzer writes from a Lutheran perspective but how the issues are presented and the theological basis for pastoral care are hardly objectionable. He rightly sees pastoral care as both an attitude and an act. It’s not just something we do, it is also based on how we approach the matter. In essence, pastoral care (or Christ-likness-care as Dave Black puts it) is rooted in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and is the primary expression of what it means to be the Church. It is an expression of the whole life and purpose of the Christian community.
So, the questions come up, how do we deal with a suicidal person and how can we be one step ahead of them? How do I relate to a dying person? How do we comfort the bereaved? What about mental illnesses and divorce and what do I do when I get to the hospital for a visit or an emergency? Switzer deals with all this and gives good and useful information for what to do and what not to do, what to say and what not to say. Really, it’s’ good book and one that any Christian should think about having as a resource for ministering to others.