Three Modern Obstacles to Pastoring and Caring for the Flock

Three Obstacles to Pastoring and Caring for the Flock[1]

Pastoral Care

  1. The Individualistic Nature of the Culture.

            Example:         An attitude that basically says, “It’s none of your business.”

            Analysis:          The result is that people are islands of festering wounds. They are isolated, diseased, and
.                                      malnourished spiritually. Thus, most pastoral care is crisis oriented. Pastors and elders
.                                      are not called in to help until the crisis is well developed.


    • Get off the crisis/counseling treadmill.
    • Get “upstream”, i.e. do more preventative counseling combined with 6 months check ups.
    • Start one-to-one multiplying discipleship in the church
    • Take a spiritual inventory of the brother/sister’s spiritual disciplines. You and they will learn much
  1. Cultural Egalitarianism

            Example:       “Nobody can tell me.”

            Analysis:       The self as the sovereign over the universe. This can be in the form of unresponsiveness
.                                    to counsel from any source; the young not wanting to receive counsel from the old, old
.                                    not wanting to receive counsel from the young, the experienced not wanting to hear
                                  from the inexperienced. “I will be sovereign,” mindset.


    • Pray for their humiliation.
    • Patient instruction (2 Tim. 4:2b).
    • Consistent loving confrontation.
  1. Therapeutic Culture

.          Examples:        “My therapist says;” or “Doctor Dobson says”; “M/M say”; or “Steve Arterburn, says” or
.                                      “Promise Keeper’s” or “codependency theory says” or “My AA sponsor says” or “The Big
.                                      Book says” or “Henry Cloud says I need to set up boundaries in my life,” etc.

.           Analysis:          People who are bound up in this problem are living from within a worldview and
.l.                                    language that seems plausible to them but is rarely grounded thoroughly in the word of
.                                      God. They use a kind of code language that justifies bad behavior in light of their past,
.                                      their experience, their pain, their genes, their parents, etc.

.           Solutions:       

    • Pray for seeing eyes and trusting hearts.
    • Expose them to a theology of suffering.


  • Remember, all their lives people have been told by their culture, their schools and their own sinful hearts that “the problem” is “out there” rather than within their own hearts. This has led them to the mistaken notion that a change of situation or association is going to solve their problem. They are quick to run. Love them and be patient.
  • The reality is that, “Not every problem admits to an engineering solution.” (Ken Meyers)

[1] Stimulated by the 2000 and 2001 Bethlehem Conferences for Pastors.

© Marty Schoenleber, 2012, 2020.

2 thoughts on “Three Modern Obstacles to Pastoring and Caring for the Flock

    1. I think the same solutions apply and a great deal of prayer. Pastors are not immune to these cultural waters. They swim in them every day. But I think most pastors will respond to the kind friend who simply wants to pray for/with them and who models humility and teachability to them. They may be blind (at the moment) to the problem in themselves but they will recognize the real thing when they see it in others.


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