As our church grows, the number of people who have personal or family problems also grows. Some of the problems are so complex that their shepherds cannot handle them. Some have suggested that we hire a staff member who is able to provide professional counseling.
I am reluctant to take this path for two reasons. First, I am not convinced that professional counseling is more helpful than what happens through small groups like our house churches. Alcoholic Anonymous is an example of a successful small group type ministry. Second, there is a strong possibility that a professional counselor would have to spend most of his or her time and energy helping only a handful of people.
The need for a professional counselor on our staff will be diminished when Brother Soo-Kwan Lee graduates from seminary this spring. He is taking many counseling courses and will train shepherds and their wives to become better counselors.
But even then, some members may have problems that cannot be handled by shepherds or Brother Lee. They may need professional help. We now have someone who can help us in that area.
Sister Young Lee, who is married to one of our shepherds, graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a degree in counseling. She completed 3,000 hours of training and obtained a Texas license as a professional counselor. She received field experience by working as a counseling staff member for the First Baptist Church of Houston.
I am happy to inform you that she is opening up a private practice. Korean-Americans in Houston need a counselor who can communicate in Korean. Quite a few counselors have advertised in local Korean newspapers, but until now, I have not felt that any of them were adequately qualified. Sister Lee has the right qualifications and background.
Instead of hiring a professional counselor, we will use her service. If shepherds find their house church members have problems beyond their ability to help, they can refer them to Sister Lee. Our church will pay for the first three counseling sessions. This privilege is not offered to everyone, only those recommended by Shepherds’ Overseers. When house church members have serious problems, their shepherds will discuss their problems with their 0verseers. If the Overseers determine that professional counseling is needed, the house church members may go to the counseling center for a free consultation. If the members decide that further counseling would be beneficial, the fee for the first three sessions will be paid for by the church. Counselees must pay for subsequent visits. The fee is normally $120.00 per hour but will be reduced to $75.00 for church members. Furthermore, Sister Lee is willing to adjust the fee for those who need financial help.
Confidentiality will be strictly observed for every counselee. When the church receives bills for counseling, the church treasurer will pay the bill without asking for the counselee’s name, as long as it is signed by an Overseer.
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