Congregational Consultation and Trauma Response

Behavioral Covenants

When a pastor and congregation feel threatened by negative behaviors acted out by certain individuals, the mission and ministry of a church can become derailed and stalled. The negative behaviors create an atmosphere of fear and isolation that subtly takes over the thinking of church leaders. It is essential for congregational leaders to learn how to restore and maintain an environment of spiritual safety and sanctuary. This way a congregation's energy can be freed and focused on growing for Christ and caring for others. In this type of consultation process, Mark coaches a pastor and Task Force to articulate and assess threats and unwritten norms. They then work to identify caring norms and ideals and put these elements into a written document called a Behavioral Covenant that the entire congregation can affirm. This Behavioral Covenant acts to strengthen the pastor's leadership role, the elected leaders and the official decision-making processes in a local church and bring Christian charity, respect, and civility (holy manners) to church relationships and decisions. For this process Mark usually meets about 6 times with the Task Force with additional individual sessions with the pastor.

Trauma Response Debriefing

When trauma in a congregation is recent and clearly defined, a debriefing process can dramatically aid a congregation's rapid healing and capacity to move forward in its mission. The process usually involves two or three structured debriefing sessions with the affected families or groups, along with feedback and recommendations for continued care. Additional goals are negotiated between Mark, the Pastor and the affected persons. (2 to 6 hours of face-to-face time; additional time spent in session and final report preparation.)

Healing Consultations

When a church community has experienced historic trauma, a series of conflicts, rapid leadership changes or other indications of debilitating stress, a caring and empowering response can be a Healing Consultation. This process involves several highly structured sharing and listening sessions with groups of congregational leaders along with detailed feedback near its conclusion. Additional specific goals are negotiated between the consultant, the Pastor, and congregational leaders. (10 to 20 hours of face-to-face consultation time; additional time spent in session and final report preparation.)

Resource person: Mark Larson, D.Min.

Mission Statement

Being dedicated to the healing of heart, mind, and soul, we provide excellent emotional, spiritual, and relational health care to all people of the Carolinas.

Sanctuary Counseling Group is an accredited service center of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the Samaritan Institute.