A note from Kelly King: I received a voicemail yesterday. It was a ministry leader whose voice was cracking and emotional. Their church staff had just lost a much beloved man to a heart attack. Her message was honest and vulnerable—where do I get help? What resources are available to help women in my church deal with this grief? In today’s article, Kaye Hurta gives ministry leaders some practical and helpful thoughts on how we can help women through crisis.
How can I help? Those four words are no doubt familiar to you if you minister to hurting women. I have said them more times than I can count. In fact, in my role as crisis counselor for LifeWay women’s events, they are the first four words I speak when greeting a woman who is hurting. I said them multiple times last week in Seattle during our first Living Proof Live of 2018, and I will say them again in a few days at the LPL in Ft. Lauderdale. We all will say them often because women everywhere are hurting, and we all need help to navigate the rocky terrain of our pain.
If you are regularly engaged in helping hurting women, one of the most important ways you can offer help is by providing a vast network of resources. I’m sure you’ve already learned that you cannot do it all, and if you haven’t, let me be the first to say it, “You cannot do it all.” The woman coming to you is in crisis, but it is not your crisis. Did that sound harsh? We need to be compassionate and empathetic; however, we do not need to fix or react to her crisis. Slow things down and help her understand just how you are able to help her. I have learned the best way to do that is by focusing on two things: prayer and providing best next steps.
The importance of powerful, effective, believing prayer speaks for itself, but why is it important to be able to provide next steps? Similar to what we experience at our church, I’m certain the variety of needs you address is fairly widespread. On any given week, at our church we address abuse of minors or vulnerable adults, addiction, the need for a good counselor, doctrinal questions, domestic abuse, grief/loss, the need for hospital visits, homelessness, financial crisis, mental health concerns, parenting issues, prayer requests, relational problems, suicidal ideation, unplanned pregnancy, legal referral requests, and more. And remember, you cannot do it all.
So, how do you build a vibrant, healthy, helpful referral network, and what should be included?
- Start with workshops and classes that are offered by your ministry and other ministries in your area. Classes such as Recovery, Grief Support, Cancer Support, etc. are helpful. At our church, we are privileged to resource those who are hurting with many wonderful workshops, groups, and referrals both at Willow and within our community.
- Research organizations in your area that provide tangible help for those in need. Interview them and know exactly what they offer (housing, counseling, financial help, etc.). Include these on your list.
- Include medical services and doctors on your referral network.
- Always be ready to provide vital national hotline numbers (suicide, sex-trafficking, etc.)
- Include any other referrals that are specific to the primary needs of your local area.
- Have referrals to counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, biblical counselors, life coaches, spiritual directors, and need-specific groups. All of our referrals outside our church are pre-screened yearly by our Pastoral Response team, re-interviewed every 3 years, and all hold full and active state licensure.
Building healthy and helpful referrals takes prayer, effort, and time but it is well worth the effort! Armed with an effective referral network you can say, “How can I help?” with confidence that you will be providing the best next steps you can.
Next week we will look closely at the variations in counseling referrals, how to narrow it down, and some guidelines to minimize the risk of liability.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.