“Ministry is not something we “do” to someone else. It is a holy way of living toward God and toward one another.”- Kenda Creasy Dean, The Godbearing Life

The ministry of Pastoral Care is that “holy and compassionate way of living toward” the young people in our care that Kenda Creasy Dean describes above. It is being present for the young people and their families when they are in need. It is keeping them in our prayers, asking them how they are coping with a known problem, programming events that help them through the difficult years of adolescence, and finding them help when they have nowhere else to turn.

However, Pastoral Care is not counseling (unless you are a licensed counselor):

All youth ministers need to be pastoral caregivers; those who are professionally trained can also be counselors. There is an incredible difference. Pastoral care demands integrating sound theological principles with good interpersonal skills and programming. (It is not appropriate for untrained youth ministers to) make interventions or diagnoses, or to hang out a shingle that says ‘counselor.’ Pastoral Care requires strong self-knowledge, an understanding of the adolescent experience and family systems, and a caring stance toward the feelings of young people. Pastoral care provides support, guidance, confrontation when necessary, information, and tools for empowerment.”
-Sharon Reed and John Roberto, Pastoral Care Resource Manual: Connecting Pastoral Care and Youth Ministry, New Rochelle, NY: Don Bosco Multimedia, 1994. P. vii.