6 years ago I dislocated my left knee pretty bad. Every since I’ve had lots of problems in that knee and leg. There’s a constant pain that keeps me from running and it’s not uncommon for my knee to give out on me randomly. I’d been to a couple of doctors who didn’t help me very much. About a week ago I decided to give it another try.

The physical therapist was great. He was quick to assess where I was at and determine my range of motion (something the other doctors I went to never did). At the end of the exam he showed me what exercises I should do to strengthen my knee and upper leg muscles so there’d be less pain and more mobility.

At the end of our time together he wrote down what we agreed to with diagrams of how to do the exercises he had just showed me and a time when we would follow-up to see how I was doing.

I left his office more encouraged about my situation then I’ve ever felt in the last six years. As I drove home I began to wonder what it would be like if I pastored people the way this physical therapist treated me? What if I wrote a plan with people, complete with instructions on how to go about doing what we talked about doing, and scheduled a time for follow-up?

It sounded like a great way to approach ministry. Here’s what I walked away determined to do more of for families:

Write a plan together they will follow through on and I will follow-up on.

As a pastor who sometimes teaches I’ve heard stats for years now that people forget 75% of what you say to them within 48 hours of hearing it. I’m not sure how true that is, but it sounds about right.

So that’s why we create notes and handouts and other resources to help the people who are listening to our messages to help with retention. But why, knowing what we know and believing what we believe, don’t do that when people come to us for counseling? If they’re not going to remember most of what we say in a sermon the odds are just as good they won’t remember most of what we say in a session.

How helpful would it be if, after talking to someone about their marriage and what they can do to make it better, we explained (in detail) about the exercises, disciplines, and activities they need to start and stop doing to have a great marriage, wrote the basics of that down so they didn’t forget, and scheduled a time to check in and see how they’re doing? I think something like this could help save marriages.

And it doesn’t just need to be limited to marriages. Something like this could work with depression, interpersonal conflict, restoration, discovering your life purpose, and deepening your relationship with God. It doesn’t need to be fancy. I can be as simple as writing some bullet points down on a legal pad, making a photo copy, and giving it to the person. Over time you could even develop templates on key issues people are struggling with and edit them on a case by case basis so you don’t always have to start from scratch.

Some people might shy away from this kind of approach because it sounds too clinical. If writing things down helps people remember and if they remember they’ll be more likely to do it then why wouldn’t we want to write it down? Just imagine how much time it could save you and how many lives could be helped if we added this component to our counseling.

What are some common issues you help people with that you can put templates together for this week?


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