What are some general guidelines by which pastors can counsel and encourage women in the church?

  1. As a pastor, your goal should be to set up practical boundaries to protect yourself, the woman, and the church:
  2. You want to protect yourself from unjust accusations (1 Tim. 5:19). Moreover, pastors are to be above reproach, so you want to build in boundaries that ensure you will both be above reproach and be seen to be above reproach.
  3. You want to protect the woman from any potential wrongdoing on the part of any church leaders.
  4. You want to protect the church against any accusations a disgruntled member may bring. There are several practical steps the church can take to ensure these things which we discuss below.
  5. Have an ongoing ministry of raising up women to disciple other women.
  6. In rooms used for counseling, maintain a clear line of sight from a church receptionist or other staff directly to the pastor. Have the room positioned so that someone is able to see the pastor at all times.
  7. Have pastors do counseling only during office hours, with other people (e.g. secretaries, pastoral assistants) in the office.
  8. A pastor should be aware of his own heart and his own weaknesses, repenting of obvious things like lust, but also repenting of less obvious things, like the desire to be the emotionally caring hero.
  9. A pastor should be aware of the potential for a woman to make an unhealthy emotional attachment, and he should actively set boundaries to prevent this.
  10. A pastor should plan to talk weekly with another pastor about temptations his heart has faced in counseling women. 
  11. The church should speak up if the pastor is doing unwise things, or if women are feeling vulnerable or are being put in awkward positions.