And the Fun Begins Again

Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary ( will start its 2017/18 academic year starting June 13th. Looking forward to it, as I will be teaching three courses I love.

  1.  I will be teaching Cultural Anthropology again. This will51TaxgU9G9L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ be for the M.Div. program. I will be using the book I wrote, “Ministry in Diversity,” as the main text book. Still trying to think about what project I want to do with that. Traditionally, I ask people to do either an ethnography or an RRA (Rapid Rural Assessment). However, we are doing some ministry work in a jail this year, and it would be an exciting exercise in sub-culture contextualization. Not sure yet.
  2. I will be teaching “Contemporary Issues in Missions.” This is a BTh course. I taught it years ago, but in more of a modular, rather than semestral, format. Additionally, the book I used back then is probably a bit long-in-the-tooth to be thought contemporary today. I may have to teach the course without a single textbook. I will probably make it more research-oriented.
  3. Celia and I, and maybe one or two more, will tag-team to teach “Clinical Pastoral Orientation.” It is a mini form of Clinical Pastoral Education, designed to fit a bit better into a semestral system. Might use our book “The Art of Pastoral Care” but not sure. It depends how many have already used the book for Intro to PC&C. This is a cross-over class in the sense that both Bachelor level and Master level students can take it.

My wife Celia will be teaching Intro to PC&C for the BTh Students. I will also be supervising theses and dissertations at Asia Baptist Graduation Theological Seminary, and thesis students at PBTS and Maranatha Graduate School.

My wife is working with Drug Surrenderers here in Baguio, and both she and I (and our team from Bukal Life Care) will be continuing to expand work in two jails here. Some people find it strange that I teach both Missions and Pastoral Care. However, I believe it is in places like jail ministry, and drug treatment, where Missions and Pastoral Care overlap quite nicely. It is also in such ministries where the argument that social ministry is not really missions is shown to be without merit.

It should be an exciting year. I am not sure whether I will be so busy that I can’t keep this blog updated, or whether the classes and ministries will inspire me to write more.


Pastoral Care Book Finally Finished

It has been a slow process. People keep asking when it will be done.

Principles of Clinical Pastoral Care in the Hospital and the Community.  Vol. 1          by Robert H. Munson and Celia P. Munson.  2016.

I serve as the administrator of a counseling center in the Philippines, and my wife Celia is a Clinical Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor. But I find writing on missions or anthropological subjects much easier. After about four years it is finally done. Just final proofing and then it will go up for publishing. It is more for the Philippine context but can be of use elsewhere. The primary focus is for Bible Schools in classes such as “Intro to Pastoral Care and Counseling” or “Clinical Pastoral Orientation.”

No Not Really Me… But It Could Be

Volume 2 is less than half done… but prayerfully it will take less than 4 more years.

Books and Things

The following is the Preface to the book


The primary purpose of this book is to provide an introduction to pastoral care, so that it can be practiced both in the community and the clinical settings. The intended reader is one involved in religious ministry (either professional or lay ministry) with limited background in pastoral care and counseling. Volume 2 continues what is covered in Volume 1 but more specifically to prepare the individual for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). This book may be used in conjunction with an “Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling” or a “Clinical Pastoral Orientation (CPO)” class. The latter is a more basic class in pastoral care than CPE but utilizes the training methodology of CPE. It is hoped that the book would be found beneficial to a wide variety of readers, regardless of their ministerial or educational situations.

Since pastoral care was founded within the Christian church, it is hardly surprising that Christian doctrine is interwoven into the guiding principles. That being said, it is hoped that the book will be of benefit to a wide variety of people of diverse faith traditions. There are a couple of reasons for this.

  1. Pastoral Care, despite its Christian roots, is today commonly viewed as Interfaith. Individuals from many different religions, and even those who may not be part of what is commonly thought of as a religion, may be involved in ministry utilizing many of the tools of pastoral care.

  2. Christian pastoral care workers will certainly be dealing with clients from a wide variety of faiths (including non-faith). The pastoral care provider will regularly be dealing with, and providing care for, clients outside of his/her own faith community. As such, it is useful to learn language, principles, and methods that cross religious lines.

Nevertheless, a pastoral care provider does draw strength and perspective from her own beliefs and faith perspective. In line with that, the writers of this book do, at times, utilize their own perspectives as well. This will be most evident in the theological section where certain aspects of Christian theology are emphasized as they relate to pastoral care.

It is further presumed that the pastoral care provider is finite and flawed. He (this book will go back and forth between “he,” “she,” and gender neutral pronouns) is finite because he has limited knowledge, skill, time, and understanding. He is flawed in that he is likely dealing with personal problems similar or even greater than those he is caring for. The fact that the care provider is finite and flawed is not bad – it means he is human. As a human, he has insights and shared experience that can be beneficial to the healing process. It is comforting to most people to know that all people have struggles. The pastoral care provider should not pretend to have no problems. The problems, if properly acknowledged, can assist. In fact, the care provider may find healing in working with help-seekers.


“Pastoral Care” versus “Spiritual Care”


I did a short article on Bukal Life Care blogsite regarding the controversy among some on whether one should use the term “pastoral care” or “spiritual care.” I do have strong reasons for preferring pastoral over spiritual, and list some here. I did not go into theological reasons, but I suppose what I have is enough. Feel free to look at it. But if you prefer “Spiritual Care” or “Religious Care” or something similar, that is perfectly fine. Use without guilt or shame.

Article Here

Resolving Pastoral Care and Missions (Continuation)

As I noted before, I am involved in missions in the Philippines. I teach missions, but I also am the administrator of a pastoral care and counseling center, and I am the registrar for a pastoral counseling certification organization. The goals of missions and pastoral care are often quite different so I have wrestled with this a bit. The first post noted the question on whether pastoral care is, in fact Christian. Pastoral care often utilizes “non-Christian” methodologies. Additionally, some people who are not Christians describe themselves as pastoral care providers. To me this was fairly easy to resolve. The next two are a bit tougher.

Resolution #2.  Can one actually do pastoral care for non-Christians? Some argue that pastoral care is meaningless unless the other person is already a Christian. I have, in fact, heard this one quite a bit.

It is built on a theological presumption that one’s spiritual journey starts from Salvation, continues through Sanctification, until ultimate Glorification. It takes a strong view of the Fall and Redemption. A different perspective takes a higher view of Creation. We are all created in the image of God and have some ability to respond to God’s call to change. As such the pastoral care roles of healing, sustaining, guiding, and reconciling are applicable when dealing with non-Christians.

This is ultimately a conflict of theological perspectives, both of which can find its Bible references. However, in missionary practice, the second viewpoint seems to be evident.

1.  Non-Christians do change. The lack of personal redemption and the Spirit of God in their lives certainly limits their ability for meaningful change, but that does not imply that all change is impossible. Jesus healed the body of many before He healed their hearts.

2.  Salvation is a process, even if Conversion is an event. As noted elsewhere with the Engel Scale and Gray Matrix, discipleship is a process that may start from a position of ignorance about and/or hostility with God, and continues towards steps of changes of attitude and understanding, through conversion towards growing as believer and follower of Christ. Since the process starts well before conversion, it seems foolish to presume that ministering to an unbeliever is useless.

3.  Many many many people go through a process of growth outside of what is commonly accepted in Evangelical churches. The Evangelical presumption is that an individual goes through three steps:  Salvation/Conversion, Joining a Faith Community, Discipleship. But for many (and even more for those from collectivist cultures) things often go in a different way. They start with joining a faith community, going through discipleship, and then at some point undergo conversion. This reality means that pastoral care occurs for such people prior to conversion.

4.  Related to the above points, many nonbelievers are ready for pastoral care before they are ready for conversion. They need to see change before willing to commit. Some people are willing to do a leap of faith prior to knowing where they will land, but most people need a taste of possibilities first.

I feel that pastoral care is applicable for unbelievers, and this is quite consistent with missions principles.

<The last question will be in the final post of this series.>

Resolving Pastoral Care and Missions

I am a Evangelical Christian Missionary serving in the Philippines. I also serve as an administrator of a pastoral care center ( and serve as the registrar for a certification program for clinical pastoral education. There are at least three big concerns that seem to come up in the realm of pastoral care that can cause conflict with Evangelical missions. I feel comfortable with where I have gotten to with regards to two of the issues. The third, I feel comfortable, for the most part, with the (creative) tension.

The three issues are:

  • Is Pastoral Care Christian? After all, many in the pastoral care movement utilize “non-Christian” methodologies. Some people who call themselves pastoral care providers are not even Christian.
  • Can one actually do pastoral care for non-Christians? Some argue that pastoral care is meaningless unless the other person is already a Christian.
  • (Bringing the two former points together) Pastoral Care generally does not involve evangelism. Often, practitioners are advised to not evangelize (especially if not asked regarding their faith). Is that a violation of Christ’s teaching?

Issue #1.  Is Pastoral Care Christian? The quick, and fairly obvious to most, answer is “YES.” But let’s take it further.   Pastoral Care has the classic image of shepherd and sheep, and its roots are as deeply embedded in the Bible as the concept of shepherding as a metaphor is similarly embedded. Pastoral Care has had the functional definition of “cure of souls.” The term soul here is not really as it is commonly used today. It is far more holistic. It could be translated at least as well as ‘cure of lives.” Its roots here are deeply embedded within church history. Clebsch and Jaeckle have described the basic functions of pastoral care as “healing, sustaining, guiding, and reconciling.” Others have added other functions such as nurturing, liberating, and empowering. All of these are well grounded in both the Bible and Christian history.

All this is good… but pastoral care has certainly broadened. In recent years, pastoral care has become more dependent of psychology. Psychology is seen by many Christians as a “godless” secular science. As such, it has no place for Christians.

The problem here is that there is an unnecessary and misleading dualism here.  As an Evangelical Christian, I take the following stand.

Christian Theology         interprets          the Bible             which is        God’s Creation

Psychology               interprets            the Human Mind         which is        God’s Creation

The problem is not God… who is integrated and consistent. The problem is not the objects of study of Christian Theology and Psychology. The Bible and the Human Mind, as God’s Creations, are consistent. At the same time neither is a substitute for the other. There are things about the human mind that are not mentioned in the Bible, and there are things in the human mind that are transcended in the Bible. As such, they are each valid objects for study.

The problem is our limitations. Our own perspective, finiteness, and basic ignorance mean that:

Christian Theology interprets correctly the Bible sometimes, and incorrectly at times.

Psychology interprets correctly the Human Mind sometimes, and incorrectly at times.

I believe that the Bible and the Human mind are both valid objects of study and are the work of God, but our interpretations of each through that study are potentially flawed. Therefore, we gain from healthy, and cautious, integration of these. Such integration can, sadly, lead people astray… but assuming one subject is completely correct and another is completely incorrect is hubristic, and is at least as likely to lead one astray. I do believe that many who are Christian pastoral counselors have fallen too much in love with psychological methods. They have at times, it seems to me, used psychology as an interpretive paradigm for the Biblical. This, I believe, is flawed. As Christians, our priority and specialty is God’s written revelation to us. But we are also souls (lives), God’s creation… and we cannot ignore the value in understanding this as well.

With this basic understanding, I think things become clearer.  Psychological methodologies are methods built (usually) off of empirical or theoretical underpinnings. As such, they can be useful or non-useful (or even destructive) to the extent that they correctly or incorrectly interpret the human mind… God’s creation. A pastoral care practitioner should be careful in any tool he or she uses. In fact, some methods that may be considered “Christian” may be based on a poor interpretation of the Bible as well. SOME in the Biblical Counseling movement and the Deliverance movement have done a poor job of Biblical interpretation by assuming that all problems come from far too limited number of sources (such as personal sin, or demon oppression). Such reductionism can be unhelpful, or even destructive, as well. A sound pastoral care provider must be cautious both theologically and psychologically.

Non-Christians sometimes describe themselves as pastoral care providers. That may annoy some Christians. However, there is no copyright on the term. Frankly, the use of the term by others is a bit complimentary since it suggests that the basic historical teachings and methods of pastoral care are seen a beneficial, even by non-Christians.

Summarizing the first point, I find as a missionary that pastoral care is a valid ministry, but must be dealt with intelligently, ethically, and cautiously, since it has tools from both the Christian and Psychology side that may have flaws due to improper interpretation of the Bible or the human mind.

<I will look at the other two questions in Part 2 and, I suppose, Part 3.>

Missiological Thoughts on Pastoral Diagnosis

As I have said before, one of my jobs in missions is administrator of a pastoral care center. So I have always been interested in the correlation, compatibility, and conflict between missions and counseling. This presentation utilizes the 7 benchmarks for pastoral diagnosis established by Paul Pruyser back in 1963. However, we put them in a logical order, as seen in the diagram, Looking at it, there is a correlation between this method of diagnosing and doing pastoral care, with evangelizing. The lowest tier is essentially “good talk” and understanding their beliefs, and social support system. One goes into tier two seeking to find out their felt needs, and connecting that with issues of faith and future. The top tier is exploring response, especially with regards to grace and repentance. I still need to think about how things correlate a bit more, since some of the terms are utilized differently in the pastoral care and evangelism camps.

An important thing that evangelists can (and frankly, must) learn from pastoral diagnosis is the need to understand the hearer, client, patient, recipient, help seeker. The agenda needs to be based, considerably, on their situation and their felt need.

Quote on Caring

“From the standpoint of faith, genuine caring is grounded in affirming others as persons of sacred worth, loved by God and destined for a future of God’s making. The shape of our caring is anticipated in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Caring means serving God’s desire and design for the other, helping the other to become the best that he or she is capable of becoming, in God’s sight. By contrast, in today’s narcissistic culture, people ask fervently: ‘How can I be sure that I will get what I want?’ The more important question to ask about life is ‘How shall I remain open to sacrificing for others and at the same time grow to become the kind of person God wants me to become?’ The answer to this question inevitably takes the form of a paradox: people who care about each other, genuinely and mutually, will find themselves by losing themselves for the sake of the other and for the Christ in the other.”

<Leroy Howe. “A Pastor in Every Pew: Equipping Laity for Pastoral Care”>

While the typical goals of outreach missions is SOMEWHAT different than that for pastoral care, the common need for genuine sacrificial caring is a common prerequisite to faithful service to God.