Oates Institute Announces Online Spiritual Care Skills Training Program for Lay Persons

Oates Institute Announces an On-line Spiritual Care Skills Training Program for Lay Persons 

The Oates Institute is very excited to launch our new Congregational Care Network featuring an on-line training program for increasing the spiritual caregiving skills of lay persons (non-professionals). We researched, tested, and validated the program, and it is ready to go.

Convenient, inexpensive, and accessible, this program has been designed for busy persons who want to develop skills in deep listening, extending accurate empathy, establishing clear boundaries, assessing needs, making effective referrals, taking care of self, articulating a theological basis for caring, and so much more. Participants will be guided by a professional staff with years of experience in a variety of settings including congregational, organizational, pastoral care, and counseling.

Each module lasts four weeks and there are six modules covering different topics and skills that may lead to a certificate of completion. The collaborative learning experience is conducted on-line via email exchange so that participants can work at their own speed and at times that are convenient to them.

In order to participate, a congregation under the leadership of a pastor or staff member will join the network. This congregational membership entitles the congregation to have one or more lay persons take the modules in consultation with the pastor or staff member. There will be a small fee for each module taken by each person.  The costs are as follows: large congregation (250 average weekly attendance) $500 annual fee; small congregation or organization (below 250 average weekly attendance) – $300 annual fee. Modules are $40 per participant. Congregations, organizations, or individual participants are responsible for purchasing some of the resources (books) used in the program. Supplemental readings from the Oates Institute are included when available and suitable.

Core seminars for the program include the following.

•    Introduction to the Lay Ministry of Spiritual and Pastoral Care
•    Boundaries, Making Referrals, and Caring for Self
•    Making Hospital, Nursing Home, and Home Visits
•    Grief and Spiritual Care for the Bereaved
•    Crisis Intervention as a Lay Spiritual Care Giver
•    Leading a Lay Pastoral Care Network Setting

Benefits of the program include:

    • empowerment of members to deliver competent, spiritual care;
    • assist pastor(s) by creating a cadre of trained and motivated spiritual care givers;
    • increase number of meaningful contacts to congregants in need;
    • assist pastor(s) in spiritual care giving

Participants in the Beta test groups shared some words of testimony:

This past few weeks have been wonderful! Life went on … and I enjoyed the readings. However, what was most valuable was the discussions. At first a bit overwhelming, although we were warned about how many emails would pop up, I was still wowed! But as I would read them – frequently at the end of a long day – I was refreshed and renewed. As I read of the experiences of others I learned. I also had an enriching prayer life as I offered prayers for comfort and thanksgiving based on the various situations others shared.

Thank you to the facilitators…enough encouragement and guidance to keep us on track. But also enough freedom to allow for the Spirit to lead us as we each shared from our own context and experiences.

This class has been inspiring for me. I, too, have had challenges keeping up with the reading even though the books are excellent! Life DOES get in the way for sure. The points of listening, being present, and teamwork were especially important for me to learn. The scenarios shared in the books were helpful in discerning appropriate actions on my part in situations of pastoral care.

Interested persons should contact Oates Institute Executive Director, Dr. Rick Underwood, rick@oates.org or 502-592-9050. We are eager to talk with people about how this opportunity might help for your congregation or organization.

We hope to launch the first open training group in June, 2017!

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