How to Connect with Churches | 11

How to Connect with Churches | 11

What do you need to do to connect with churches? How to you form relationships that will benefit from referrals? How do you talk with pastors?

In This Podcast


In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks about how exactly you should connect with churches and form relationships that will help with referrals.

Have you joined the mastermind yet?

Alison Pidgeon and Whitney Owens (both consultants at Practice Of The Practice) join forces to bring you an informative mastermind, geared towards building a group practice. Two different consultants with different experiences will help you bounce ideas off of and grow your practice in the best way possible. Join Start and Scale a Group Practice Mastermind!

Start with your own church

To begin making connections, start with the people in your own church.  Think about who people go to when they have a problem and meet with those people.

What about boundaries and dual relationships? If you’re feeling uncomfortable seeing people at your church, you don’t have to. If you have a small community church, it’s not easy seeing your clients on Sunday and knowing the ins and outs of their lives.

Larger churches are better and it’s easier to work with them. From the first call, you can ask them if they are comfortable knowing that they’re at the same church as you. Set the boundary before they begin counseling, saying that you will respect their privacy when you see them, and likewise, when you’re at church it’s your time with God and your family.

If you see someone often, for example, you’re in the same small group as them or see them regularly outside of counseling, it’s best to refer them.

Find connections with other churches through family and friends

These can be friends and family from different churches from you. Try to find a warm connection to other churches, a friend at another church can connect you to their pastor. Always mention what you do, and ask if you can connect with the pastor or youth pastor.

Ask your pastor for connections to other pastors

It’s more than likely that your pastor is friends with other pastors. Speak with them and ask if they know any other churches or people that would be interested in your services.

Introduce yourself to churches that are within walking distance from your office

Walk over and have a good connection with churches that are surrounded by you. Drop off a card and mention how close you are to them. This will give you a reason to pop over and it’s likely that they’ll refer people to someone that’s close by.

Search churches online and reach out to them

Get to know the church through their website, find ones that are growing, and reach out. You might not get as much success but it’s likely that one or two out of ten might be interested. Make it about a relationship. You’re going to get a rejection but that’s okay.

Making connections in person can also go really far. It’s about getting to know them and how you can serve them.

How do you talk to the pastor?

  • Be authentic. Have casual conversations like a lunch or coffee meeting.
  • Build trust and rapport with the pastor and ask about their pain points in their church. You are there to listen to them before sharing what you do.
  • Educate pastors on the benefit of counseling. I recommend having a meeting with parishioners more than twice for pastoral counseling, you should refer out.
  • Explain the benefit of counseling and your theory approaches and how that relates to the Bible and your faith.
  • Let the pastor know that you will be in communication with them and refer back to that person if the client has theological questions.
  • Share your story of faith and how you became a counselor.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your practice such as location, rates, specialties, hours, and more.

Keep up with the relationship. Reach out to the pastor at least every 6 months to keep the connection.

Useful Links:

Meet Whitney Owens

Whitney Ownens | Build a faith-based practiceWhitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same. 


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Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY]: The Faith in Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you start, grow, and scale your practice. To hear other episodes like the Imperfect Thriving podcast, Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to\network.
Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host, Whitney Owens, recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner and private practice consultant and each week on the podcast either through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your private practice with a faith-based perspective. I have some exciting stuff going on in the Practice of the Practice community that I wanted to share with you today before we get into the episode. Alison pigeon and I are both consultants through Practice of the Practice and we are going to join forces and offer a mastermind group together. So I find this to be really exciting because I feel like we both bring unique, I guess super powers to the consulting world and you’re going to have the opportunity to be a part of a mastermind where you’re basically getting two consultants, two people to run ideas by, being able to learn from two people that have been there.
We both offer different expertise, we run our practices in different ways and we have a lot of different types of experiences. So I’m super excited that we’re going to come together to offer you this. So we’re planning to start this group late in March, and so if you were interested or if you’ve kind of been on the fence about starting a mastermind, this is a really good time to take a step out and try it, but I’m happy to answer questions and concerns. I remember when I did my first mastermind, I was so scared. All that you have to give up to do a mastermind, right? I mean, I thought, “Gosh, that’s so much money to put forward. Is my practice really in the right place to start a mastermind?” I had other questions like, “Well, do I need to get these five things done before I started a mastermind?”
Honestly, guys, I hear this from tons of people that say, “Oh, well I need to get my website put together before I do a mastermind or before I start consulting,” or, “I need to make more money before I start consulting,” or, “I need to hire someone before I start consulting.” And yes, you might want to at least have a practice started or being the face of about to start, but consulting is always helpful. And, all of us feel that we have to be at a certain place to start. But if you feel that way, you’re never going to start. It’s kind of like maybe having children. You think, “Oh, well, you know, we have to have so much money,” or, “We have to have a house already, or, “We have to have a steady job.” And if you think like that, you will never have kids, right?
Well, at least with private practice, the mastermind group is what helps you have a better practice. So I’m going to get all biblical on you here, but Jesus about the concept of ‘Follow me.’ You don’t have to have everything ready and you don’t need to go bury the dead. I can’t remember exactly where that passage is, but He says, “Don’t go in and bury your parents.” Like you just need to do it now. And I’m not saying that to manipulate you and I want you to really think about your decision, but if you’re thinking, “I’ve been wanting to do a mastermind for a while,” but you’re also thinking, “I have these seven things I have to do before I can do that,” I want you to consider letting go of those things and starting a mastermind group or starting consulting because it can be super helpful and I can say that it helped my business and I’m making, ever since I started a mastermind that I had done, I was a small solo practice and I grew to five clinicians in two years and I was making 5.5 times the amount of income than I’d had before.
And it was the scariest thing to sign up for a mastermind. I prayed a lot about it. I had so many conversations with my husband about it and I actually, the cost of the mastermind when I was doing it was around $500 and that concept seemed like so much money to put forth, but looking back on it, I would pay even more than that for the value that I got out of the group that I was a part of. So I want you to consider this. If you want to jump on the phone with me or with Alison, either of us would be happy to do a pre-consultant call. We do this with everyone interested in the mastermind group because we want to make sure that we have the best fit for the group. So if you are interested, you want to jump on a call with me, send me an email, and let’s just talk about what your needs are because at Practice of the Practice, we never want people to be putting in their time and money and not getting out what they’ve put in.
We want you to have the best return on your investment and we want you to have the best practice possible because honestly by having a good practice, you live the life you want to live. And even Alison and I were talking the other day about the importance of having a mastermind group and learning from the group and changing your practice and adding clinicians and leveling up. It seems like a lot of work, and let me tell you, it is on the front end, but in the end you create a better lifestyle for you and your family. And Alison and are all about that. We’re both moms, we both have kids that are running around like crazy and we want to spend time with them and enjoy those years and not be so focused on the hustle. And we had to hustle at the beginning and now we’re reaping the benefits of seeing that. We want to help you get there.
So anyway, I will stop talking about the mastermind even though I’m super excited as you can tell, but we’re going to move into the episode. If you’re interested in the mastermind, please send me an email. That mastermind is going to start at the end of March, where right now I’m taking pre-applications for that and doing our free consulting interviews. So let me know if you’re interested.
Today’s episode though, I’m happy about as well because I get a lot of questions about how do I connect and market myself to churches and pastors? How do I reach out to churches? How do I talk to pastors? So today’s episode is a solo show where I’m going to give you tons of great information. There’s going to be a handout associated with this in the show notes that you can know how to do this in a step by step way. So let’s just jump right in to episode 11, ‘How to connect with churches.’.
So, I would love to talk today about some questions that I get asked often as a consultant in helping people build private practices on how do you find churches, how do you network with churches, how do you have that first conversation with a pastor? And so we’re going to kind of go into some of that and I can tell you about some of the positives and negatives, some of the bad experiences, good experiences and hopefully answer some of your questions about that. So let’s just dive right in. The very first thing is actually making the connection. So how do you find a church to make a connection? For any kind of faith-based organization, really, you can use a lot of this for other places in your marketing, but specifically talking about how do you actually find a church and make a connection.
So, here’s some points for you to take down and we’ll have this in the show notes as well. But first thing you want to do is start with your own church. Most of the people who have a faith-based practice probably have some kind of faith community that they attend and that’s a really good starting point. Maybe meet with your pastor or with whoever in your church is in charge of member care or who’s the person that people go to when they have a problem. A lot of church staffs, you already kind of who that person is. So start with that person, have a meeting with them and get to know them and then you can kind of make connections that way. A lot of people ask me though, what about boundaries and dual relationships when we’re talking about people within our own church community.
So, I want to speak to that. I think if you are feeling uncomfortable about seeing people at your church, just don’t do it. You don’t have to do it and there’s no pressure too. There’s plenty of churches, plenty of clients out there, so don’t make yourself do that. But if you’re wanting to see somebody at your church, here’s some ground rules I guess to think about. The first one is if it’s a really small community, and when I say small, hundred or less, maybe even 200 or less, it may not be the best idea to see clients there because you don’t want on a Sunday morning to show up and a client’s running up to you, telling you all about their week or about maybe something that happened the night before and then they need to get off their chest. That is very inappropriate. And so you want to do this at a comfort level that fits you. And I think for most therapists, we’d feel pretty uncomfortable in a small setting like that.
Now, if you have a larger church than that you could consider maybe seeing people within that community. I personally have seen several clients from my own church and I would say on a Sunday morning we hit probably about 300, 400 people. I make sure that these clients first of all, when they call for the first session or when they schedule with my assistant and if I see them on the schedule and know who they are, I give them a call and say, “Hey, I’m not sure if you’re aware that I attend this church. Are you comfortable with that?” You know, “What is that going to be like on a Sunday morning when you see your therapist? Or is that something that you want to be dealing with?”
So, we have that conversation on the front end. I also let them know in the first session what’s appropriate and inappropriate that just like we do with all of our clients when we review our informed consent on our policies and phone calls and messages that are reviewed that as well. When you see me in the community, I’m not going to be speaking to you. So if you see me at church, I’m going to be ignoring you for your privacy. But at the same time, if you want to come speak to me, you’re more than welcome to. But on a Sunday morning, I’d rather you not be speaking to me on a Sunday morning because that’s my kind of time to have with my family and to make connections with God and I don’t want to only want to be doing work when I’m at church.
So, I kind of talk to them about that that it’s okay to say hello but not to talk about personal things that are work-related while we are at that community. And fortunately I’ve had really good experience with this. Now if someone approaches me and wants counseling, which, this has happened a number of times that I have a connection with at my church. For example, maybe our children are in the preschool together or their child is in the youth group where my husband’s a youth pastor, or maybe it’s a teenager that’s wanting counseling and they’re in the youth group. Those are all big no-no’s for me because I don’t want to be seeing you on a very regular basis as a client. I don’t want to be in the same small groups with you and the same Sunday school classes. So if it’s someone that I have a very close relationship with, not just maybe bumping in on a Sunday, but actually maybe talking to or attending the same events, same stage of life, I go ahead and refer those to someone else at the practice because let’s make it as clean and clear cut as possible and not have those icky boundaries.
And usually people are really understanding when I explain that to them and why I’m referring them to someone else. And so I really, knock on wood, have not had any issues. I have definitely had a couple of clients who, of course my husband didn’t know that these were clients that always seeing and he’s one of the youth pastors at the church. And so sometimes he’s there on a Sunday morning helping out during the service and he’s had clients come up to him after the service to ask how I’m doing if they didn’t see me there. And they say, “Oh yeah, Whitney’s my counselor.” And he’s like, “Oh, okay. Kind of unsure how am I supposed to answer that.” You know, what do you see in [inaudible 00:11:52]? But they not say that. So it does become a little funny sometimes for him because he doesn’t know who I see and don’t see. So anyway, I think that those are kind of some really good ground rules for the size of your church. Is there a chance that you are at the same phase of life and are you really going to be connecting with this person in other outlets other than passing by on a Sunday morning?
So, we were talking about how do you actually find the church. So first starting with your own church and then after that, start finding connections to other churches. So it’s really not the best idea to just start passing out cards and brochures and cold calls because you’re really not going to get very far with those. And pastors are super busy, so they’re probably not going to respond to a cold call. So I think a good idea is to try to fund whatever connections you can to churches. And one of the ways that I’ve done that is if I have a friend who goes to a different church than me or maybe I have a friend who’s a friend of a youth pastor in town. So I use that to make a connection. Early, early on, when I started my practice here in Savannah, I was connecting a lot with youth pastors because my husband’s a youth pastor. So then he would have lunch or coffee with other youth pastors in the area and I’d always say, “Hey honey, make sure you mention me,” and so he would mention me and then I would be able to get that youth pastors number and set up coffee with them and make those connections. So connection through a connection is wonderful. So don’t be nervous about that. If you’re at a party and a friend starts talking about, “Oh I go to this church, yada, yada,” say, “Oh great. Do you know the pastor? Can I connect with them?”
Like just be bold about it because the church is out there looking for good Christian counselors to refer to. And if they don’t know about you, you’re not going to get those referrals. And so then they don’t know where to go and you don’t want them saying, “Oh, go online and find somebody.” Like let’s actually have a connection made so they can find you. So start first at your own church, then go to the churches of people that you already have connections with.
Another idea is speaking to your own pastor about what they would suggest for networking. So, “Hey, do you have another pastor in town that you think might benefit from services with me or would want to know about my services? Can you send an email to that person or make a joint email so you can connect us? Or maybe I could take you and him out to lunch so we can all have this connection.” So ask your pastor to connect you with other pastors because more than likely they are friends with other pastors.
And then another idea is to look around your office. So I know I’m in the Bible Belt. I literally have a church diagonal. I’m looking at it now. It’s right outside my office window. And we’ve definitely gotten referrals from there. I’ve even done therapy groups at their church just across the street. So I just, it’s kind of nice if they, and to see clients, I walked over and ran a CBT group and it went really well. So having a good connection with the churches that are within walking distance even of your office will go far. And I think those are times that you can kind of push the limit in this way of drop off a card. You know, you can walk by but I think dropping off things that are really close to your office to say, “Hey, I’m just two blocks down, would love to make a connection with you.” It’s a little more appropriate because you have a reason for going there because you’re in close proximity. So I encourage you to consider reaching out to the churches that are within a few blocks or maybe within a mile of your office because they’re going to want to refer people to you.
And then lastly, just go online and look for churches. I know that sounds kind of impersonal, but I’ve definitely made lists of churches in the area. I kind of look at which ones are growing, look at their website, see if they have counseling already there or not, and just start reaching out. Now I know that you’re probably not going to have as much success, but even if you have success with one out of five or one out of 10, that’s something. Ironically, just recently we’ve been reaching out to a couple of more places in town and my assistant called one of the churches that we found online. It looked like they were growing pretty contemporary, church looked like a new plant. So we thought, “Okay, well let’s reach out. They may not have anyone that they’re referring to.”
And as soon as she called, all she had to say was, “I’m a counselor,” and the woman on the phone immediately said, “Oh, we don’t need anybody to refer to.” And my assistant said, “I’m really just calling to make a connection to get to know what your church is all about and how we can maybe help serve one another.” And the woman was very taken aback because you know, we didn’t make it about, “Here’s my card, refer to me.” We made it about a relationship. And the woman said, “Oh well then I guess I’ll add you to our list.” But she immediately said, “We refer to this other Christian place in town. That’s the only place where we refer to.” And so we ended up not adding them to our list and kind of taking a step back. So you’re going to get rejection and I get rejection too. And that’s okay. You know, you’re going to move on and hopefully for every, like I said, every five calls my assistant did, hopefully one worked out for every 10. So don’t get too worked up into the rejection piece. Just move forward in the ones that are working and don’t waste your time on the ones that aren’t working.
So, once you’ve kind of started narrowing down some places that you can reach out to, like I really encourage you to make a list. And we’ll be able to have a worksheet attached to this podcast so that you have a worksheet that you can do. It’ll probably take you 10, 15 minutes, but it’ll walk you through the processes of this and writing down some places and how to make those connections. So I want you to, after find your list, then start actually reaching out. So try as much as you can to do that in person because you’re going to have a much higher chance of getting a yes if you do it in person. And I encourage you when you make this connection, it’s not about, “Hey, refer to me. Here’s my card.” It’s about, “How can I get to know you? How can I make a relationship? So when you see that pastor say, “Hey, can we get together for coffee or lunch?” I like to do this, just within the community. Like let’s say your child has a soccer game and you’re out there cheering on your kid and then all of a sudden you look over and you see the pastor from a church that you know. Walk over and introduce yourself.
Say, “Hey.” Tell them what you do. You’d be surprised how many go, “Oh wow. I’ve been looking for a counselor. I’m so glad I met you and we would love to refer to you.” And that would be spectacular. And then just say, “Hey, let’s get together and let’s hang out and let me tell you more about what to do.” Or you could just tell them about what you do right there at the soccer field. It doesn’t have to be so structured. It can be very casual. In fact, I’m reminded of the other day, I was at my child’s school and I was having a conversation with a friend and the principal overheard me say, “Oh, I got to get to work.” And he goes, “Oh, you work? I guess he thought I was a stay-at-home mom. And I said, “Oh yeah, I work.” And he said, “What do you do?” I said, “I’m a counselor.” And he immediately was like, “Oh, we need to know about you.”
And so, I think within two days I got a referral from him just by hearing me say, “I’m a counselor.” So it wasn’t a setup meeting. We just chatted for a few minutes, of course we did bring information by after that, but so it’s really good just having it in a casual setting. So try to do it in person and if you can’t get it in person call the pastor, ask to speak to him or maybe send an email to the pastor or to an assistant. But I would say phone call is number two and maybe an email number three for trying to get in touch with somebody. Or a lot of times I’ll call somebody, leave a message and say, “Hey, I’m going to follow up with you with an email.” That way we kind of let them prefer the way that they want to get in touch with you. But when you get in touch with them, you are saying, “Hey, I want to get together with you.”
So, it’s not, “Hey, will you refer to me? I’m a counselor.” It’s, “Hey, I want to get together with you, hear more about your church, and then talk a little bit about how we can maybe work together.” So after you have taken the time to set up this meeting, because they’re going to respond to you, you’re going to do it in person. You’re going to be so nice and friendly. They’re going to want to have lunch with you and c’mon, who does turn down a free lunch, right? So schedule that lunch, and let’s talk a little bit about what that’s going to look like. A lot of people say to me, “Oh, I’ve scheduled this meeting and now I’m nervous and don’t know what to do.” Well, don’t be nervous. Just enjoy having lunch with somebody. Like you don’t have to think of it as a business meeting. Think of it as a relationship, and the more that you think of it as a relationship, the more success you’re going to have in your business.
So when you get to lunch, have casual talk just like you would with a friend about your life and about your family, about how hobbies, activities you enjoy, maybe talk about the church that they go to in a casual way, the things you like about it or maybe the mutual connection you have. And then once you’re sitting down, ask this pastor, “Tell me about your church. Tell me about you. What are some of the things that you love about your community? What are your struggles within the community? What made you become a pastor?” These are all get to know you questions and trust building that you’re doing. We as therapists know what it means to build trust. We do it with our clients all the time.
So, consider how do I build rapport with my clients? How can I build rapport with this pastor? Say you’re going to sit with them and start building rapport here about their story, about their church, and asking about the pains that they experience in their office. So some examples of things that I hear from pastors, one of the big ones is marriages, that couples are struggling, conflict, divorce. So we see that a lot. Also parents that are having difficulty with their children, they’re going to pastors for that, seeing substance abuse as well. Pastors are saying people are having a difficult time with that. Anxiety and depression, and honestly, even at my church, that’s what I get the most referrals for, people who are feeling anxious and depressed.
So, ask the pastor, “What are the things that you’re seeing that come into your office?” And hearing from them, what’s that like for you? What do you say to them? Do you find that difficult or is that easy for you? And then I always ask them, you know, “How often are you meeting with people?” Now, some pastors will tell you, “I’ve met with this person for months,” or they might say a month, or I think all pastors kind of have a different idea of what they want to do as far as that kind of care for their parishioners. I encourage pastors that if you have to meet with somebody more than twice, you probably need to refer them out for counseling. Because honestly you have so many other things to do with your time and you need to be planning funerals and sermons and going to the hospital to meet with people.
There are so many things you need to be doing that if you were meeting with these parishioners one-on-one for very long, that’s going to take up so much of your time and energy. And in the kindest way possible if they don’t fully get it, I kind of talk a little bit about the difference between pastoral care and clinical care and that some issues that are clinical really do need someone who has expertise and talk a little bit about the skills. So I might explain how I do cognitive behavior therapy in session and what that is. I also will talk about the way that I make faith a part of that. So yeah, CBT isn’t necessarily a Christian perspective, but when we look at the Bible, there’s tons of stuff to be said for our thoughts and renewing your mind. And so being able to take those components and make them all come together like a CBT approach within faith is what we can offer to clients.
So, helping pastors understand that, yeah, we make faith a part of what we do, but we really do use clinical skills and clinical skills are really important. And you don’t just have a medical problem and go to a pastor for help with that without getting medicine or without going to see a doctor. And so just like that, with clinical skills, we need to also meet those clinical needs and then we can do the theological alongside that to an extent. And I also let them know that even though I’m here for clinical skills, like if a client comes and they have a lot of theological questions, I’m not going to pretend to be the expert at that. Like, “I don’t, I know some theology, but I didn’t go to seminary. You went to seminary.” And that’s what I tell them. And so they are going to be seeing people for theological questions and I’m going to be seeing them for clinical concerns.
So, if they have really deep theological questions that can answer, I’m going to refer them back to their pastor. And I tell pastors that and they really like the idea that I’m not going to pretend to practice outside my scope. And so I’m hoping that in the same way they’ll respect what we do and they won’t practice outside of their scope and they’ll send their clients to us and we’re going to have a working relationship.
Also, in the first meeting with a pastor, they’re probably going to want to know about you. And so you want to be able to share your story, maybe kind of your story of coming to faith, you know, did you grow up in church or did you come to church later in life? What kind of denomination, what church do you attend in town? They’re going to want to know all of that. So be able to share that with them, and maybe be able to share about why you went to counseling school and why you became a therapist and why that’s important in your vision for your business. That you’re wanting to integrate faith in what you’re doing and that you believe that healing comes in this way and that’s why you’re doing this. So be able to verbalize that in a way that makes you comfortable, not in a way that you have to sell yourself. It’s the way that you’re expressing who you are and what you do and it’s a very exciting thing. And so just enjoy that instead of feeling the pressure to sell yourself to a pastor.
And so, I also remind pastors that, “I want to work together with you.” Pastors know a lot more about clients before they come in, of course, than we do. And I’ve even found that when I do a release with a pastor, I’ll find out all this information about the family that I never even knew about, and that’s really helpful because the client might take a long time to say that but the pastor can say, “Hey, I know this person’s parents and this is what’s happened in the past and this is how long they’ve been attending our church.” And that could be really helpful. Now we don’t want to pressure our clients to sign a release for their pastor. If they don’t want to do that, they don’t want to do that and we can let pastors know, “Hey, I don’t have any release to speak with you about this.”
But a lot of times if a pastor refers some, they will send the release and you can limit the things that you do choose to share when they sign the release and remind pastors if you’re feeling like they’re too pushy and talking with you saying, “You know what I don’t feel comfortable sharing that or is probably not best for confidentiality, you don’t have to share everything. But I would get a release of information.” If you can from the client, and I let pastors know all that in this lunch meeting that I’ll get that release as much as I can and we’ll work together. I want to hear from you and you can hear from me and then we’re going to help this person to wholeness and they’ll love the idea of being a team with you.
And so those are some of the things that you’re going to be talking about in that first session and honestly you’re probably going to get some questions that you get from anyone that you’re talking to about the work you do; questions on location, costs, specialization. So you’re going to want to be prepared to answer those too. I do think it’s good when you go in for the first meeting with a pastor to have some material to give to them, maybe a brochure or your card because that way they have something to look at, something to take with them if they forget how to get in touch with you.
Now at the end of this time with pastors, I think back on the pain that they’ve shared at the beginning. Here’s some of the struggles that have come into my office. And so I started to consider how can I creatively meet that need? So obviously we can meet the need with one on one counseling and that’s wonderful, but maybe there’s some other things that you can do to be able to meet the needs of the community. I mentioned earlier the church across the street, I did a cognitive behavioral therapy group. It was, I think it was a six-week group that went to eight weeks. And I went through CBT skills and I brought Bible passages and theological components into the lessons, but mainly focused on the cognitive behavioral therapy.
And it was very effective and it helped a group of people within that church that were filling some anxiety and depression. And so maybe a pastor says to you, “Okay, well at the beginning of your time with them, a lot struggle with how to help couples that are having conflict.” And then you can say, “Hey, yeah, I can offer some therapy for them. But what if I came in and did a one or two hour seminar on communication and using eye statements? I mean, that wouldn’t take you very long to prep for and you’re able to offer this service. You know, you can choose to offer it for free or to get paid for it and then people are going to come and see that you’re the expert. They’re going to want to schedule with you after you do that, or maybe a pastor is telling you that, “Oh, we’re having a hard time with our children’s ministry because kids are having anxiety or maybe we’re having a hard time with our youth ministry because the kids are on their phones all the time, or they’re vaping,” or whatever it is that these kids are doing.
So being able to say, Hey, well I can offer this to parents or I can offer this education to teams and maybe talk to them about social relationships.” So there’s so much that you can do outside of the one-on-one. You can offer groups, seminars, workshops, retreats. I’ve mentioned this before, what we used to do, we do a class at our church in the springtime. It’s once a month from 4.30 to 8.00, couples come and drop their kids off. So it’s really perfect for couples that have children that are newly born all the way up to probably third or fourth grade. They drop the kids in the nursery, they attend a course from 4.30 to 6.00, and then from six to eight, they go on a date night and they walk to one of the restaurants.
We have a church, it’s downtown Savannah, so it’s really convenient to a lot of great restaurants. But the childcare’s included. I love it. Even me, I’m there teaching, so that’s great. I get paid and then at the end my kids are all getting taken care of and I get to go on a date with my husband. So, it’s a win-win. But anyway, during the 4.30 to 6.00, we do a course on different topics. The last one we did was on communication and then we give them questions to take on their dates and then they work on those during that time. Well, some people work on them, some people don’t. So try to be creative in what you offer.
And I don’t want you to think all this just is for churches. Think of other faith-based organizations that would benefit. So maybe an adoption agency that’s faith-based or a shelter that’s faith-based, could be a place for children who have been abused that they go to and you’re able to offer them services. So whatever it is that you can do you. You could also consider having partnerships with organizations and with churches, and I’ve done this in the past too, where that church or organization pays you a certain amount a month and then you offer them services for a sliding scale, or maybe you offer them certain classes. So maybe they pay a certain amount of money and anyone they refer to you get 20% off or 10% off when they pay for their services with you. Or maybe they pay more per month, you have a higher level package and you offer the discount for clients but then you also offer a class like, “Hey, I’ll come teach two, six to eight week classes during the year and you pay me a certain amount per month.” And it can be really effective.
I think that we were, and this was years ago, but we were pricing out, I think churches paid about a hundred dollars a month and we offered them a discount on anyone they referred and then that way we were getting their referrals. So you’d have to really think through how you want to price that because you definitely don’t want to put yourself in a bind. We had another package that we offered. They got the discount plus the classes and I think that was like $250 a month. And then the highest level package, they got two, six to eight week courses, a staff training, discount on referrals and one retreat. And that was $500 a month.
And if you can get couple of handful of churches to do that, then you’re looking at covering all your expenses for the month potentially. Especially if you have a group practice, then you’ve got multiple people that can offer these different types of things so it’s not all weighing on your shoulders as well. It’s really a great, it was a great thing that we did when we did it, but ultimately we ended up getting burned out because it was just me and one other person and it was a lot to offer. And I didn’t have a group at the time, but I think it’s a really great idea if you consider having these partnerships with churches.
So, we’ve kind of walked through how to fund the church, how do you actually make the connection, what do you actually do with the meeting? And then we want to encourage you to not forget about the connection. So keep in touch with these people that you’re referring to. Put it on your calendar if you have to put it on there every three months, every six months. But make sure that you’re reaching out so they know that you’re around, that they don’t forget about you. Maybe you want to have a text and just say, “Hey, thinking about you. How’s your church going?” It can be as simple as that, or maybe you want to have them back out for coffee. So don’t allow that to slip. And really another suggestion is don’t underestimate the value of the good clinical work you do and getting you more referrals.
So if you have a church refer someone to you and you do good work with them and you’re getting an ROI and you’re talking to the pastor, he’s definitely going to refer to you the next time somebody comes in or your name’s going to get out to other churches in the area of the work you’re doing. You know, another idea, I guess I didn’t mention this earlier, is if a client comes in and maybe they found you on Google or through a friend or whatever, but they tell you about a church they attend, see if you can get the ROI or just go connect with that church because that’s another way to make a connection. “Hey, I have a client that attends this church. Just thought we make this connection.” So it’s another way to do that.
Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email, Would love to hear from you.
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