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.
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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 counselling, 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 gonna get 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, specialities, hours, and more.
Keep up with the relationship. Reach out to the pastor at least every 6 months to keep the connection.
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Meet Whitney Owens
Whitney is a licensed professional counsellor 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 learnt 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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