Pastoral Ministry and Psychotropic Medications

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Consider this tension:

  • Pastors are not medical professionals and, therefore, should not give medical advice. This seems clear and straight-forward, BUT
  • Pastoral silence on the issue psychotropic medications reinforces the idea they are bad for Christians to take.

This begs the question, “Is there a way for pastors to speak responsibly about psychotropic medications, in a way that is not giving medical advice, but in a way that provides church members with a sense of moral freedom to wisely assess whether medication may be a good fit for their life struggle?”

The answer seems to be “yes” but the “How?” can be unclear enough that that the “should” or “possible” never becomes a reality. The result is more silence, resulting in more stigma, and less discipleship about when medication may be a helpful tool in stewarding one’s body.

This is why I’m excited to be leading a discussion on this topic at the Ministry Leader’s Breakfast hosted by Bridgehaven Counseling Associates on Thursday, May 3 (RSVP information below).

Here are four questions we’ll be considering together:

  1. How do counselors try to differentiate situational causes of a life struggle from more biological causes of a life struggle? Our answer to this question may not be as definitive as we would like, but having a clearer answer to this question will help us be less all-or-nothing about psychotropic medications.
  2. Does taking psychotropic medication reduce or enhance the opportunity for spiritual growth when working through a life struggle? We will examine what it means to disciple people who are embodied-souls and for body stewardship to be part of spiritual maturity.
  3. When, how, and where should discussions of mental health and medication come up public ministry discussions? Often we visualize these kinds of public comments (i.e., sermon, teaching, social media) as being much more technical and awkward than they need to be. In order to be effective, they need to be both spoken in common language, clear, and comfortable.
  4. If someone asks me about the wisdom of taking medication in a pastoral counseling conversation, how should I respond? Too often we think the honest answer “I don’t know because I’m not a doctor” means “I have nothing to contribute to this conversation.” If a pastor is awkward or avoidant in this conversation, it makes the church member feel like psychotropic medications are either (a) something they should avoid, or (b) something irrelevant to their spiritual development.

If these questions intrigue you, I hope you will join us. If you know a pastor or ministry leader who would benefit from thinking through these questions, feel free to invite them. Bridgehaven is excited to be a biblical counseling resource for all of the churches and Christian ministries in RDU.

May 3, 2018 from 7:30 to 9am
Ministry and Psychotropic Medications?

Host: Bridgehaven Counseling Associates
Location: Storr Office Environments, 10800 World Trade Blvd; Raleigh, NC 27617
Breakfast will be provided

You can RSVP by e-mailing Neale Davis at