Teams offer the best pastoral care, not primadonnas. One particular reason has struck me recently — the complexity and depth of damage in some people’s lives in a consumer society can exhibit in a tendency to shop around. “I've tried 11 vicars — none of them was any good, so now I'm trying you, bishop.” Dangerously, this can hook into our own need to be needed, flatter our own sense of drama and, when the velcro attaches, we’re stuck — and so are they.
Ministry, and especially deliverance ministry, is one sphere of life where it really doesn’t pay to shop around. Every time a priest introduces boundaries to the conversation you bail out and find another, until, presumably, you can find one who mirrors your dis-ease perfectly = can reinforce your problem precisely. The only hope of healing usually lies in picking a small selection, if not one, taking the blindest bit of notice of any of them, and then sticking with the pastoral relationship for long enough for something good to happen. From the point of view of clergy, we can best offer help by communicating together and integrating care, not flying solo.
When people ask for deliverance ministry, it’s best to offer an organic integrated package where specific spiritual needs emerge as a strand within a holistic and relational approach, not zap-u-up pyrotechnics, silly voices, and cliché storylines from the Hammer House of Horrors. The whole key is not to make a drama out of a crisis. We centre carefully on the health, personal, relational, and spiritual realities involved, and go gently. Whereupon, I find, healing comes swifter and sooner than anyone usually expects.