Pastoral Care

A simple framework

  1. Connect- ask about highs and lows/ what they have been up to
  2. Discipleship Questions (if appropriate) 
    1. Faith: “How has your relationship with Jesus been… ? Has there been any spiritual disciplines that have been particularly meaningful?
    2. Community: How are things going with the people you care about? Your parents, siblings, friends etc
    3. Mission: Ask about their mission , ministry or calling – ‘What is God saying to you , and what do you think you need to do about it? How can I pray and support you in this?


Dealing with specific pastoral care issues

  1. Listen and ask questions that will help them to understand what the issue really is. “What makes this so difficult for you? 
  2. Explore solutions together
  3. Consider getting others involved to help. Maybe they need some professional help like a Nurse or Counsellor
  4. Pray with them
  5. Make a plan to follow up


Dealing with suicidal thoughts and ideation 

Check out the very helpful guide at

Ask about their experience – direct is best! The person should be 100% clear what you’re asking.
  • “Have there ever been times when you’ve thought about killing yourself?”
  • “Do you mind if I sit and talk with you about it” 
  • “How recently was the last time you had those thoughts?”
  • “Are you thinking about ending your life at the moment?”
Ensure Safety – if there are current thoughts of suicide.
  • “This is important, and I think we need some extra help with this – we could try sending a text to Youthline or The Lowdown together?”
  • “What can I do to help you keep safe for now?”
  • “I’ll stay with you until we can find someone else to help.”
Identify Issues – explore what might have led to thoughts of suicide, and identify strengths.
  • “What are some of the things that make you feel that way/like ending your life?”
  • “Do things feel worse at home or at school, or somewhere else?
  • “Are there things in your life that give you hope?”
  • “It sounds like you were actually showing a lot of care toward the other person, even though they didn’t see it that way.”
Observe – look out for changes in activity/personality, and possible anchor points to life.
  • “So you mentioned you’ve been drinking a lot more recently / I’ve noticed you not coming around as much anymore / Sounds like you haven’t had much sleep this week / You gave away your card set – I know that meant a lot to you?”
  • “Who have been the most important people/places for you so far? What would it take to reconnect with/visit one of them?”
Utilise Supports – connect to support people, both personal and professional, identify coping strategies
  • “What are some things that have helped you keep chill/brighten your day in the past?”
  • “Is there anyone in your life that you trust to talk about this stuff with?”
  • “Let’s figure out what you might say to them when you see them next”

For emergencies, dial 111
The Lowdown  – free txt 5626,
Youthline – free text 234, email, 0800 376 633
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Whatsup – 0800 WHATSUP (0800 9428 787)
Healthline – 0800 611 116