Starting May 20th, all LIFE Group leaders will begin trying to use the SOS and Care Plan Tools. Please read below for support on how to implement these tools. [NOTE: These tools come from Garrett Higbee and his ministry at Harvest Bible Chapel – http://biblicalsoulcare.org/uncommoncommunity
What Are We Doing Again?: An Overview of the Soul Care Process
As LIFE Group leaders, we have been learning how to disciple and care for our people through the use of some key “soul care” tools. Dr. Garrett Higbee uses a helpful acronym – C.A.R.E. – to remind us of this process of soul care. We first seek to relationally Connect with our people more deeply and to connect them more tightly together as a group. We learned how to use the GPS and Covenant Tools to open a dialogue with our LIFE Group about becoming a community of committed, vulnerable friends focused on helping each other grow in the grace and truth of Christ. Next we seek to Assess the condition of their hearts knowing that their struggles have arisen due to the condition of their hearts before God. We learned how to use the Heart Tree diagram and the Heart Revealing Questions in order to dig deeper into the reasons for why they do what they do.
Once we have established a connected relationship of trust and assessed some of the key issues of the heart by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we are able to now Respond to these issues with truth and grace so our brother or sister in Christ can heal and grow as a disciple. In order to do this, we learned another soul care tool called the CPR (Counselor’s Practical Response) Tool. Now we are ready to learn how to continually Encourage our people through the resources of the Church.
In the process of assessing and responding to the heart issues of the brothers and sisters you lead in your LIFE Group, you will want to know the severity of their struggle and the best resources to use in the church based on that severity level. Most issues can and should be handled in the normal Christian life experience of walking alongside fellow believers. However, sometimes things are so severe that more assistance is needed than what can be provided in your LIFE Group.
The SOS and Care Plan tools give you a clear way to determine the severity level and the next steps for finding help in the church.
How to Use the SOS Tool
SOS stands for “Severity,” “Ownership,” and “Support.”
Severity. As you assess the person’s circumstances, you first want to determine the severity level. Some issues might be at the “wisdom level” (for example, spouses struggling to agree on a tough decision). Others are at the “moderate conflict” level (fro example, spouses yelling at each other and throwing out the “D” word). Some might be at the “crisis” level (for example, spouses hitting each other; cheating on each other, etc.). At the top of the SOS chart, there is a number assigned to each level. If a person does not neatly fit in one of the categories, but is somewhere in between, you can see the numbers as a scale from 1-10. For example, a “3” might be between the “wisdom” and “moderate conflict” severity levels. Write down the number you determine suitable for the person you are helping.
Ownership. Next, you want to determine the degree of ownership this person has regarding their sin or any sinful responses to the suffering they are facing. Some people might be at the “repentant” level where they are humbly willing to acknowledge their contributions to the problems they face and confess that before God and others. Some may be at the “seeing sin” level where they acknowledge they have a problem but they have not yet humbled themselves to the point they are ready to confess it to God and others. Others may be at the “blameshifting” level where they refuse to acknowledge or confess their sin and blame others and God for their issues. At the top of the SOS chart, find the appropriate number assigned to their ownership level and write it down.
Support. Finally, you want to determine the the amount of support this person has from other people, especially Christians. Some people are at the “close to family” level where they have deep, vulnerable relationships that they can be honest with and receive soul care. Some are at the “some family support” level where they have few vulnerable friendships and are moderately open with their struggles in their LIFE Group. Others are at the “estranged from family” level where they have no close friendships and are not open in their LIFE Group or are not even involved in one. At the top of the SOS chart, find the appropriate number assigned to their ownership level and write it down.
Scoring and Next Steps. Total up all three numbers. This is the person’s “SOS Score.” A number from 3-9 can usually be handled in your LIFE Group with some special soul care attention given to them by you as their group leader(s). We still encourage you to seek wisdom and support from Pastor Jason and other Stonebridge Biblical Counseling (BC) team members. A number from 10-21 usually requires you to immediately seek out wisdom from Pastor Jason and the BC Team. It may be necessary for the person to receive formal biblical counseling from the BC Team. We still ask you to stay engaged with this person in your normal LIFE Group environment. We may have you or someone else in your group become an Advocate for the person in the counseling time. A number from 22-30 usually requires that you immediately pass the person over to the Pastoral team and Elders. The Church leadership will usually require that the person receives biblical counseling. We may still need you or someone in your LIFE Group to be an Advocate for them.
The “Care Plan Tool” will give some more clarity about how to use the resources of Stonebridge Church to minister to your LIFE Group members at various stages of struggle.
How to Use the Care Plan Tool
This tool helps you as a LIFE Group leader know how to handle the variety of struggles that will inevitably come up as you lead your people. You will notice that some of the terms used on this diagram are not used by Stonebridge Church. For our purposes, here are some points of clarification: 1.) We do not currently have “Flock Leaders.” These are leaders who oversee several other LIFE Group leaders. This may be a desired future for us, however. 2.) We do not have a “Family Pastor.” Pastor Jason, as the “Adult Ministries Pastor,” would function in a similar role as the “Family Pastor.” 3.) We call members of our biblical counseling team “BC Counselors” not “BSC Counselors.”
The diagram can be understood in the following way. When a person’s SOS Score is lower and they have a lower severity level and higher ownership and support levels, they can usually be ministered to in the normal environment of the LIFE Group. As the person’s SOS Score goes up along with their severity level, and their ownership and support levels go down, the person will need additional help. As a LIFE Group leader, you will need to consult with Pastor Jason (or someday, you may first consult with a lay “flock leader” or “LIFE Group Mentor.”) As the SOS and severity levels keep going up and the ownership and support levels keep going down, you will need to get the person involved in formal biblical counseling and possibly even a direct referral to the pastoral and elder teams.
We’ve come to the end of our Soul Care training…but this is not the end of your ongoing work of soul care ministry. We hope that this training has encouraged you to “excel still more” as a LIFE Group shepherd. Your people need you to Connect with them, Assess their heart struggles, Respond to them with truth and grace solutions from Scripture, and Encourage them to keep allowing God to transform them through the resources of His Word, Spirit and Church!
Thank you for being willing to be used by God for such an important work (Hebrews 6:10-12)!