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From the outset, let's be clear that I'm not talking about pastoral advice questions.

What I am referring to can be found in the question What expertise are we lacking? Mike's answer states:

I think we lack pastoral care doctrines. What I mean is there is a whole section of Christian books under 'pastoral care' and standard beliefs about the process of helping standard problems, like drug addiction for example. There is a way to have Q and A to identify mainstream practices. I think the subject must insist on published works though as it easily slips into discussing personal problems rather than identifiable and published standard church practices. Because of this problem we currently avoid questions that seem to be about this subject like the plague.

I think a subject like this is more valuable then sectarian quirks as it affects more people. Not saying it would be easy to introduce or even if it is feasible, but definitely an expertise is missing here.

I think one possible example would be the question, What are the "signs of grief" for which a pastor should be on the look out?

In general, are these the kinds of questions we want to encourage? If so, how can we encourage them, and what guidelines do we want to make sure are in place for them?

  • Would this question count as an example of this or no? Trying to wrap my brain around more concrete examples of what you mean. In my mind this is where Christian Faith intersects with Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, etc. – Dan Sep 30 '15 at 2:19
  • The key will be identifying in the question what type of sources are desired. Geek's specifications in that question are a bit vague, but pretty good. But they wouldn't fit well in the question title. – Nathaniel is protesting Sep 30 '15 at 3:28
  • @Dan I think yes. But that is part of the question -- if we do want to encourage these questions, what do such questions even look like? My point is that someone else identified a deficiency in the expertise of the questions asked so far, and I wanted to further tease that out without yet fully knowing what that person had in mind. – Mr. Bultitude Oct 2 '15 at 16:28
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    But "What are the signs of grief a pastor should look out for?" is not a question about Christianity. It's a psychology question. – Andrew Leach Oct 2 '15 at 19:17
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    @Andrew I don't think that's true, but I don't think that's really the point. With regard to this meta question, are you saying, "Yes, but that's a bad example," "No," "The example's applicability to the question is dubious so I'm reserving judgment," or something else? – Mr. Bultitude Oct 2 '15 at 20:07
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    @BearinaStudebaker I think the answer is "yes" we want these types of questions. The standard advice is to ask the good questions first and that will attract the experts... The problem is, I am having trouble thinking up questions that don't lead to broad/list answers. Like, let's pretend I'm a Lutheran pastor and want advice on how to help someone through drug addiction. It doesn't feel like "what are some techniques for overcoming drug addiction practiced by Lutheran pastors?" really works that well, so how do I ask a pastoral care question in a way that can be answered on-topic? – ThaddeusB Oct 2 '15 at 20:08
  • This is why that example is a bad example, but I suspect that any question is purely general. The way a Christian helps someone overcome grief, or a drug addiction, or whatever, is going to be broadly similar to anyone else, of whatever religion (or none). – Andrew Leach Oct 3 '15 at 10:11
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    Christianity addresses the whole person: body, soul, spirit, their vocations, their physical needs, their health, etc. A pastor has a warrant from the Christian religion to shepherd his flock concerning grief or drug addiction. That's not a psychology question. That's a Christian question that has interconnections with other fields, just like theology often intersects with philosophy or history. I agree that this site should have a method of answering these questions that isn't personal anecdote but isn't also artificially limiting. – Ben Mordecai Oct 7 '15 at 12:17
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    "What safety concerns should pastors know for sex offenders in their congregation?" An expert in the field should be able to answer that with a helpful answer that is a definitive as any other question on this site. This pertains to Christianity in that only Christians have churches and relate to one another the way that churches do. There is no more appropriate forum for this question. If scoping becomes an issue it could be edited to say "Evangelical pastors" or "Lutheran pastors". – Ben Mordecai Oct 7 '15 at 12:29
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    How is "How should I deal with a sex offender in my congregation" any different from "How should I deal with a sex offender in my synagogue" or "How should I deal with a sex offender in my philately club"? These questions are not questions about Christianity. They are far more widely-applicable than that. That's not to say that there is another Stack Exchange site for them; there may not be a site for these general questions. What it is saying is that this is not the site for them. – Andrew Leach Oct 9 '15 at 21:27

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