Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

Pastoral juxtaposition in spiritual care: Towards a caregiving faith theology in an evangelical Christian context

Victor Counted, Joe R. Miller
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 2 | a4630 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i2.4630 | © 2018 Victor Counted, Joe R. Miller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 May 2017 | Published: 31 May 2018

About the author(s)

Victor Counted, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, Australia and Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Stellenbosch University, United Kingdom
Joe R. Miller, Applied Theology and Leaderships, Southern California Seminary, United States


The problem for many troubled youths seeking help within a Christian context is that their need for meaningful connections and spiritual growth is attached to relationships with their significant others. When needs of attachment are not adequately met due to the effect of an insecure attachment working model in a relationship with God, the teen may end up leaving the faith community seeking a new caregiver or regress into spiritual struggles, depression, anxiety, self-doubt and other negative emotions. This paper responds to the issues associated with youth attachment behaviour towards God using a caregiving theology (i.e. pastoral juxtaposition) that draws on the ‘power of two’ through incarnational creativity and pneumatological ecclesiology. This proposed theology first supplements the work of the pastoral counsellor to create a transformative container through which young people, already within a redemptive Christian community, can grow spiritually and deepen their relationship with God. Secondly, pastoral juxtaposition targeting the spiritual needs of hurting youths serves to create a magnet space within the church community that models incarnational love, pastoral care and support for young people by entering their world order to reframe their personal stories of grief, abandonment and insecurity through creative means. Finally, we theologise that pastoral juxtaposition also integrates the power of the Holy Spirit, as the ultimate caregiver in times of conflict, into each youth’s unique journey of faith and healing. Implications of this pastoral theology are discussed and applied to everyday life.


pastoral juxtaposition; care-giving faith theology; attachment theory; incarnational creativity; pneumatological ecclesiology; evangelical Christian theology


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