Founder’s Note

Dear Ministry Colleagues,

There are so many things in pastoral ministry that even the best seminaries can’t fully prepare us for- things that challenge even the most seasoned clergy.

When I felt the call to pastoral ministry, I also felt a strong calling from God to the specialized ministry of healing in the form of therapy and clinical psychology.  And God provided me the converging paths to pursue both an M.Div. and a Ph.D. in psychology – at the same time.  Equally called to the pulpit and to the clinical setting, I began taking my theology classes, often on the same days as my courses in psychology.  One semester, I remember attending a Neuroscience class in the mornings, and then a class on the New Testament in the afternoons.  Once, I grabbed my hand-written notes on “the synaptic gaps in the brain” too hastily, and accidentally brought them with me to my class on the “Synoptic Gospels in the Bible.”  But I decided to keep my notes the way that they were… After all, the two disciples of healing – pastoral ministry and psychological counseling – have a lot to say to each other, even as they are very distinct from one another.

In 2009, I finished my M.Div. and my Ph.D. six months apart, and in so doing, discovered that there was so much that wasn’t “being said” in the conversation between these two disciplines.  I was allowed to see the “blindspots” in each type of training program.  And so God prepared me to be able to support and train clergy in difficult, real-life situations within pastoral ministry.

The vision and mission of Shepherd Heart is to bring support and education to pastors and congregations, alike – when it comes to matters of self-care, healthy boundaries, ethics, pastoral care and counseling, education on mental health and the church, pastoral response to crisis, understanding systems dilemmas within the church, clergy mandated reporting of suspected child abuse, etc., etc., etc.  (You do so much, and wear so many hats – the list could truly go on and on.)  Shepherd Heart is a ministry consulting service* designed to help clergy and congregations through the hardest parts of ministry.

Sisters & Brothers in Ministry, there are resources available to you.  You are not expected to “go it alone” – in fact, you aren’t supposed to!  Through continuing educational opportunities, one-on-one ministry consultations, clergy care, and clergy support groups- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  At Shepherd Heart, I hope you find support for yourself and your congregation, as well as resources for practical help.

Reach out if Shepherd Heart can be helpful to you by calling 626-344-9609 (M-F 9am-5pm Pacific), or by emailing  We can set up an appt for a ministry service.

In the loving-kindness of our Shepherd,



Melissa Hofstetter, Founder

Shepherd Heart

*Shepherd Heart Ministry Consulting is intended for educational purposes and pastoral support only.  It does not provide psychological service of any kind, and is not a substitute in any way for mental health evaluation or treatment.  Appropriate referrals will be provided for these as needed, as Shepherd Heart does not provide these services.  (Out of respect for your parishioners’ privacy, please do not share any identifying information about parishioners in any of your communications with Shepherd Heart.)

Consultation & Continuing Education for Pastors