BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the fifth of a several-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Updates on the Biblical Counseling Movement. We’ve asked several leaders of major biblical counseling organizations to share with you—our readers—what is happening in their ministries. You can read Part One here by Bob Kellemen of the BCC. You can read Part Two here by Jim Newheiser of the IBCD. You can read Part Three here by Wayne Vanderwier of OIC. And you can read Part Four here by Steve Viars of Faith BCTC.
The State of the Biblical Counseling World
Any time I consider, or I am asked, what I think of the state of the biblical counseling world I am immediately filled with hope and excitement. In fact, I would say I am ecstatic! At least that is what happens when I think of this question from a Godward and vertical perspective. As a pastor and a biblical counselor, my hope is grounded in the truth that as I am sitting face-to-face with a counselee I am confident, I mean overwhelmingly confident, that God has already provided all that I need to counsel and shepherd this person (2 Peter 1:3). It is true that I often struggle with how to apply the text of Scripture and how to diagnose what is going on in their lives by using the Scriptures, but I am completely settled in my conviction that the answer to their problem is right in my hand as I open God’s Word.
If I was trying to integrate the wisdom of the world, and the guidelines provided by the State, I would be tossed and tormented on what I should do and what I would say. I would find myself in a quandary trying to see how the two could work together. But, since as biblical counselors we have made up our minds that we are servants of the Savior and His Word, rather than an agent of the State, then I have every reason to be filled with hope about the role and ministry of biblical counseling.
On the other hand, if I think of the biblical counseling world from a horizontal perspective, and the contribution that we as men and women bring to the biblical counseling movement, I am often concerned. In fact, I would say I am grieved and brokenhearted. It troubles me when I hear someone say they are part of the biblical counseling world and that they do biblical counseling, and yet it appears that we are speaking two different languages. They may use biblical terminology, and include the term “biblical” and “Christ-centered” as they describe their counseling, but it is obvious that they have a different dictionary. When my mind turns in this direction, I am concerned that if we are not clear and precise in what we mean by “biblical counseling” that the world around us, and even those within the Church, may not see any real difference in what is called biblical counseling.
The Future of the Biblical Counseling World
I firmly believe that, when we as God’s people embrace a super-sufficiency of Scripture outlook, the future looks incredibly bright. I mean, what other outlook could we have if we believe that the Bible, God’s Word, has provided all that we as God’s people need for the moral and spiritual issues of life? When I think back to the early years of my counseling experience as a young new pastor, who was doing a church plant, there were only a few organizations that were leading the way in the biblical counseling movement. But today, things are different. Today the landscape has been dotted with biblical counseling organizations. And part of my joy over the past few years has been to discover other brothers and sisters who, though they come from various backgrounds and styles of ministry, have an equal passion to be used by God to counsel with the Word. They are men and women who have come to see the power and function of the Gospel, not only as it relates to justification in the past, but to the ongoing day-in and day-out battle with sin in our sanctification. That, brothers and sisters, fills me we an overflowing joy. My prayer, and the longing of my heart, is that God would continue to raise up an army of men and women who would stand together in unity on the super-sufficient Word and gospel of God.
How IABC Contributes to the Biblical Counseling World
As Vice-President of the International Association of Biblical Counselors (IABC), I’m excited to be surrounded by a group of godly men on our Executive Board that have the same heart and longing for the biblical counseling movement. Within our leadership we have practically lived out a commitment to stand on the things that are essential to biblical counseling, rather than on the things that are not essential. It has been a joy to see unity developed around the essentials.
During the past year, we have worked to define and develop what it looks like for us as a biblical counseling organization to train people to live and do ministry within the biblical parameters of grace and truth. In an upcoming publication that we have been working on, we have stated:
“IABC counselors are aware that to ignore grace would lead to inaccurate understanding of God, and deceptive counseling that would work toward perfectionism or behavior management based on performance. We are equally aware that to ignore truth would also lead to inaccurate understanding of God, and counseling that works towards humanism or liberalism based on emotions.”
As our new Executive Board came together this past year, we began working on some behind the scenes changes, not in what we believe or who we are as biblical counselors, but in how we do ministry. The IABC website has been updated, and a new and very resourceful website is about to be launched. We are pleased to be able to have office help in place each day throughout the week. In addition to our annual National Conference in August, we have scheduled regional conferences from the East to the West Coast.
I believe those adjustments that we have made will enable us to serve the biblical counseling movement better than we have ever done before.
Join the Conversation
How do you see the biblical counseling movement in our world? What do you think are the strengths and/or weaknesses that lie before us in the biblical counseling movement?