Promoting PErsonal Change, Centered on the PErson of Christ through the PErsonal Ministry of the Word
Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

Two United Ministries of the Word

Pulpit and Personal Ministry of the Word--Two United Ministries of the Word

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the third of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Uniting the Pulpit Ministry of the Word (Preaching/Teaching) and the Personal Ministry of the Word (Biblical Counseling/One-Another Ministry). This series demonstrates that both preaching and biblical counseling are Word-based ministries. While helpful to pastor-teachers, this series is beneficial to everyone who counsels and to everyone who sits under the teaching/preaching of the Word and receives Word-based counsel from others in the Body of Christ. In Part One, Pastor Kevin Carson described how preaching helps counseling. In Part Two, Pastor Steve Viars explained how counseling helps preaching. Now in Part Three, Pastor Kevin Hurt pictures the beautiful synergy that occurs when these two Word-based ministries are united.

The Disconnect

I would imagine that when we think of the public preaching of the Word (the pulpit expositional ministry of the Word) that most often takes place in our churches on Sundays and when we think about the topic of counseling (the private ministry of the Word), there is often a disconnect. I would say there are disconnects between the two at several points.

In some people’s minds, the preaching of the Word is one thing and counseling is another thing. To those who see them as distinctly two different and distinct things, and there is a measure of truth to that which I’ll discuss below, the reasoning goes like this: Preaching is something that we all need, but counseling is something that those people who have “real problems and issues” need. Preaching in the pulpit is done by the “preacher,” and counseling is done by the “counselor.”  When there is a disconnect between the ministry of the Word in the pulpit and the ministry of the Word in a counseling session, we have failed to see how the two are designed to connect, support, and assist one another.

The Connection

When we think of the ministry of the Word from the pulpit and the personal ministry of the Word in counseling, we should see them as connected. They are connected by a belief in the all-sufficient and life-changing power of the Word. Both have confidence in the Spirit of God to work in the hearts and lives of those who are hearing the Word of God. The difference in the two is in regards to the “method of delivery,” “the context in which it is delivered,” and the “communication style” when the Word is presented. Let me explain…

To use a Southern cultural concept (which I am part of), I would say that the pulpit ministry of the Word is like firing a shotgun. Through the accurate and faithful exposition of the Word, the Truth is scattered over a diverse group of people. Pellets of the Truth hit those folks who are hearing the Word proclaimed in various ways as the Spirit of God is at work convicting, encouraging, illumining, and empowering them to make change in various areas of their lives.  This is indeed a wonderful work as it relates to the public preaching of the Word. Only God could take the clear exposition of His Word and apply it and tailor it to fit the various needs throughout the congregation that is hearing the Word of God.

On the other hand, the private ministry of the Word, also referred to as biblical counseling, is like firing a rifle (there goes my Southern analogy again). Whether it is in a formal setting in a counseling office or in an informal setting at a coffee shop or at someone’s home, specific Truths from God’s Word are now being aimed at specific situations in that person’s personal life and for that specific time in their life. This is something that does not, and I would say cannot, happen in the larger context of the public ministry of the Word.

From the Pastor’s View

As a pastor who is entering his twenty-sixth year of ministry in the same pulpit, I have seen firsthand how these two ministries of the Word work wonderfully together. While I am preaching from the pulpit, I often will notice those in the congregation being affected by the ministry of the Word. My heart goes out to them, and at that moment I want to walk down from the pulpit and ask them, “So what’s going? What is the Lord speaking to you about?” Of course, that is not possible or practical to do.

But on the following day or later in that week, either I will follow up with them or they will connect with me. When we sit down together, the ministry of the Word continues. What God used in the larger context of the ministry of the Word is now continued and deepened as the private and personal ministry of the Word is applied. As we sit down and practically work out how the Truth of God’s Word can be lived out in their life and in their specific situation, further and deeper transformation is taking place. So, as a pastor who by my calling strongly believes in the public ministry of the Word, I have found that I can never separate the private ministry of the Word from my calling. They are truly, by God’s design, two united ministries of the Word.

Join the Conversation

So, let’s hear your story. How have you seen the ministry of the Word from the pulpit and the private ministry of the Word work together? It may be that you are a pastor and you do both.  It may be that you sit under the preaching of your pastor and you are called to do biblical counseling. I’d love to hear your stories and how you have seen the public and private ministry of the Word work together.

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Local Church Ministry, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , ,

Reminders of Our Insufficiency

Pulpit and Personal Ministry of the Word--Reminders of Our Insufficiency

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the second of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Uniting the Pulpit Ministry of the Word (Preaching/Teaching) and the Personal Ministry of the Word (Biblical Counseling/One-Another Ministry). This series demonstrates that both preaching and biblical counseling are Word-based ministries. While helpful to pastor-teachers, this series is beneficial to everyone who counsels and to everyone who sits under the teaching/preaching of the Word and receives Word-based counsel from others in the Body of Christ. In Part One, Pastor Kevin Carson described how preaching helps counseling. Now in Part Two, Pastor Steve Viars explains how counseling helps preaching.

Counseling as a Reality Check

Recently a young man from our community asked if he could speak with me privately. In our meeting he explained that he had struggled with cross-dressing since his teen years and wondered out loud if there was any hope or help for him. I was both fascinated and saddened as he told me that he felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. He went on to tell how his young wife had just learned about his secret lifestyle and was devastated. He was filled with guilt, shame, and hopelessness.

Never Heard That from the Pulpit

I love the public ministry of the Word, but I’ve never had anyone yell out while I’m preaching—“But pastor, I’m struggling with cross-dressing.” The process is one-sided and I often wonder what my listeners are really thinking and feeling. Yes, people sometimes send questions and responses later that week, but it rarely takes on the intensity of counseling. In one-on-one sessions, people lay it all out there in ways that are emotional, vulnerable, painful, and deeply troubling.

Helpful in Many Ways

Spending time in the counseling room each week helps me be better prepared to preach for many reasons. Perhaps the greatest one is the regular reminders of my own insufficiency. I’m thinking especially of Paul’s words to the Corinthians when he rehearsed a number of challenges to life and ministry and then exclaimed, “And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16). That kind of authenticity is often the way I feel as I listen to the stories of broken people and then consider my own meager resources in and of myself.

The End of the Process

Thankfully, Paul did not leave us there. He went on to say in the next chapter, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). Nearly every counselor knows those moments where we are crying out to our Redeemer for the help and wisdom we need for our fellow sufferer. We admit to our counselees that we desperately need the Lord’s help, and we join arms and run to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). Something marvelous—yes, supernatural—happens in those moments. The Lord shows Himself to be sufficient in all sorts of ways in those moments.

The good news is, Sunday is coming. We have another opportunity to address our church family on the Lord’s Day. But that recent counselee is with us—in the back of our minds as a fresh reminder of our own insufficiency. We find ourselves approaching the pulpit not with “This is going to be a great sermon,” but instead with “Who is sufficient for these things?” I think that is a healthy way to approach the process, especially if we can allow the dependency and confidence we found in the counseling room to direct us as we preach. With Paul we joyfully proclaim, “Our sufficiency is of God.”

Join the Conversation

In what ways does the personal ministry of the Word (biblical counseling, one-another ministry) remind you of your absolute need for God’s all-sufficient wisdom and power?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Local Church Ministry, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , ,

What You Hear on Sunday Helps You Counsel on Monday

Pulpit and Personal Ministry of the Word--What You Hear on Sunday Helps You Counsel on Monday

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the first of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Uniting the Pulpit Ministry of the Word (Preaching/Teaching) and the Personal Ministry of the Word (Biblical Counseling/One-Another Ministry). This series demonstrates that both preaching and biblical counseling are Word-based ministries. While helpful to pastor-teachers, this series is beneficial to everyone who counsels and to everyone who sits under the teaching/preaching of the Word and receives Word-based counsel from others in the Body of Christ. Today, in Part One, Pastor Kevin Carson describes how preaching helps counseling.

How Preaching Helps Counseling

Weekend corporate worship impacts every aspect of personal ministry throughout the week. On the typical weekend, people learn, questions are answered, relationships are built, and help is offered for living in the midst of a broken world.

Public teaching as part of corporate worship constructs the necessary parameters for private ministry in various capacities among the members of the body. Sunday morning messages set the agenda, provide the content, and cultivate the context for personal ministry throughout the rest of the week.

How does Sunday morning help you counsel on Monday?

Setting the Agenda for Personal Ministry of the Word

Weekend messages help set the agenda for personal ministry throughout the week. Weekly the congregation hears a compelling description of God’s purpose for life—to become more like Christ. The congregants become increasingly aware of God’s desires for them in the midst of various life pressures to grow and change.

Through this teaching, the pastor-teacher equips the believers to do the work of the ministry and to build up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). Building up the Body of Christ essentially relates to each individual’s challenge as part of the Body to grow in Christ. The process which describes this change is progressive sanctification. As the attenders learn this process, they begin to understand God’s agenda for them to change. By implication, they also learn of their responsibilities to help each other grow and change as they speak the truth to each other in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Providing the Content for Personal Ministry of the Word

Weekend messages provide the content for personal ministry throughout the week. The pastor-teacher through the pulpit ministry teaches congregants biblical truth which grows the congregation in the unity of the faith and knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). The teaching process provides the content necessary for the church to be able to speak the truth in love, which is their duty.

Key issues of content that help enhance personal ministry throughout the week include the following sampling of pertinent subject matters:

  • Union in Christ: The relationship “in Christ” after salvation.
  • Power of the Gospel: The ability in Christ to live consistent with what God desires.
  • Love of Christ: The motivation for living life in a God-honoring way.
  • Grace: The call and comfort of living in Christ.
  • One-Another Commands: The instruction given to help believers live with each other in love.
  • God’s Character and Conduct: The basis for trusting God’s promises and living by faith.
  • Person and Work of Christ: The living Word of God we imitate in daily life and practice.
  • Power and Presence of the Spirit: The believer’s comfort and source of strength.
  • Sin and Suffering: The various pressures of life fit within one of these two categories.
  • Put Off and Put On: The daily response to identifying areas of needed growth and actively pursuing living righteously in Christ.

These various areas of content help provide the necessary foundation from which personal ministry happens. As congregants understand the Bible, conversations flow from known theology. Individuals comprehend what matters most in the midst of pressured circumstances because they share a fundamental corpus of truth which provides for them key biblical ideas whereby they grow in discernment and insight.

Cultivating the Context for Personal Ministry of the Word

Weekend messages cultivate the context for personal ministry throughout the week. The environment of the church promotes an agenda of grace and restoration (Galatians 5:13-6:10; Titus 2:11-15). The entire milieu encourages real life change through personal conversations and lifestyle choices between brothers and sisters in Christ.

Vital to this conversational ministry is the development of authentic relationships among the membership. These relationships provide the atmosphere where truth can and will be spoken in love. There is a passion to see each other grow in Christlikeness together. Each member does his or her part because together they desire God’s best in each other’s lives (Ephesians 4:15-16).

The Pulpit Ministry of the Word Benefits the Personal Ministry of the Word

The pulpit ministry of the Word benefits the personal ministry of the Word. As each pastor prepares the weekend teaching, it is necessary to keep the end in mind. The goal of preparation is to clearly communicate the meaning of the text in an effort to provide the agenda, content, and context for personal ministry where people begin to live out the implications of the text together.

Join the Conversation

How is your church doing? Do your church members participate in each other’s lives in an effort to love and live the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do they speak the truth in love to each other as they live out the one-anothers of the Scriptures? Do they use God’s Word to help each other maneuver through life’s suffering and sin? Where do you see evidence of people restoring each other to usefulness in the body?

If you don’t see those things in your church, possibly you need to consider the style, quality, and passion of your weekend messages. In the process of assessment, consider the content of what you are preaching. Are you sharing the vision with your church of life together honoring God as part of each other’s life? Are you communicating a passion for the agenda of growth and change? Are you sharing the message with clear applications and implications for daily living?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Local Church Ministry, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , ,

BCC Weekend Resource: Premarital Counseling Session 1: A Theology of Marriage

The BCC Weekend Resource

A Word from Your BCC Team: On weekends, we like to highlight biblical counseling resources from our growing library of free resources. This weekend, we’re highlighting a new resource by Dr. Deepak Reju— Premarital Counseling Session 1: A Theology of Marriage. This is part of a multipart resource series that Deepak, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Families at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, has made available to you through the BCC.

You can download the full resource for free here.

Topics: People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Premarital | Tags: ,

Friday’s 5 to Live By

Friday's 5 To Live By

Each Friday our BCC staff links you to the top five biblical counseling and Christian living blog posts of the week—posts that provide robust, rich, and relevant insights for living.

Overcoming Pornography

Randy Alcorn begins a three-part series related to pornography, with Part 1 being: Overcoming Pornography: Choosing Obedience.

Facebook, Parenting, Pictures, and Our Hearts

Tim Challies begins his post by rejoicing with those who rejoice on social media as they share pictures of their children. Then he begins to probe with us whether our parental pictures of our children can sometimes reveal heart issues—whether we see our children as people or as a prop that props me up so others think highly of me as a parent. Convicting… Read Tim’s challenging thoughts in What Is Your Exit Plan.

3 Wonderful Promises

Jay Adams distills three wonderful promises from 1 Corinthians 10:13, in a post entitled There’s Always a Way.

Trust in the Lord

Julie Ganschow shares what we can do when tempted to fret instead of trust. Read her edifying thoughts in Lessons from Psalm 37.

The Test of Trials

How we respond to trials reveals much about the health of our heart. Paul Tautges explores tests, temptations, and trials in The Test of Trials.

Join the Conversation

Which post impacted you the most? Why? What blog posts have you enjoyed this week that you want to share with others?

Topics: Five To Live By, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 Reasons the Church Should Do “Counseling”

Local Church Equipping--2 Reasons the Church Should Do Counseling

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the fourth of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on equipping biblical counselors in the local church. Today, Tim Lane takes us on a pre-journey. That is, before we can equip counselors in the church, we need to address the question, “Should churches even do ‘counseling’?” You can also read Tim’s post at his site, here. In addition to Tim’s post, you can read Part One in this series, written by Andrew Rogers, at 15 Ways to Give Hope in Biblical Counseling, Part Two by Jim Newheiser at 8 Ways Biblical Counseling Centers Can Reinforce the Local Church, and Part Three by Tim Allchin at 4 Ways to Use the Internet to Train Biblical Counselors.

A Common Question

In my travels over the past 12 years (and 15 years of campus and pastoral ministry before that), I have had the privilege of talking with countless pastors. Given my obvious interest in pastoral care, I regularly get asked a simple but basic question from people in ministry. It is then followed by an interesting statement. “Should I really try to “counsel” people or should I find someone who is an expert to whom I might send people for help?” “After all, I wasn’t trained in counseling in seminary.”

Why should a local church and its leaders seek to incorporate counseling within the context of the local church? It seems like a major distraction from the more important matters of church life and mission. Won’t counseling distract the church from being truly missional? Might it move the church to become insular and self-focused? Shouldn’t counseling be left to professionals who are highly trained to deal with people’s problems?

These are all good questions that deserve an answer. Here are two reasons a church should counsel.

#1: The Biblical Meaning of “Counsel”

Before we begin, we need to define our terms. The word “counseling” is a very distracting word. For the past 100 years, it is a word that has been associated with secular therapy and highly trained/skilled experts with degrees. They are also governed by state and national agencies that insure “best practices” in the helping professions. Unfortunately, the church has not engaged the “soft sciences” as it should have. Still, the word “counsel” is a word that is found all throughout the Bible. Just take Psalm 1:1-2 for instance. Notice the usage of the word “counsel”:

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…But his delight is in the law of the Lord…”

Other translations use the word “advice” for the word “counsel.” In other words, the concept of counseling or giving advice is as old as the human race. We are meaning makers and meaning seekers. We need advice and we offer advice. If this is an aspect of being made in God’s image, it would follow that God is very concerned about what we refer to as “counseling” or giving advice. In Psalm 1, the distinction is drawn quite starkly. One is often giving or receiving good or bad advice. In light of this Psalm alone, it is imperative that the church be in the business of “counseling.”

#2: The Biblical Mission of God’s People

As Christians, we are on a mission. In John 17:18, Jesus says, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus came on a courageous mission of compassion to rescue us from ourselves and to restore all things. He did this as the incarnate Son of God. He did not preach a message from heaven but instead “became like us in every way” (Hebrews 2:17) though without sin.

When a church commits to counsel people, they are saying that they are willing to get down in the trenches of daily life and love people with the redemptive compassion of the Incarnate One. They are saying that good preaching, as important as it is, is just the beginning of ministry of the Word not the beginning and end. Ministry of the Word that does not connect at the level of people’s sins and sufferings in a rich and meaningful way is insufficient. It fails to fully display the amazing compassion of the God of Scripture. A church should counsel if it wants to demonstrate the compassion of Father, Son, and Spirit.

While different messages for change and human flourishing abound, the church must speak and demonstrate the power of the Gospel as it addresses issues endemic to the human condition.

Join the Conversation (Added by the BCC Staff)

What are additional reasons why the church should do “counseling”?

Topics: Local Church Ministry, Pastoral Resources, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

4 Ways to Use the Internet to Train Biblical Counselors

Local Church Equipping--4 Ways to Use the Internet to Train Biblical Counselors

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the third of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on equipping biblical counselors in the local church. Today, Tim Allchin talks about how we can use the Internet to expand the reach of our biblical counseling equipping ministries. You can read Part One in this series, written by Andrew Rogers, at 15 Ways to Give Hope in Biblical Counseling, and you can read Part Two, by Jim Newheiser, at 8 Ways Biblical Counseling Centers Can Reinforce the Local Church.

Online BC Training

In the past few months, the Biblical Counseling Center has come alongside a variety of churches, helping them to develop more effective ministries to care for those who hurt. We are accomplishing this by online training that develops their counseling team right within their own church walls. Consider these four common scenarios detailed from recent conversations with pastors.

#1: Urban Church Profile

We are using online training to equip a young, multiracial church plant full of young adults in their twenties and young families in their thirties. There are many different nations and theological backgrounds represented in the church which is located in an area of the city that has diverse socio-economic factors. They recently invited and trained 3 older, mature couples to form a counseling team that will help care for the needs of the body. The Biblical Counseling Center’s online training helped this church to achieve that goal.

#2: Small Church Profile

We are using the Internet to help a pastor who has been at the church for over 25 years but with growing concerns for his flock. He is a graduate of one of the largest evangelical seminaries in America, yet without training in how to counsel his people. In his years there, he has never seen troubled marriages restored. All were either divorced or remain together but miserable. Those he referred to counseling are frustrated that even Christian counseling seemed to make no difference, and they don’t know what to do. The pastor just found the Biblical Counseling Center on the web and is now taking our Foundations in Biblical Counseling online training.

#3: Rural Church Profile

We’re helping a young pastor from a small, rural farming community 60 miles outside of Chicago. His church of 150 is multigenerational and is growing. However, this pastor wants the older generation to be more active in discipling the younger generation. Pursuing biblical counseling training has been difficult because farmers rarely travel, and they only have evenings available. His solution is group training at the church, watching training sessions together, and talking about the implications for their congregation.

#4: Suburban Church Profile

Picture a suburban pastor of a church of 700+ with a Christian school nearly double that size. The church has played it safe, has a nice building, is doctrinally sound, and has a comfortable congregation. It fits perfectly into a nice, family-driven, comfortable suburb. However, the church is starting to realize they should have a far greater impact in their community than they currently do. They know their doctrine better than they know their neighbors, and in the past, nobody admitted to having any problems! They are recognizing their congregation and their community need answers, real solutions to big counseling issues, answers that the church should have. Whether they decide on live seminar training or Internet training within the comfort of their own homes, God’s Word has practical answers to those big counseling issues.

Advantages to Online Training Programs Versus Live Training

Perhaps you resonate with one of the examples above. Developing a biblical counseling team and a culture of biblical care within the body will benefit any church by increasing individual spiritual growth and impacting outreach into the community. If so, the Biblical Counseling Center wants to help you get started right where you are through our online training programs.

Consider some of the advantages of online training:

  • Any size of church, small or large
  • Any place you have Internet access
  • Any time of day or year that works
  • Cost effective with group discounts
  • Self-paced (up to 1 year per course)
  • Sustainable training for years
  • 100 hours of instruction online
  • Skype instructor Q & A sessions available
  • Discussion guides provided
  • Build team camaraderie and mutual encouragement
  • Available for small groups, large classes, or individuals

Strategic Ways to Implement Online Biblical Counseling Training in Your Church

Introduce biblical counseling first to some trusted key leaders. If biblical counseling is new to your church, an online training course is a great way to introduce key leaders to biblical counseling without creating unwarranted controversy. A few leaders who catch the vision can go a long way to help turn the tide of momentum toward implementing a biblical counseling vision in your church.

Create an ongoing training class as part of your Christian Education program. If your church has a regular equipping track or education hour, biblical counseling training will educate and also motivate the educated toward discipleship. Help those “who ought to be teachers by now” gain tools to disciple the hurting in your congregation. An online training program is sustainable and achievable on a semester or yearly basis.

Prepare a mature small group to multiply, thereby increasing ministry leadership. Small groups can become primarily social groups if they are not strategically multiplied.  It is best to encourage groups that reach higher levels of maturity to transform themselves into catalysts to disciple others. These small groups are full of those who “ought” to be teachers by now, and biblical counseling training is designed to give them the tools and vision to disciple others through real world struggles and difficulties.

Develop a lay counseling team. Do your people know where to turn when they need sound advice and support? Rather than referring out to secular counselors, why not develop a team of committed lay counselors who are equipped and resourced to disciple the common issues your people are facing? Hosting an online training course is a great way to discern those you will be able to trust to help in critical care situations. Encouraging some to pursue certification or certificates is a great way to create a benchmark.

Host an Online Biblical Counseling Training class

Do you have leaders who would make good biblical counselors but who lack the necessary training? Through our online training portal, your key people can get the same training we have traditionally offered in our live seminars but completely online. Churches don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to bring a few to a conference when they could train dozens right at their own church for the same amount of money.

You can offer this high quality training by meeting together weekly or monthly or by decentralizing your training approach and letting individuals study at home on their own time. We grade the work and will sign off when your course in complete. We will also appoint a representative from your church to work as a moderator in the course to help your students succeed and to monitor your students’ progress.

Think about how an online training class might serve the needs of the following groups of people in your church:

  • Young parents for whom traveling is difficult or impossible
  • Business travelers
  • College students who are away
  • Homebound with health issues but alert minds and passion for ministry
  • Those who find the travel cost prohibitive to conferences
  • Those with little vacation time for conferences
  • Busy small business owners
  • Pastors with small budgets

Consider the recent testimony of a few of our students involved in online training programs.

“I am so thankful for the online program that BCC offers and am already blessed by the time I have spent in the class. The online program’s self-paced approach has been very helpful in allowing me to fit the coursework into a busy schedule.”—Peter from IL

“The coursework is excellent so far. I am greatly enjoying the training and format of the course.”—David from WI

Every church should equip its leadership in biblical counseling. Our goal is to help you become more successful in your efforts. If we can help you in any way, please reach out to us at info@biblicalcounselingcenter.org.

Join the Conversation

How could you use the Internet and online training to advance the ministry of biblical counseling?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Education, Equipping, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , ,

8 Ways Biblical Counseling Centers Can Reinforce the Local Church

Local Church Equipping--8 Ways Biblical Counseling Centers Can Reinforce the Local Church

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the second of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on equipping biblical counselors in the local church. Today, Jim Newheiser highlights how para-church biblical counseling can reinforce the importance of the local church. You can read Part One in this series, written by Andrew Rogers, at 15 Ways to Give Hope in Biblical Counseling.

Local Church Commitment

IBCD[i] is a regional counseling training center. While our primary purpose is to equip church leaders to disciple and counsel, we also offer counseling[ii] for professing Christians in our area.

One of the major challenges we face is that many of our counselees are not well connected to a local church. Some are irregular in their church attendance. Others are not committed members of a local church. Still others are involved with a church which does not counsel (shepherd) its members. We have found that, in most of these cases, counselees could be helped significantly if they were committed to a local church.

1. We require our counselees to attend church (ideally, their own).

Some counselees claim to have a personal relationship with God, but they have not been taught to appreciate how God blesses His people through the local church through which they are cared for spiritually. Scripture teaches that we should not forsake assembling together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25).

In addition to requiring that our counselees attend church, we often give them homework to take notes during the sermon (i.e., write down three ways that God spoke to you through His Word in today’s message). This helps them to develop a habit of listening well to the proclamation of God’s Word. It also indicates what is being taught in their local church. Some counselees are willing to come to their sessions for individual attention, but they are not faithful in attending church. Such an attitude must be confronted. I recently told a counselee that I could not see him again until he had attended church.

2. We help our counselees to commit to a particular local church.

We often have counselees who have not joined or become involved in church beyond weekly attendance at one service. We also encounter people who are intermittently attending two or three churches without being committed to any one in particular. Scripture teaches that we each need to be committed to a particular local church whose leaders will care for our souls (Hebrews 13:17).

A major agenda point in our counseling is to encourage a non-member to join and to deepen their commitment to the local church. Counselees who haven’t established a committed relationship with their local church often remain dependent upon the counselor. Under such circumstances it can become almost impossible for them to graduate from counseling.

3. We send our unchurched counselees to solid churches in our area (but not necessarily our church).

When we encounter counselees who are not committed to a local church, we work with them to find a suitable assembly. We have a list of recommended churches in our region in which the gospel is central, the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed, and the shepherds care for the sheep. We also have a booklet, “Help! I Need a Church”[iii], which explains why every believer needs to be a committed member of a local church and lays out biblical criteria (as opposed to secondary preferences) for choosing a local church.

4. We seek to involve the church in each case, ideally from an early stage.

Many of our most successful cases occur when people from the church (i.e., leaders or a mentor couple) come with the counselees and participate in every session. Where this is not possible, we seek to have contact with church leadership throughout the case or at least involve them in the last session or two so that a handoff of responsibility can take place.

One issue that we often face is that some counselees seek counsel outside of their church because they don’t want their local church to know about their problems. When we become aware of this, we seek to understand why. Sometimes the counselees don’t understand the role their church leaders are to have in caring for them (1 Peter 5:1ff). In other cases, there has been a loss of trust between the member and the leaders which becomes an issue that needs to be addressed in addition to the presenting problems.

5. We seek to show respect to other churches by not stealing their sheep.

When a counselee is a member of another evangelical church, we do not ask or encourage them to attend our church. Instead, our goal is that they would build a stronger relationship with their own local church so that they can be cared for by their own leadership. Also, we want other churches in our area to see our ministry as a resource to help them learn how to care for their own sheep, not as a threat which might siphon away their members.

On the other hand, when counselees believe that their church is failing to fulfill its responsibilities, our first priority is restoration. We may work with the counselee to humbly and biblically make an appeal to the leadership. We also may offer to assist the church leaders. For example, some leadership boards have never practiced biblical church discipline and are grateful for someone with experience who will walk them through the process.

6. We cautiously help counselees work through the possibility of changing churches.

When we have counselees who are attending churches which are in serious error, we seek to help them to recognize the error from Scripture, and then draw their own conclusion that they need to look elsewhere. Sometimes over the course of our sessions a counselee will realize that their church leaders are seriously deficient in fulfilling their responsibilities to feed, shepherd, and discipline the flock and will draw the conclusion that they need to find a new church which is more faithful to God’s Word. The mini-book, “Help! I Need a Church,” in addition to laying out the criteria for choosing a church also addresses the issue of when it is right to leave a local church.

7. We seek to work with area churches by offering to equip their leaders to counsel.

Our goal is not to counsel everyone else’s sheep. Instead, our mission is to equip church leaders to care for their own sheep. We do this through conferences, live observation, and our Care and Discipleship Curriculum.

Recently we met with a couple in whose lives God’s Word had worked mightily over a period of months. In the final session, one of their church leaders asked us, “What did you do for them that we didn’t do?” Our answer was that while ultimately it was the Spirit of God working through His Word, we would be thrilled to have the privilege of equipping them to better help people with gospel-centered biblical counseling.

8. We make our local church a priority.

A counseling center can be a huge drain on a local church both in terms of money and manpower. While we do our best to care for our counselees, our first calling is to shepherd the sheep in our own local church. In practical terms, this means that each of us can only give so much time to the ministry of the counseling center. Each of us counsels for a limited number of hours per week, and we limit our interaction with counselees outside of their appointments.

Because there is a great deal of demand for biblical counseling in our community, we often have an extensive waiting list (and often experience pressure from those who urgently want help). It is hard to make people wait. On the other hand, we are always available to members of our local church when they need pastoral care.

In Summary…

As a counseling center, our goal is not to take the place of the ministry of the local church or to compete with churches, but rather to help equip local churches to shepherd the Lord’s sheep and to help the sheep to experience the blessing of being cared for within a faithful local assembly.

Join the Conversation

What are additional ways that a para-church BC ministry can highlight the vital importance of the local church?


 

[i]The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship near San Diego, California, is a ministry of Grace Bible Church of Escondido, but it also includes counselors and leaders from other like-minded churches in our area.

[ii]The main reason that we counsel is so that our trainees can observe live counseling. We also welcome the opportunity to come alongside of local church leaders to address their difficult cases.

[iii]To be published soon by Shepherd Press in their LifeLine mini-books series.

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Equipping, Local Church Ministry, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , , ,

15 Ways to Give Hope in Biblical Counseling

Local Church Equipping--15 Ways to Give Hope in Biblical Counseling

A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the first of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on equipping biblical counselors in the local church. Today, Pastor Andrew Rogers highlights the need to be equipped to give hope.

Hope Gives Life

Any equipping we do in the church must include teaching people how to give hope to one another. That is one of the essential skills a biblical counselor must develop. One skilled in giving hope will be a balm to a hurting soul. Some counseling moments are formal and last a few hours, but many are informal and may only last a few minutes. In both situations and every one in between, we should develop our skill to use the truth of God’s Word to provide people hope.

Hope is the expectation of good that is based on the promises of God (Psalm 31:24; Romans 8:28). Hope is based on the grace of God and is inseparably bound to our relationship to Him and to our exercise of the disciplines of grace (Psalm 130:5). When we learn to think biblically about life and entrust ourselves to God, we engender hope.

Hope is vital to bringing comfort and confronting sin. Hope gives us stability and assurance that we will spend eternity with Christ. It gives us boldness and confidence. It gives us gladness. Hope enables us to withstand trials and turn away from sin. It gives us the strength to work hard and persevere. Hope causes us to sing praise and offer continual thanks to God (Lamentations 3:18-25).

Without hope we are tempted to disbelieve and disobey God. This is the concern of many of the New Testament writers as they wrote to churches facing the turmoil and trial of life affected by sin. “Stand firm,” “believe,” and “remain confident” are common exhortations. This is easy to say, but it is difficult to practice. And what makes it even more difficult is that we must stand firm over and over and over again. We can’t just stand firm once and be done. We must remain steadfast.

Steadfastness is essential to living the Christian life. How do we remain steadfast? Have hope! Hope in the promises of God, which are substantiated by His character and His Word, engender steadfastness (2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:3). Steadfastness yields Christlikeness and assures us of our future home where we will be with Christ and He with us forever.

Give Hope

Here are 15 ways to help people develop and maintain an attitude of hopefulness:

  1. Help them develop a vital relationship with God and with hope-filled people.
  1. Help them focus on the attributes of God that are most relevant to the issues they may be facing. For example, if someone is facing the consequences brought about by their own sin, then direct their attention to passages that particularly reveal God as merciful such as 1 John 1:9, Ephesians 2:4, and Deuteronomy 8 where we see the testimony of God walking with and providing for the Israelites while they experienced the painful consequences brought about by God’s discipline.
  1. Help them make the Scriptures relevant to their situation. For example, if a child is experiencing the daily onslaught of a mean classmate, minister to them the words of Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (ESV). Ask, “Has Hannah been mean to you?” “Has she done evil?” “What does God say we should do when someone treats us poorly?” “What good can you do to Hannah?” “Let’s brainstorm ways you can do good to Hannah.”
  1. Help them consider how often people just like us have faced similar difficulties successfully, especially Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16).
  1. Help them pray and learn to take charge of their thoughts, talking to themselves instead of listening to themselves (Philippians 4:8).
  1. Help them recognize that we as believers are free from the slavery of sin and external circumstances (Romans 6:11).
  1. Help them identify and confess their own sin, taking responsibility for their sins and laying out a specific biblical procedure for change (Psalm 32:1-5; 1 John 1:9).
  1. Be more interested in them than their problem.
  1. Point them to Christ (Hebrews 12:2).
  1. Pray for them (Colossians 1:3-14, esp. 6, 9-12).
  1. Be compassionate (Hebrews 2:14-18).
  1. Be gentle and humble (Matthew 11:28-30; Galatians 6:1).
  1. Take pains to communicate well (Ephesians 4:29).
  1. Take pains to listen well (Proverbs 18:13; Psalm 116:1-2).
  1. Love them (1 Corinthians 13:1-7).

One-Minute Hope

While the list above sounds good, much of the ways assume that we are spending a substantial period of time with someone. Yet, many of our counseling opportunities are in the spur of the moment after a Sunday morning worship service or even in the store. What can we do when someone lays upon us the story of his trial extemporaneously? It isn’t the place to go into 50 questions, and we won’t have enough information to discern the problem rendering us incapable of providing clear biblical instruction that truly addresses the issue. Then what can we do? We can give hope!

In the moment, I don’t have to have all the answers to one’s situation. But, I do know Who does. What I can do in that moment is point the person to Christ and help him see Christ’s sufficiency in the matter. I can assure him that I care and will walk with him.

One good thing for us is to minister to them Scripture that we go to when we need hope. For example, I often rely on Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (ESV). This passage gives me a hopeful perspective about my trying situation. I realize that no matter the severity or intensity of my trouble, God is there and gladly receives and listens to me to give me rest and strength to face and endure my trial. Have passages like this ready at all times, so that in the spur of the moment you can give hope.

Join the Conversation

To what Scripture do you turn for hope? What Scriptures will you prepare to minister to others? How do you give hope? How will you give hope?

Topics: BCC Exclusive, Biblical Counseling, Hope, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers | Tags: , ,

BCC Weekend Resource: A Marriage Preparation Inventory

The BCC Weekend Resource

A Word from Your BCC Team: On weekends, we like to highlight biblical counseling resources from our growing library of free resources. This weekend, we’re highlighting a new resource by Dr. Deepak Reju— A Marriage Preparation Inventory. This is part of a multipart resource series that Deepak, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Families at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, has made available to you through the BCC.

You can download the full resource for free here.

Topics: People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Premarital | Tags: ,

About the BCC

The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.