| Counseling in the Body|
Counseling in the Body
The Holy Spirit intends to open a door of ministry for the whole Body of Christ. It is not merely for a few superstars to heal the few troubled ones, but for the sanctification and maturation of every member of the entire Body, done by Him, by all for all.
Our hope is to be part of training of the entire Body of Christ to minister. Some in the Body are especially called to counsel. When we speak of Christian counselors, we have in mind those Christians who have been distinctly called, gifted by the Holy Spirit to counsel, and who hopefully are being recognized, anointed and given that office by their pastors and churches.
Pulpit preaching of God's word penetrates to the heart, for that is the sword of the Spirit at work. But how often have we all remarked that the ones who needed it most were not there or even if they were present, seemed to hear it least? In that fact is the call and necessity for the total Body to apply the spoken word in counsel one to another. The one-on-one interplay of two hearts and minds is the most effective model of “preaching,” the extension of God's Word. Every member ought to be a counselor with at least some training, whose primary function is to convert anew, are by area, here a little, there a little, in ever-increasing sections of the human heart, until all with the Psalmist can sing out as an accomplished fact, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1 KJV).
The Lord intends to put His law in our minds and to write it on our hearts (Jer. 31:33 and Heb. 8:10). That writing lasts a painful while (I Peter 5:6-10). It requires a slow process, for "precept [must be] upon precept; precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line, here a little, [and] there a little (Isa. 28:10 RSV). That slow process is one reason for the Church, and within the Church, for the ministry of a counselor.
Pastors may counsel, but it is our experience that pastors cannot carry a full counseling load and continue to shepherd the entire flock. One of the most compelling reasons for the need of counselors within the Church besides just the pastor follows the reasoning behind Jethro's counsel to Moses:
"The thing you are doing is not good [counseling from morning until evening]. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. Now listen to me: I shall give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people's representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, then teach them the statues and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk, and the work they are to do. Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this things and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their places in peace. (Exodus 18:17-23)
Pastors cannot settle all the affairs of the heart for all the members of their churches, not even of as small a church as 100 members or even less. No pastor can have that much time and energy. Therefore today shepherding elders are being raised up.
Christians counselors within the Body of Christ such as described make no charge for their services. They must not unless happening to be psychologically trained and credentialed through whatever federal, state, county, or local agencies, they are required to do so. There are professional counselors who happen to be Christian, and counsel as such. We speak primarily to non-professional counselors within the Body of Christ. (END)
docs: I have often heard that the pain each of us have been through has not been lost in the eyes of God and He can even use your pain and past life experiences to form a life message in you to help others. The comfort we have been comforted with can now be used to comfort others. I think I can identify with personal pain in others who are believers yet many of these believers still seem to be shackled by a inability to change in problematic areas in their life when change is the very thing they are crying out for. They want to change but don't know how. They want to grow in Christ yet areas of their heart are still shackled and unable to do so. What if the entire body of Christ, or at least those who have the burden in each local Body, equipped themselves better to listen to others and guide them to a greater liberation in Christ? We perhaps need to admit that many believers are still bound in certain areas of their life. Then there's unhealed grief, dark personal secrets still held in by many, depression, addictions and the like. There are unhealed hatreds and unforgiveness still dwelling in many members. Even if they perhaps may have visible roles of preaching and teaching in the Body. There is need extending from the visible ministries seen by all down to the very least and common member of Christ's Body. Many visible ministries flame out eventually and maybe fall because of unresolved issues of the heart. The Body of Christ is so very rich in Christ but still lacking and needy in so many ways for each member to come more fully into Christ. Are personal heart to heart exchanges a better way to go about this instead of seeing the Body of Christ as having a few "professionals" within the ranks who fill this role? What if we alL learned a bit more about how to better minister the word to each other? A Body of counselors instead of a select few. I'm not talking about psychology and whatever it is or is supposed to be. I'm speaking of Christ centered ministry built around the enabling of the Spirit and the power of His living word.
What think ye?
| 2020/2/3 14:28||Profile|
| Re: Counseling in the Body|
CHRIST-CENTERED MINISTRY VS. PROBLEM-CENTERED COUNSELING
June 1, 2014
Bobgan, Martin and Deidre
Christ-centered ministry encourages spiritual growth and depends on the Lord to do the work in each individual through His Word and Spirit. Therefore, one can confidently assure believers that this ministry is more effective, long lasting, and spiritually rewarding than problem-centered counseling for those who are willing to go this way. For those who follow this Christ-centered ministry there will be spiritual growth, even if certain problems at hand are not resolved.
Because Christ-centered ministry utilizes all that should already be available in every Bible-believing church where Christians are growing in the Lord, it avoids what we call the “onerous ones” that typify problem-centered counseling. We briefly touched on these onerous ones earlier. However, we will expand on them here to clarify some major differences between Christ-centered ministry and problem-centered counseling for the purpose of encouraging believers to take courage in exercising their gifts, talents, and responsibilities for ministering to one another without fear or intimidation from the counseling world.
One to One
Problem-centered counseling is typically a one-to-one relationship. Sometimes couples and families are involved, but the relationship is generally artificial and restrictive. The counseling relationship itself usually does not extend outside the counseling room. The relationship lasts as long as counseling is being provided and normally does not extend to other involvement, even in most biblical counseling centers. Problem-centered counselors commonly do not involve themselves with counselees outside the counseling room. That is why both psychological and biblical counselors sometimes use intake forms requesting a great deal of personal information. Because this relationship is generally isolated, the counselor and counselee can be selective as to what they want to reveal about themselves. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, research shows that counselees often lie to their counselors and protect themselves by concealing important information.
The great advantage of Christ-centered ministry is that it is not limited to an artificial one-to-one relationship where one has the problem and the other supposedly has the solution. In the Body of Christ all are growing together. There are many opportunities to know one another and to interact in genuine relationships. When a believer is experiencing problems, more than one person may be involved in ministering to that individual. One may be teaching. One may be reminding. Another may simply be extending support and fellowship. Another may be helping in practical ways. Another may be exhorting. Another may be admonishing. And, in a few cases, some may be exercising the responsibility of disciplining a fellow believer for the sake of restoration. But, all can be praying and encouraging the individual in the direction of the Lord. And, through all this, all are growing together and the relationships may deepen with one another as well as with the Lord.
One Day a Week
Problem-centered counseling is generally one-to-one, one-day-a-week, but rarely outside the office. Someone pointed out the paradox of the counseling relationship by saying that while the relationship is extremely intimate at times, the counselor has no interest in seeing the counselee outside the office. Many problem-centered counselors, including biblical counselors, avoid other contacts with their counselees, who cannot see the counselor outside the prescribed one-day-a-week, unless additional appointments are made.
In Christ-centered ministry the possibilities of seeing one another and communicating by phone are only limited by the number of individuals available. As mentioned earlier, Christians can choose when and how often to meet together for personal ministry. In the body of Christ this can be done freely without the one-day-a-week time constraints of problem-centered counseling.
In addition to the one-to-one and one-day-a-week errors in most problem-centered counseling, there is generally the fifty-minute hour limitation. Why a fifty-minute hour or similar restriction? The time restriction is a device to meet the needs of problem-centered counselors to regulate the flow of counselees for convenience and sometimes for income. This relationship governed by the clock benefits the counselor, not the counselee. And, if the counselee is late, the already reduced hour is further reduced; if the counselee is desperate and needs more time, it is already taken by other counselees.
Christ-centered ministry is governed by love rather than the clock. Giving time to a fellow believer is a way of saying, “I care about you.” And because the ministry is shared among believers, it supersedes what is available or affordable in problem-centered counseling. A local church is not bound by the one-to-one, one-day-a-week, one-hour relationships of problem-centered counseling.
One Week after Another
One-to-one, one-day-a-week and one-hour shortcomings of problem-centered counseling are amplified by one-week-after-another….Today many problem-centered counselors continue to retain counselees over numerous weeks, months, and even years in spite of research that shows no advantage of long-term counseling….People in problem-centered counseling often become dependent on their counselors rather than on the Lord.
In contrast, Christ-centered ministry emphasizes dependency on the Lord Himself, and in a church where the ministries are functioning and the gifts are operating, the mutual care and encouragement of fellow believers are there to assist all believers in their ongoing walk with the Lord. Rather than a long-term artificial counseling relationship there is a relationship of mutual care in which believers are available to encourage one another as they are growing together in Christ.
One Fixed Price
The one-to-one, one-day-a-week, one-hour, one-week-after-another errors of problem-centered counseling lead to one fixed price that is charged (or a donation that is expected). Some biblical counselors charge fees or request donations for their services for some of the same reasons as psychological counselors. The establishing, billing and collecting of fees (or encouraging of donations) are a significant aspect of most problem-centered counseling. Because of salaries to be paid, the one fixed price (or donation) becomes a necessity that limits the relationship. If one cannot pay his bill (or contribute) the relationship is usually over. The money paid (or donated) must match the mark in the appointment book and the hand on the clock. After all, a problem-centered counselor who charges a fee must fill enough appointments to make a desirable income.
One Right after Another
One right after another fits right into the one-to-one, one-day-a-week, one-hour, one-week-after-another and one-fixed price onerosities. In problem-centered counseling there is usually a progression of one person right after another. Counselees know others have preceded them and others will follow. No one has set a limit on how many counselees per day one counselor can effectively manage. Counseling eight hours a day, five days a week, with large numbers of people always has and always will lead to superficial relationships lacking genuine compassion, even in the biblical counseling office. There is no biblical example for one-right-after-another, problem-centered counseling. No, not even the example of Moses, since he was judging disputes between people, rather than getting into the pattern of problem-centered counseling as practiced today.
In Christ-centered ministry, the personal ministry load can be spread among many believers. There is no need for one-right-after-another or the other onerous ones. There is often a temptation for the pastor or a paid staff member to carry the load of personal ministry. When this happens, one right after another can weaken the overall ministry, overburden the pastoral staff, and be affected by the onerous ones. Believers need to learn to minister to one another and to receive ministry from each other rather than depending on the pastor or a staff counselor for such help.
One Up/One Down
The one-to-one, one-day-a-week, one-hour, one-week-after-another, one-fixed price, one-right-after-another are eclipsed in problem-centered counseling by the tragic onerosity of the one-up/one-down relationship, with the counselor considered as the expert with the gnosis to perform the cure….Rather than an expert being responsible to fix the problem, Christ-centered ministry draws both the seeker and the helper to the Lord for wisdom and transformation. When the Lord calls one believer to minister to another believer, both are seeking the Lord in meekness and humility. Believers may be especially gifted to minister to one another in the faith, but all (even those in leadership) stand on an equal plain at the foot of the cross. Indeed, it is the Lord who truly accomplishes the restoration and sanctification of the believer.
Our goal is to remind believers of their call and empowerment to serve in the Body of Christ. Obviously not all the necessary information regarding Christ-centered ministry is in this short book, but the Lord will bring forth what is missing through the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the Body of Christ as you seek to serve Him. He will give you opportunities to grow spiritually and serve according to His will, through His Word, and by grace through faith.
We seek to encourage ministry and to discourage the use of problem-centered counseling. We seek to encourage the dependence on the Lord and His Word to minister to one another in the Body of Christ, without intimidation by or dependence on biblical counseling manuals, workshops, seminars, degrees, or certificates. We hope to see ministry shared among believers in their local fellowships with their focus on Jesus Christ and the Word of God. The Lord will enable them to serve as they are constant in prayer, diligent in Bible study, and marked with the humility of a servant’s heart and as they are ready to serve without having to be in a superior position or to have a title of superiority.
Ministry among believers should be constant and ongoing, which will result in souls beset with problems seeking the Lord through His Spirit, Word, and Body rather than turning to counselors trained in psychological or biblical counseling….What a privilege to be included in the mighty, miraculous work of God in one another’s lives. All believers have opportunities to minister to fellow believers to encourage them along the way.
If you are one who is experiencing problems of living and looking for assistance, find someone in your local church who can minister to you. Find someone who is mature in the faith and is walking with God the way you desire to walk. Ask that person to come alongside, minister the Life of Christ, speak forth the truth of God, encourage you in your walk with the Lord, and earnestly pray.
If you are a Christian, know essential biblical doctrines, are walking according to your new life in Christ and growing in the Lord, you already have what it takes to minister the Life of Christ to a fellow believer. You have a living God, the source of all life and healing. You have His living, enduring, abiding Word (1 Peter:1:23-25), which ministers truth to the mind, direction and encouragement to the will, and grace for the emotions. Christ-centered ministry is not a position of expertise (one-upmanship) but one of side-by-side seeking the Lord. It does not lead believers into the downward spiral of problems, but rather upward to the Life of Christ and the Word of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Can you think of anything more worthwhile than to serve God in your own family, in the Body of Christ, and in the world? Every person in whom the Holy Spirit lives is enabled to serve and can say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians:4:13)? Take courage! God will indeed work His own good pleasure in and through His children.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The Bobgans wrote a book with the very same title of this article. I highly recommend it.
They've also got a ministry; pamweb.org
From their website -
"Psychoheresy is the integration of secular psychological counseling theories and therapies with the Bible. Psychoheresy is also the intrusion of such theories into the preaching and practice of Christianity, especially when they contradict or compromise biblical Christianity in terms of the nature of man, how he is to live, and how he changes."
| 2020/2/3 19:04||Profile|
| Re: |
I like this.
I don't have time right now to go into many of the excellent points in the article but this is good and is kind of right along the lines I was thinking of. Good stuff. I'll try and get back with a few comments pretty soon I hope. Thanks.
| 2020/2/4 5:06||Profile|
| Re: |
Just a reminder: Pastors are not thinking along these lines. (the previous posts)
1. the average joe Christian is 'unvetted' as a counselor and therefore out before he begins
2. Pastors don't want to get sued especially if someone complains then claims further injury to their person because of incompetency.
3. Pastors don't want the liability of joe Christian counseling no matter what he thinks he knows about the bible.
4. the person to convince to allow Christian counseling among each other is the pastor, he will kill it fast if someone creates trouble for him or others on staff.
This is the reality of what you will probably face. Your knowledge of the word really means nothing, your willingness to show compassion and give advice or aid only increases his fear you will commit some error and he and the church budget will suffer badly.
If you haven't guessed by now financial issues crush anyone from thinking theyre going to just 'counsel' folks on the side lines.
What is the difference between a pastor and his flock?
in this scenario...if something goes bad, the counselor just goes home and goes to work. The pastor goes home and fills out a resume and looks for a new pulpit.
Be mindful this IS why counseling is as rare as dancing Baptist.
| 2020/2/4 17:39||Profile|
| Re: |
I hear what you are saying and my pastor is not against the idea but he did mention liability possibilities that can innocently come when counsel is given.
/If you haven't guessed by now financial issues crush anyone from thinking they're going to just 'counsel' folks on the side lines./
This is far from what I am thinking. I'm not thinking of just "anyone" trying to counsel. We are all called I think to be healers and why not try and get a little better at it? Mainly though, it's for those who have this particular burden and those who will have undergone some type of training hopefully under the okay and tutelage of the pastor. It's not any Joe Christian who on a whim is trying to counsel on the sidelines. It's Body ministry and those in the Body are not sideline folks.
| 2020/2/5 5:33||Profile|
| Re: |
Hi David: I realize my post comes off as Debbie-downer but I am in fact on the same side as you, and I think Savannah's post was really good.
When I say Joe Christian I mean anyone not vetted by a college or program dedicated to educating would-be counselors.
Lastly I've met numerous pastors and elders who couldn't counsel someone out of a bag with both ends open. For a wide variety of reasons biblical counseling escapes them. Their ability to mentor would-be counselors would be a recipe for disaster.
I was fortunate while in bible college to take 2 years of biblical counseling courses. This at least gave me a head start against those totally untrained...but even then I was young and immature in many things in my life.
In that Church the over all plan was for home-group leaders to have counseling training. But not all home-group leaders were bible college students.
You see one of the problems in our society is Christians think exactly along the lines of our godless world. Namely here.
Lets just say the pastor oks some Nouthetic counselors in his church. Because our society is programmed for "emotional and psychological problems belong to realm of professionals" Your pastor has to advertise his nouthetic counselors as "well, we have these untrained and unproven counselors who have taken bible classes...and your welcome to use them". Up front they are branded as pretty much useless because they don't have college/humanist/psych classes behind them.
It's not a bad thing to be aware of these kinds of issues, it's just not very encouraging to know them.
| 2020/2/5 11:22||Profile|
| Re: Recent events|
Thank you for your thoughts. I thought savannah's post was good also.
I attended Bible college also and took a few courses in counseling and the nouthetic approach. I hear and understand what you are saying in the comments you made.
Meanwhile, I made my OP in this thread just to see what anyone may think and maybe get some comments and feedback. An hour later my next door neighbor who lives in the other part of this duplex comes in to visit and for an hour poured out his heart to me. His is a tale of woe, divorce, financial lack and brokenness to the point of his contemplating suicide at times. So I'm sitting there thinking I just made a post about this type of stuff an hour ago. I did the best I could and afterwards thought should I have told him counseling is available in special people in our church who are recognized counselors. Or would it be proper for me to know a bit about how to listen and respond with what the Holy Spirit may be saying? So that is the crux of my questioning at this point. I am not a "professional" counselor with training but does that make me unqualified to try and help him? The whole Body of Christ is called to be healers to a certain degree is what I believe. Surely learning a little more about how to respond in these type of situations can't be a bad thing. For every member.
The very next night I went to men's Bible study early and talked a bit with the pastor. He is not against it, he just wants to know a bit more about what I am thinking. He used to counsel regularly but sort of gave it up but still does it when it is called for. After the Bible study everyone is gone but me and him and all the lights are off except one. We are about to leave and are lingering just a bit and talking a little further about this. All of a sudden he gets a text message and the text is one of the church members asking the pastor if he can recommend a good counselor. This person (the pastor didn't tell me who so as to protect their privacy) says they are suffering from a lot of anxiety lately and depression. This is someone that has been saved for a while. And I'm thinking again what is the Lord trying to show me. This text came through the actual moment the pastor and I a were standing there talking about counseling in our church. Why should this person have to ask for a referral to a trained or licensed person? Can't someone or somebody in our local Body be trained to a degree and anointed by the Spirit to help address this situation? The pastor and his wife are going to talk to this person and sit with them but it brought home the point again to me. Congregations and the individual members within it should at least be able to address this person's needs it seems. Why would it hurt for entire congregations to learn a bit more about listening and counseling and helping people? It is still designated to a select few and this makes it harder in my opinion for churches to function properly. Every joint helps supply every other joint. Pastor and elders of local congregations could approve of and oversee what their congregations are taught in this area. I have a vision for not just congregations but congregations of healing. Perhaps, "It's just for a few trained professionals," is standing in the way.
Again, I appreciate your thoughts.
| 2020/2/6 9:49||Profile|
| Re: |
While an acute crisis intervention is a part of christian counseling, being a life coach could be a greater challenge.
How would you respond or approach someone else life crisis, how will you start, how will you end, how much of yourself and belongings will you commit. What sort of relationship will you establish with the counselee, as a friend, as a professional, as a benefactor.
Many personal troubles can not be resolved overnight, they can even linger for decades, what are you going to do about it.
Truly, this ministry can result to counselor's breakdown, how are you going to support them.
| 2020/2/6 12:45||Profile|
| Re: |
For professional counseling, there is a professional conduct or guidelines to be observed and therapeutic goals generally bounded by humanistic values.
How will you define goals of christian counseling, what general guidelines or conduct should there be.
| 2020/2/6 13:33||Profile|
| Re: |
I suppose to a degree you seem to be leaving out the context of life within the Body. We are called to bear one another's burdens and open or hearts to one another but at the same time we can't be all things to all people. That's where the rest of the Body and their gifts or ability to counsel fill up that which we lack.
People who may be in the middle of a life crisis sometimes reach out for help and you start from there. Each situation is different than a former or future one. No one rule could be employed. I've seen that when one member is in a life crisis that more than one part of their local Body usually responds responds. It's a group effort.
/Many personal troubles can not be resolved overnight, they can even linger for decades, what are you going to do about it./
Not continue what has been done that obviously hasn't worked.
/Truly, this ministry can result to counselor's breakdown, how are you going to support them./
I'm assuming you would train and teach people beforehand the signs of and how to avoid breakdown from bearing too much for too long. A counselor also is in the midst of a Body being ministered to himself as he ministers to others.
Keeping roadblocks and dangers in mind rather than the calling can keep one from stepping out to what God has called them to. Then nothing gets done. God does not call us to do something without equipping us to do it. If God calls someone or a Body to do something He will equip them to do it.
| 2020/2/7 4:05||Profile|