7 Reasons to Have a Biblical Counseling Center in the Local Church

What is Biblical Counseling?
What is your View of Biblical Counseling?

Introduction: Richard Baxter — author of “The Reformed Pastor” — He was a master at bringing the pulpit message to the people. He went house to house to see if his flock was getting the message from the pulpit. His ministry influenced my own ministry in the very first church that I shepherded. This type of house to house interaction with God’s people taught me the value of Biblical discipleship and counseling.

Here are a few of my observations from counseling people from 35 churches for 26 years.

Listen as an Audio Sermon by Pastor Darrell Gustafson:

Click here to download as an MP3 file…

Part 1: 7 Reasons to have a Biblical Counseling Center in Your Church
or at Least Make It Known That There is Biblical Counseling in Your Church

  1. Many pastors just do crisis counseling that help their flocks through tough times. Unfortunately, if they do not recognize the importance of individual and family counseling & discipleship they will miss a great shepherding opportunity for the whole family to grow in the Lord. With an official Counseling/Discipleship ministry we have been able to counsel/disciple almost every couple and individual in the church. By taking the crisis opportunity to find out where each member of the household is spiritually, you can teach the entire family how to handle God’s trials.
  2. What is really going on in the average church body today? You may never know that your sheep are struggling with: Anger, Porn, Marital Unfaithfulness, Worry, Fear, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts or actions like Masturbation, Cutting, Bulimia, and Anorexia. You may never know because they are too embarrassed to tell you. They assumed counseling was not available through your church. They go to their doctor, some referred to a psychologist and eventually a physiatrist because he is the one licensed to prescribe psychotropic drugs. These are designed to cover up symptoms not deal with the sin issues. Many of your congregation could be on these psychotropic drugs.
  3. Many Christians will not approach their pastor or elders with their personal struggles until a crisis occurs. Hopefully, your church members will seek you out when troubles such as marriage disharmony, legal difficulties, financial pressures, or rebellious children drive them to despair. When a counseling ministry is offered in the local church, sheep start coming, even when it is the pastor or elder because they have also been designated counselors. It saves them money and times of counsel does not take them away from their jobs. This is a prime opportunity for discipleship. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to shepherd God’s people to maturity. When churches make it known that they offer counseling on any issue, the church will be the first place that church-goers look for help. You or your counselors should be the Christian’s first call when troubles overwhelm them. When other resources are the first line of defense, the Christians may end up using mood altering drugs; abusing alcohol; or using prescription or illegal drugs to cope with undesired feelings.

    Personal Note: When we opened the Grace Covenant Church Discipleship and Counseling Center in 1992, the flock started to seek counsel for a multitude of reasons. This new designation of “Discipleship/Counseling Center” will open doors for your shepherding ministry. As a pastor or elder, you may be surprised at the increased openness of people when you call it a counseling session. There is a subtle change in the approach and people will respond favorably. A stigma at first about anyone knowing they were in for counseling but 2 couples from the start came for marriage conflict counseling, received help and restoration and got up on a Sunday night and told everyone and encouraged others to get help. We were on our way and in 26 years of counseling, we have counseled over 450 couples and hundreds of individuals.

  4. So just what part of the ministry is counseling and what part is discipleship? I’m glad you asked. Usually, the first or second counseling sessions may be emergency counseling but after that the meetings will center on discipleship. Counseling one member can lead to discipling and spiritually growing the whole family.

    Matthew 28:16-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Mt 28:20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  5. Where do you stand on the Sufficiency of Scripture? Many good men of God will preach from the Scripture, teach from the Scripture, but they will send their flock elsewhere for counseling. In Christian circles these are usually called intragrationists (mixture of psy- chology and Scripture) or some to pure psychology when a physiatrist is needed to prescribe drugs. As men of God, we must preach from the Scripture, teach from the Scripture, and should Counsel from the Scripture! 2Pe 1:3 His divine power has given us for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. I have found that many good men of God are doing a great job in the first two areas but are failing tremendously in the third area, either by silence or by sending the sheep to worldly pastures to feed on faulty counsel. Others will have more input into your sheep than your ministry.
  6. Many pastors have said that they are not qualified to counsel. Paul did not agree with this perspective. Romans 15:14 Paul states that “I myself am convinced that you, my brothers, are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct (counsel) one another.” Paul admonishes the Corinthians and us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercy and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” The Corinthian’s were a mess but they were competent in the areas of scripture that they did know.
  7. Counseling is also a great evangelistic opportunity. Biblical Counselors, across the US, say that 75% of those coming for counseling think that they are Christians but are not converted. In fact, many will be confronted with the Gospel during the counseling and will be converted while in counseling. Many have asked Jesus into their hearts, saved at a youth camp, raised in Christian home, attend church but their lives are a mess.

Conclusion: BCTCofAZ is here to 1. assist the local churches anywhere to be more competent in counseling their people. 2. Assist in establish an official Counseling Center in your church with 26 years of experience to help you in detail.

Part 2: Biblical Counseling

  1. Defining Biblical Counseling
    1. Counseling: In general
      • What it is – To give someone advice in the form of a plan, for the purpose of accomplishing goal(s).
      • What it is not – mere listening or doing it for someone
    2. Biblical Counseling: Specifically

      God’s mind, as revealed in the Bible, forms this kind of counseling. It’s goals, objectives, methods, and motivations are consistent with God’s Word.

      1. It is God centered: He is the author, a counselor is only secondary after the Word and the Holy Spirit.
      2. It is Christ centered: His redemption, resurrection, and power are central. Biblical Counseling is not counselor centered nor is it client centered. (Isa. 9:6, Jn. 14:16,17,26; Jn. 15:26; Jn. 6:7; & Jn. 2:1)
      3. It is Holy Spirit centered, thus, prayer and the Bible are central. (Isa. 11:1-2)
      4. It is Christian discipleship: therefore this is a subset of the ministry of the Word.

        “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:18–20

      5. It is a function of the Church’s ministry. (Ephesians 1–3)
        The Great Commission

        • Public Ministry — Preaching/Teaching
        • Private Ministry — Specific, Biblical Counseling and discipleship to an individual, a couple or an entire family.
        • Note: Counseling is a form of teaching.

          “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3

    3. Descriptions of Counseling:
      1. The Greek word, that describes this type of Biblical counseling is found in the New Testament three times in the noun form (1 Corinthians 10:11, Ephesians 6:4, Titus 3:10), and eight times as a verb (Acts 20:1, Romans 15:14, Colossians 3:16 – admonish); (Romans 15:14 – confront); (Colossians 1:28–29 – admonish and teach everyone); (Acts 20:31 – warning others, discipline, and teaching by the Word).
      2. In Biblical Counseling, the focus is primarily on the heart motive of your actions. We will ask, “what did you do,” not “why did you do it.” Through this process, motives will come out. The true motive, or the heart’s why, will be revealed as they explain what they have done.

        Sometimes we will need a specific “why” but we are not looking for an excuse for sinful actions. Our goal is to see a heart changed by the Holy Spirit through the washing of the Word.

        “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Matthew 15:18–19

  2. Biblical Counseling has goals.
    1. The goals of Biblical counseling are no less or no more than the goals of the Kingdom of God.

      “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36–40

    2. The goal for each counselee is clearly defined in 1 Timothy 1:5

      The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

      • Goal: Love for God — (the source of real change)
      1. A pure heart — see God
      2. A good conscience — see as God sees
      3. A sincere faith — acts as God acts

      In short, to look like Jesus Christ — Romans 8:28–29

    3. How do we this?

      “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 1:27–29

      • Supernatural Source of hope: Christ in you
      • Ministry of the Word of God: teach and confront
      • Strive via Holy Spirit’s power: anything less is humanistic & fleshly.
      • Some may say I can’t do this. Philippians 4:13 — I can
    4. Therefore, holiness, not health, wealth, nor happiness, is our goal.

      “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4

      Note: This is not to be a check list in order to look like a Christian, but rather a renewed commitment to Christian living which flows from a changed heart.

  3. Biblical Counseling verses Secular Counseling
    Unique and Sufficient Resources: The church has them. The world does not.

    1. God works (uniquely) in the church.
      1. Christ’s grace

        “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

      2. The Father’s love

        “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1

      3. The Spirit’s partnership

        “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever? the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15–18

        (Isaiah 11:1–3a — the Holy Spirit’s six-fold basis for counseling:) “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him?the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD? and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.”

    2. God gives gifts to His people (Ephesians 4:7–12; Romans 12:3–8)
    3. God gives His infallible, inerrant Word.

      “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16–17

    4. God gives the body of Christ. (Hebrews 10:23–25, Hebrews 12:14–15)

      God has gifted the church with Elders and Deacons.

      • Elders — spiritual needs of the flock
      • Deacons — help with physical needs of the flock
      • God has gifted the church with other Christians such as doctors, CPAs, lawyers, nurses etc.

      God will use these gifts to bring about His will:

      • Evangelism
      • Repentance
      • Reconciliation
      • Turning from addictions
      • Help with individuals or those experiencing marital troubles through the use of the Mt. 18 reconciliation process