Counseling: An Essential Aspect of Discipleship and Evangelism
I remember standing outside of my sales office early one morning in November 2010. So much had gone through my head the previous 12 hours - ever since a co-worker of mine shared her testimony with me. I had heard the gospel before, and I had heard testimonies before. But this time it was different. The Holy Spirit had truly done a work of conviction in my heart. Only I wasn’t sure what to do next!
The night before I had the realization that my co-worker had something I did not. I had never really been sure of what Hell was – but I drove carefully the whole way home because I truly felt at risk of finding out at any minute. I knew I needed to talk to someone.
My first problem, however, was that I had walked away from the church about six months before. I didn’t feel like I could reach out to the local pastor that sat down with me back in May. And my pride was too deep to call my parents or grandparents. So I just wrestled with it all night. Maybe it would be better in the morning…
It wasn’t. And that’s where my second problem came up.
I couldn’t begin my workday that Friday morning until I knew that I had reached out to someone. I even went into the office to try and start. Yet here I was, standing outside of the building by myself. So I did what any millennial might do. I googled it!
Specifically, I googled “Christian Counselor Greenville SC.” I picked one of the places closest to me and scheduled an appointment. And it was in that counselor’s room a couple of weeks later where I began to find the answers I was looking for.
Our sixth core value at Verdae Pres is counseling. Or more specifically, Biblical Counseling. So much could be said about the depth of this core value at our church, but I want to simply state the two main reasons why we believe this is going to play an integral role as our church develops.
First, we feel a unique calling to the “de-churched.” That is to say we are aiming to go after those sheep in God’s flock who have been lost. Those who are not in a church home right now. And like I was in 2010, may not even have a real saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But for the de-churched – different from those who are completely unchurched – having a place to talk about problems and trials was truly a part of life inside the church. Even if it was just the pastor talking to them during the sermon each week! But because they are outside of the church, this void is often filled by trips to a counseling room.
As a result, many people often feel more comfortable initially returning to the church via the counseling room as well. It is a place they can interact with someone. And it is a place that may feel less threatening for some people. So there is a real sense that us holding this as a core value is more of an acknowledgment of how the de-churched may initially return rather than anything else. Just like I did back in 2010!
But second, and more importantly, we believe real transformation takes place in the counseling room. A former professor of mine, and current Biblical Counselor, shared a story with our class about a trip he had taken to the Asia. While riding in a taxi he was asked what he did for a living. This was hard because the taxi driver had no concept of counseling. My professor spent the next 15 minutes trying to describe to the taxi driver what a counselor actually does before the driver finally said, “It sounds like you are a professional friend.” Not far off!
Transformation only occurs when the Word of God comes to shed its light in the darkest parts of our hearts. The places that we close off not only to those closest to us – but often times even to ourselves. Biblical counseling is this specific effort to move into those most difficult areas and open the floodgates of God’s grace so that it may overwhelm the places that need it most. Yes God will take us as we are, but He never leaves us that way. And Biblical counseling is one of the main ways that we see this transformation happen.
Sometimes Biblical counseling leads to the first real profession of faith – and thus it may be evangelistic in nature. Sometimes it presses a true believer forward in their faith – and thus it may be a part of a Christian’s discipleship. And still, sometimes it may appear that we don’t see any fruit at all from the efforts that we put in.
Nevertheless, the reason we feel convicted as a church to grow and develop this sixth core value is because of one central promise in God’s Word. That it never returns void! In other words, no matter what we may see or not see when God’s Word sheds its light, we are always confident that it achieves its purposes. And isn’t that the goal of our counseling anyway? To see God achieve His purposes in the lives of those we love. And in our own!
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”