Today’s guest blogger is Ellen Castillo of Word of Hope Ministries. Ellen will be speaking at this week’s Counter Culture Conference here in Kansas City, Missouri! You can read more of Ellen’s blogs here.

The church is called the “pillar and support of the truth” by Paul. The truth of God’s Word has been preserved and disseminated throughout the ages by the church. All people desiring to grow in the knowledge of the truth and to learn more about God should find a local church that honors and teaches the Bible and begin to benefit from the teaching ministry which is offered there for them by God.

“Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14-15)

Life On Life, One-Another ministry is often best done in the context of your local church. If we take an honest look at our churches in our lifetime, we have to admit that we have often neglected to care for the souls of our church family in this context.

The apostle Paul explained that the church was the “body of Christ” with Jesus as its “head.”

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)

Paul’s description emphasizes the relationship that each believer and the local church has to Jesus. Since the church is a living organism consisting of people who believe in and follow their Savior Jesus Christ, they are under His rule, and He works through them. Anyone wanting to draw closer to Jesus and experience His working in their lives will greatly benefit from coming into association with a local body of believers.

God’s Word instructs believers not to neglect getting together with other believers. Our purpose as One-Another ministers is to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, both within our churches and in our spheres of influence outside the church. Without the local church to edify, encourage, and equip believers, this purpose cannot be fulfilled.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

One-Another ministry is the healthiest when done in the context of the local church whenever possible. You might have many other One-Another relationships outside of your local church body as well, but we are dealing primarily with the type of One- Another ministry in a local church that provides for the “soulcare” of individuals.

What do we mean by soulcare? It is not a new concept. It was established in the New Testament church in Acts 2.

Acts 2:42-47 “42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

The care that believers had for one another in Acts 2 has continued in various forms through the years. It can be defined as “believers speaking the Truth in love anchored in the Word of God, depending on the Holy Spirit.” In our culture, it is called by many names such as:

*Discipling *Mentoring *Teaching *Biblical Counseling *Pastoral Counseling *Spiritual Guidance *Spiritual Formation *Friendship *Spiritual Friendship

A church with a culture of soulcare will bear much fruit. Whatever form the church’s One-Another ministry takes, it must be rooted in God’s Word, exalt Jesus Christ, be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and be loving. Soulcare ministry aims to produce salvation, sanctification, and Spiritual fruit. This is achieved through admonishment, teaching, exhortation, encouragement, comfort, and forbearance.

All believers need soulcare, not just those who are struggling. We all need One-Another ministry in various forms. We do have a tendency in our churches today to neglect the hurting believer. Hurting individuals should be taken care of primarily by the local church, but are often referred out to secular sources of help that will not provide true soulcare. Those sources can have some benefit for learning some behavior management that brings some relief, but they will not provide what we see in our definition of soulcare — “speaking the Truth in love anchored in the Word of God, depending on the Holy Spirit.”

For a believer to have lasting change and hope, she must be helped with some form of soulcare, preferably within her local church. The next best choice would be help from a local Biblically-based counseling ministry. Biblical Counselors are glad to provide counseling to those who come to them from other churches, but all of them would agree that the best scenario would be that local churches become well equipped to counsel, disciple, mentor, teach, and befriend their own church family.

Please realize that there is occasionally an appropriate time for someone to seek Biblical help outside of their local church. If someone’s problems are serious enough that they are seeking counseling, the only option may be an outside Biblical Counselor who can help for a season. The counselor’s goal will be to return the woman to her local church for further discipleship once the counseling has ended. If a person is in need of medical assistance or medication, that has to be addressed by a licensed professional. Even if that is the case, she will need good One-Another relationships in her church family as she undergoes whatever kind of treatment she and her doctor choose.

Let’s caution against creating an environment in our churches where all we talk about are our struggles and problems, but let’s also provide opportunities for hurting people (aren’t we all hurting at some time or other?) to get the soulcare they need, through excellent One-Another relationships.

Paul explains that gifted people have been given to the church in order to bring believers to a place of fruitfulness in service and maturity.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

To learn more about mentoring in the local church and to become equipped for one-another ministry in your own local church, please look at the resources available for you at www.biblicalmentor.com.You will soon be able to purchase the book “Biblical Mentoring, Life On Life” on our website…coming soon!

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