Today’s guest blogger is Stacie Gibson. Stacie is a certified biblical counselor with ACBC and serves alongside her husband, whom is also certified through ACBC.  The Gibson’s are also in the process of becoming certified with IABC. They serve together at Grace Baptist Church in Dansville, NY and are involved with the church’s counseling ministry. 

Since becoming a certified
counselor 3 years ago, it has become more evident to me, through the Word of God,
that counseling should, if all possible, take place in the context of the local
church. There are many good reasons for this. We are all called to watch over
each with much love and care (Gal. 6:1-2, Hebrews 12:15-16, 1 John 3:16-18,
Matthew 28:16-20)) and no better way to do that is in our own body. But, since
becoming a counselor, I have also witnessed that a lot of people don’t believe
this to be the case. I am finding more
frequently that Christians do not have a good, biblical understanding of why
they should seek help and counseling from within their own local church.  Instead, they are trying to find outside
sources from other churches and secular counseling to help them. My husband and
I encounter these issues quite often and have come to some observations as to
why this may be happening:
1. 
Many local churches are not equipped and/or the elder board is not on
board with biblical counseling. They also may feel that counseling should be left
to someone else other than them.  Their
thinking may be that they are so busy with sermon preparation; they don’t have
time for personal ministry.  While
preaching and teaching are very important, pastors are also called to be
shepherds. A shepherd is one that takes care of the needs of the sheep.  Peter exhorts the elders in 1 Peter 5:2 to
“Shepard the flock that is among you.” Shepherding includes care, protection,
discipline, and guidance, not just preaching a message Sunday morning. 
Praise God for guys like Jay Adams who have
recognized these problems decades ago and has written books admonishing pastors
and lay people to take back their role as counselor. Also, men like Steve Viars
(Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana) and Deepak Raju (Capitol Hill Baptist
Church, Washington DC) have written numerous articles and chapters in books on
the importance of having a counseling ministry within the local church and how
to train lay people to assist the elders.
So,
what if you are counseling a person from another church?  I would highly recommend that you get in touch
with their pastor and have him involved in the counseling process so that he
can be an advocate and help in the process. Also, he will become trained in
biblical counseling and learn how to help people using the Word of God. My
husband and I have found that when we counsel people from other churches, it
makes it very difficult to get involved in their lives/accountability for the
one hour a week we meet. If they are in our church, it makes soul care much
easier.  
2. Since the fall, sin has tainted
all of us and we all struggle with the sin of pride. We have found that most of
our counselee’s from outside the church come to us because they don’t want
anyone from their church knowing they are having problems or do not feel
confident that their pastors/counselors can help them. This is not always the
case. From time to time, our counseling ministry is contacted because the
counselee’s have tried their own church and they cannot seem to get the help
they need due to  the church’s lack of
training (I talked about this in point #1). The majority of the time, it’s due
to their own pride.  Pride is within each
and every one of us and we need to help people understand that all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God. Just because someone may need counseling
during a hard time in their life should not force them to look for outside
sources. God has given the local church as a means of grace in the believer’s
life to help us be transformed into the image of Christ. We are all in this
battle of sin together, so why not use the resources the Lord has given us? This
is why we need to emphasize to our congregations that the best place for you to
grow and change in right in your very own church. The hour of counseling that
you may receive from another church is fine, but it’s not clearly enough. “Counselees
need the help of all church ministries: they need the pulpit ministry to teach
and motivate growth, the love of the other members as they assist and encourage
them, and the authority of the body for church discipline.”[1]
 As Paul Tripp says, “change is a
community project.”  The community he is
talking about is your church, not the church down the street.
3.  The local church has become “psychologized”  through the culture we live in. They have been
taken captive by philosophy and
empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits
of the world and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8). Many  Christians feel that they need a “professional”
counselor to help them, not a pastor or lay person trained in biblical
counseling.  I think most biblical
counselors can testify that by the time a counselee comes to us, they have
tried secular or integrated Christian counseling first, then we are contacted
as a last resort.  My prayer is that
Christians will stop being tossed to and fro by every wave of doctrine, and embrace
the sufficiency of Scripture when it comes to seeking help. His divine power
has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness which means the
Bible is not just useful to help you be a godly wife or mom, but the Word of
God is sufficient to help with the most complex issues you deal with. Both
integrated, Christian counseling and secular psychology result in spiritual
nearsightedness and blindness with a return back to slavery with no lasting
change.  Counselees that seek out this
type of help will be in a worse state than when they started (2 Peter 2:20).
Stacie
Gibson is a wife to her husband Matt of 20 years and together they have four
children.
 Stacie is a keeper of her home, home educator, loves to read, share
God’s word with women, and spend time with her family
    


[1]  William W. Goode. Page 222 from the book Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically by
John MacArthur. 

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