A Guest Post by Dave Jenkins
Biblical Counseling and the Local Church
As many new books have come out on biblical counseling, in the past five years I have consumed more and more on the topic of biblical counseling. The result has been my seeing a greater need for biblical counseling in the local church.
My aim in this article is to encourage those who are engaged in the work of biblical counseling by calling to them to continue in faithfulness in serving and shepherding God’s people in the context of the local church.
The Pulpit Ministry of the Word and the Personal Ministry of the Word
Biblical counseling (the personal ministry of the Word) is not an opponent of the pulpit ministry, but an extension of the pulpit ministry of the Word and a means to shepherd God’s people. Biblical counseling in the church can be defined as taking the Word of God and helping God’s people not only learn from the Word, but to submit to and apply the Word to their daily lives.
God’s people deserve competent, loving, qualified, and shepherding care. This is why biblical counseling aims to serve and shepherd God’s people. It aims to do so by helping people going through any of life’s issues learn to apply the redemptive story of Christ into every nook and cranny of their lives. The Bible speaks loudly and plainly to the issues we face and as it does it points us to Christ alone.
Equipping the Saints
Part of a pastor’s job is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Pastors are to shepherd the people of God well and to help them grow in knowledge and skill with God’s Word. Biblical counseling aims to help people learn to handle the Word of God, but instead of standing behind a pulpit, the pastor/counselor stands beside hurting people with the Word. They stand not only beside, but walk alongside hurting people to help them understand the truth of God’s Word.
Pastors can support the work of biblical counselors by encouraging those who sense a calling to this work to get certified in biblical counseling through an organization such as the ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). Such certification programs help biblical counselors to learn not only biblical doctrine, but how to counsel from God’s Word with skill and a focus to help people grow in applying the Word to their own lives.
Pastors cannot meet with and counsel everyone in the church. They need help to care and counsel. This does not mean that pastors should never counsel; it means they need to have trusted men to counsel men, trusted women to counsel women, and have trusted married couples counseling married couples.
Equipped to Shepherd
The church needs men and women equipped to give competent care by trained biblical counselors. The need is great and will only increase as our culture continues its steadied and continual descent away from God. Biblical counseling is a ministry where men and women can serve under godly qualified biblical elders who provide accountability and oversight, while organizations like ACBC provide excellent equipping, certification, and training to help men and women to provide competent, professional care for God’s people.
Biblical counseling combined with biblical preaching is the need of the hour. People need to be equipped in knowing how to handle the Word and equally to understand how to navigate the challenges of life. Biblical counseling seeks to serve the pulpit ministry which is why biblical counseling is a ministry to serve and shepherd God’s people.
Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, as well as the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. He and his wife, Sarah, are members of Ustick Baptist Church in Boise, Idaho, where they serve in a variety of ministries. Dave received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can find him on Twitter @DaveJJenkins, Facebook, and at Servants of Grace.