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We are all Called to Counsel by Shauna Van Dyke

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That moment when God allows us to see the world through a biblical lens, sitting in awe of Him and the story He is telling through our life, is incredible. When we realize our life isn’t defined by our past or our pain but by our union with Christ, we start to discover strength in our weakness, love in the sting of rejection, wisdom in the face of foolishness, and security in spite of profound loneliness. In moments like these, God’s love and grace ignite an overwhelming passion to share this truth and hope with others and renew our desire to disciple and counsel others to walk more faithfully and joyfully in the midst of their circumstances.

            We all give or seek advice, guidance, and counsel in a variety of contexts—it’s a huge part of our everyday life. Whether we like what is said, or not, the fact remains that we value the opinions of others. We humans provide counsel or give guidance perpetually. Misguided or superficial advice can be detrimental to the recipient, so the critical question is, what type of counsel are we giving and receiving?

If we are all counselors—and we are—we should all seek to provide “biblical” counsel. Wise counsel provides comfort and guidance in love through the truth and power of God’s Word under the ministry of His Holy Spirit. Dr. Jeremy Lelek defines biblical counseling as, “a model of care that brings Scripture to bear on the multitude of struggles that plague the human soul, while simultaneously offering scriptural, gospel-saturated insight on how human beings can flourish.”[1]

ABC’s Mission

Biblical counseling relationally applies the “one-another commands” in a formal or informal context through the means of God’s Word. Counseling isn’t normally “fun” or “easy.” When we engage in the war against sin, we must maintain patience in the process of conviction, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Our hearts break as we cry with others after they’ve lost a loved one, are recovering from a suicide attempt, or while walking through depression. Joining our comrades in the trenches can be uncomfortable.  At times, we have more hope and fight in us for a couple’s marriage and family than they have themselves. In these times, we walk out the Scriptures on carrying another’s burden and help others during the hard times to cultivate a deeper dependency on God alone. For this very reason, our mission at the Association of Biblical Counselors is to enlist, equip, enrich, and encourage all believers everywhere to live and counsel the Word, applying the gospel to the whole experience of life. We exist to:

  • ENLIST believers with a heart to grow in their knowledge of Scripture as it practically applies to the myriad of issues encountered in counseling.
  • EQUIP the church and community by providing training and certification in the work of biblical counseling and discipleship.
  • ENRICH members by offering ongoing resources with a robust biblical worldview of people and their problems while promoting Scripture as the supreme source wherein healing truth may be found.
  • ENCOURAGE followers of Jesus Christ to know, cherish, and honor Him as they minister His Word to one another while supporting each other.

Philosophy on Certification

 The Association of Biblical Counselors’ official position on the ministry of counseling is that the Bible possesses supreme authority as it regards mankind, human nature and motivation; the purpose and process of change; and man’s relationship to God. We recognize that secular attempts to answer the ultimate questions of psychology and counseling (i.e., Who is man? Why do people do what they do? How do people change? Why should a person change?) fall short in their answers since they do not acknowledge the reality of a personal God in whose presence mankind continually functions and develops. We affirm the Bible’s sufficiency in constructing a comprehensive model of biblical counseling, and that the work of biblical counseling is an endeavor in which all believers should participate, and that it is a work to be shared by the entire body of Christ.

ABC’s hope is to raise up biblical counselors around the world. We believe this should first happen in the local church, and we also support the need for professional counseling centers. Our pathway and methodology is designed to equip all believers to connect their theological understanding within their role as a care giver, or for a professional seeking a deeper specialization in applying the Bible within their practice. ABC has created specific resources to meet each of these unique positions.

When I describe a counseling ministry, I often reference how John Henderson, ABC board member and author of Equipped to Counsel, defines it:

“Every church, we believe, has been called and enabled to train, oversee, and encourage counseling ministry. Every believer, in the same way, has been called and enabled to learn and engage counseling ministry over time.

Professional counseling efforts, informed and shaped by Scripture, can be viewed and treated as a subset of the larger whole. Professional counseling should not be treated as an evil enterprise in and of itself, or as a mystic, sacred office held by a super-educated elite, but as one facet of the Church’s mission to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world.

Every redeemed person who assumes the role of Counselor, even in professional and secular settings, can see himself or herself as a minister of the gospel and an extension of the church of Jesus Christ. We all belong to His church and should be pursuing active fellowship in His church.[2]

Pathway to Certification

The Association of Biblical Counselors strives to advance this philosophy by partnering with churches and providing resources for equipping the saints for the work of counseling ministry. We encourage followers of Jesus Christ to know, cherish, and honor Him as they minister His Word to one another. This is why we have designed a three-level pathway for certification. The ABC certification process allows churches to train, evaluate, and mobilize men and women who understand and offer a Christ-exalting, Scripture-based form of one-another ministry.

Our pathway provides believers with a foundational process in which to grow while allowing them to practically apply the truth while they learn. Our certification parameters create a culture of accountability and provide the means to becoming equipped in applying the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyday life. Each level offers a measurable and tangible way to track the counselor’s progress.

For each of our three levels, our process consists of training, reading, writing, exams, collaboration, and supervision. A student can receive training through our online platform or through one of our U.S. or Canadian training centers.

  • Level 1 – Develop a biblical philosophy in the work of counseling and discipleship, gain an understanding of biblical counseling, and acquire a basic understanding of the general and specific methods.
  • Level 2 – Gain a deeper understanding of theology and dependency on the Holy Spirit. Develop practical and advanced skills in biblical counseling by ministering to others in supervised interactions.
  • Level 3 – Granted to individuals with advanced training that have already received a Masters or Doctorate from an ABC approved seminary or Bible Institution.
  • Specializations – Coming soon: in-depth training and certification in Marriage & Family, Addictions, Eating Disorders, Counseling Children and Teens, Trauma, and Domestic Abuse.
  • Maintaining ABC Certification – All of our certifications require continual learning and development of skills in biblical counseling. In order to maintain any level of ABC certification, counselors must faithfully and fruitfully grow in their spiritual maturity. To facilitate this, we provide annual national conferences and a growing library of resources.

 

Certification and so much more…

  • ABC offers an annual membership which provides access to our database of resources for use in counseling ministry. It also includes our EquipU Resource and videos from our annual conferences. Find out more about our membership, network (BCN), and certification pathway through our website at www.christiancounseling.com.
  • Podcast. Speak the Truth offers podcasts that educate and encourage the individual and local church in counseling and discipleship. Listen to episodes or find out more at SpeaktheTruth.org.
  • Annual Conference. Each year attendees glean from the knowledge and experience of other pastors, counselors, and teachers, receiving powerful Scripture-filled input about relevant issues in biblical soul care. This is a place to bring your whole team. To register or for more information, visit our website at CalledtoCounsel.com.
  • ABC RESources. We create and publish resources to help equip all who are called to counsel. Current titles include the “Counsel through Scripture” book series, counseling commentaries on Philippians and James, observation videos, and the “Equip the Counselor” video training (“Caring for Marriages” by Jonathan Holmes). Find these in our online store at https://store.christiancounseling.com/.

[1] Quote from Biblical Counseling Basics: Roots, Beliefs and Future by Jeremy Lelek.

[2] Quote from Equipped to Counsel by John Henderson.


Posted on April 3, 2024