A Report on the Historic Biblical Counseling Coalition Summit

What do you get when you fill a room for two days with nearly forty biblical counseling leaders asking, “Can we coalesce around an agreed upon vision of the center of biblical counseling?” No one knew the answer to that question entering the May 3-4, 2010 meeting of the Biblical Counseling Coalition (BCC) in Chicago.

We do now. At the end of the two days, the group unanimously decided to use the result of the conversation to continue crafting a statement summarizing the center or core concepts that define the heart of what makes biblical counseling truly biblical. The steering committee will now work with strategically selected and representative participants in drafting a “biblical counseling confessional statement” that all participants will be able to interact with and help bring to a final draft.

But perhaps even more important, relationships of trust were deepened. When some two dozen pastors, educators, counselors, authors, and ministry leaders first met in February 2010, the question was, “Is the time right to launch a new coalition of biblical counselors?” Out of that meeting came the conviction that “we must coalesce before we form a coalition.”

So during the two-day May meeting, large portions of times were purposefully allotted to relationship building. Participants were able to share their personal history of involvement in biblical counseling. They were encouraged to express candidly their passion about the center of the movement. In large group interaction, in small group sharing, and in one-to-one conversations, participants engaged in mutually empowering spiritual conversations that moved the discussion beyond the “head knowledge level” to the personal heart level of “how is the Bible and biblical counseling impacting my life and my ministry for Christ and others?”

New relationships were formed, long-term relationships were strengthened, and each participant’s relationship to Christ was deepened because of shared worship, fellowship, and mutual discipleship. In one sense, the meeting turned out not simply to be a discussion of biblical counseling, but an engagement in mutual biblical counseling. It was a demonstration of the power of one another ministry and of speaking the truth in love so that everyone grows together in Christ Who is the Head.

This unity was especially amazing given the wide-spectrum of diverse individuals gathered together at the meeting. There was purposeful diversity in terms of age, gender, geography, and ethnicity. There was also purposeful diversity regarding the ministries, schools, churches, and denominations gathered. Additionally, there was great variety in terms of the actual ministry of the participants: some are senior pastors, some counseling/discipleship pastors, some undergraduate educators, some graduate or seminary educators, and some leaders of para-church organizations. Yet within this diverse group, several times of spontaneous prayer of worship/adoration, and of confession, and of supplication developed. The group experienced unity, not uniformity.

Part of the vision of a Biblical Counseling Coalition is to move from “silos” to synergy—from many people and organizations doing independent ministry, to many independent ministries working together for the cause of Christ. The Gospel Coalition is one organization that the Biblical Counseling Coalition could potentially model itself after. If the May meeting is any indication, then that vision could have a powerful, positive impact upon the local church.

The steering committee will be meeting to assess the best “next steps” to continue the progress made both relationally and organizationally during this May meeting (“organizing the organism”). But regardless of future “action items,” the meeting was a success because Christ was honored as Christians listened well to one another, built one another up in Christian love, and focused on how to be a positive presence for helping Christ’s church build itself up in truth and love.

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