Note: Many of you know that I have the privilege of serving as the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. In this role, one of my joys has been interviewing leaders in the biblical counseling world. This past weekend the BCC collated the first 15 interviews with a focus on definitions of biblical counseling. You can read the original post at The BCC Weekend Interview Series: Defining Biblical Counseling. I have also posted it below.
Defining Biblical Counseling
In most of our BCC Weekend Interview Series,participants have provided a succinct working definition of biblical counseling. We thought it would be instructive to collate these definitions (provided as of September 9. 2011). Please remember that none of the interviewees were sharing these definitions as their final, robust, complete descriptions of biblical counseling. We offer them in alphabetical order.
Association of Biblical Counselors, President Jeremy Lelek: “ABC defers to the two definitions offered by the authors of our training materials, Dr. John Henderson and Dr. Bob Kellemen. They are as follows:
- Biblical Counseling is a fluid event and process, as part of the Great Commission, whereby one or more theologically and relationally qualified persons provide spiritual, emotional, and behavioral service, comfort, and guidance in love to one or more persons through the truth and power of God’s Word under the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John Henderson).
- Biblical Counseling is Christ-centered, church-based, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed one-another ministry thatdepends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s Word to suffering and sin by speaking and living God’s truth in love to equip people to love God and one another (Matthew 22:35-40). It cultivates conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ leading to a community of one-another disciple-makers (Matthew 28:18-20) (Dr. Bob Kellemen).”
Briarwood Counseling Ministries of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Pastor Howard Eyrich: “Biblical counseling is about loving people by taking the time to understand them, interpreting their life situations through the grid of Scripture, confronting them with God’s framework, and challenging them to engage in the put off, mind renewal, and put on dynamic of Ephesians 4:22-24.”
Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Pastor Deepak Reju: “We believe Scripture provides hope for even the darkest of human sin and suffering. So our goal is to erect from the Bible a model and method to wisely help people with their problems. As biblical counselors, we seek to build strong relationships and help people to apply the gospel in ways that are meaningful and direction-giving. Our counseling is shaped by a Christ-centered view of human life as found in the Christian Scriptures, which takes seriously the physical, social, and developmental nature of our difficulties. We believe that people can be healed, strengthened, and built up as they grow in their understanding of the gospel and in their relationship with Christ. However, this doesn’t happen apart from our personal dependence on Him and seeking of His help.”
Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), Executive Director Tim Lane: “Biblical counseling involves walking patiently with someone, while wisely connecting them to Christ through the grace-centered message of the Bible. This one-on-one ministry is done in the community of the church where both the normal and complex problems of daily life can be addressed.”
Counseling Solutions Group, President Rick Thomas: “Compassionately and competently bringing relational care to others through the means of God’s Word and the local church.”
Faith Biblical Counseling Center of Faith Bible Church, Biblical Counselor Martha Peace: “Biblical counseling is a model of counseling that believes that God truly has given us ‘everything we need pertaining to life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3). Biblical counseling adheres to a high view of God and a biblically-accurate view of man. The counseling is Christ-centered and practical. Therefore, there is amazing hope and help.”
Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries, Pastor Rob Green: “Biblical Counseling is the process where the Bible, God’s Word, is related individually to a person or persons who are struggling under the weight of personal sin and/or the difficulties with suffering, so that he or she might genuinely change in the inner person to be pleasing to God.”
Grace Fellowship Church, Pastor Brad Bigney:“The goal in biblical counseling is to come alongside a person who is struggling and seek to apply the principles in God’s Word in such a way that the person responds in an obedient and godly manner to the problems they are facing to the glory of God and the person’s own good.”
GraceXchange Counseling www.gracexchange.me, Rev. Shawn Doud: “Biblical counseling is applying God’s assessment of who we are, where we are broken, and how Christ brings the grace of repentance to all areas of our thinking, believing, and doing. Biblical counseling is short term, pastoral, problem-attentive discipleship.”
Harvest Bible Chapel Soul Care Ministry, Pastor Garrett Higbee: “Speaking the truth of God’s Word in the light of His grace to transform lives in the compassionate Spirit of God, through the intentional community of God.”
Immanuel Bible Church, Pastor Paul Tautges: “Biblical counseling is an intensely-focused and personal aspect of the discipleship process whereby believers come alongside one another for the threefold purpose of teaching, warning, and leading one another toward the biblical love and godliness that mark progress toward spiritual maturity (2 Timothy 3:16-17).”
Overseas Instruction in Counseling, Executive Director Wayne Vanderwier: “Biblical counseling is that action or process in which a believer (or group of believers) lovingly confronts and scripturally instructs a (sinning or suffering) fellow-believer for the purpose of affecting God-glorifying change.”
RPM Ministries, Executive Director Bob Kellemen: “Biblical counseling is Christ-centered, church-based, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed one-another ministry thatdepends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s inspired truth about people, problems, and solutions to human suffering (through Christian sustaining and healing) and sin (through Christian reconciling and guiding) to empower people to exalt and enjoy God and to love others (Matthew 22:35-40) by cultivating conformity to Christ and communion with Christ and the Body of Christ, leading to a community of one-another disciple-makers (Matthew 28:18-20).”
Reigning Grace Counseling Ministries, Co-Founder Julie Ganschow: “Biblical counseling is intensive, targeted discipleship that reaches the heart level of the problem where true and lasting change takes place. I want my counselee’s to understand that living their lives to glorify God is the most important thing, not feeling better.”
Truth in Love Ministries, Founder Mark Shaw: “We define team biblical counseling as at least two redeemed sinners partnering together in the body of Christ to ‘speak the truth in love’ to counselees so that all involved may know God intimately, glory the Lord, become more like Christ, fulfill the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40), and fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). It is disciple-making that is Christ-centered, Gospel-driven, Word-based, and Holy Spirit-empowered. This type of counseling must always be compassionate!”
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Which definitions resonate most with you? What is your succinct definition of biblical counseling?
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I believe that biblical counseling should include the expectation that not the power of God is going to move in a person’s life also as they receive and act on the Word. That power can be manifested in healing and deliverance from demonic strongholds.