Why is it that even in the church people do not look to the church as their first stop for counselling. It is a sadness, even for my own church experience and ministry, that we don’t seem to have the environment in our churches whereby people look to the people of God as their place for help in real life issues. Counselling has largely been hijacked from the church and been transposed into the professional health sector.
One reason for this , I believe, has been the professionalisation of the counselling process. People now “go for counselling” or are “referred to a counsellor”. Moreover, people perceive that unless there is some formal establishment of the arrangement then counselling is not taking place. So here are some thoughts:
- The church has the truth of God and that is found in the scriptures. We have that which is capable of meeting all the needs of life. Ultimately secular counselling lacks this wisdom. Any counselling which operates without reference to God and His word is lacking.
- The ability of all the church to be speaking the truth in love into each others lives is something we need to cultivate. So much can be accomplished in helping one another and saving one another from messing up in life, through this ministry.
- Everyone is differently gifted, but we need those who have a special ability to listen and care and guide. So everyone should be inclined to help one another through speaking the Word into situations. However, there are those especially gifted in this ministry who we need as pastors or women workers among us.
- There may be times when we need specialist help such as with eating disorders. But I suggest that this should be utilized under the supervision of the church and not independent of the church.
There are organisations who are valiantly pushing forward healthily in this field to encourage counselling amongst God’s people. Biblical Counseling UK is one and details of it are here. Please see also here for Christian Counselling and Education Foundation. The Biblical Counseling Coalition here is also worth looking at.
I have previously had an aversion to trumpeting our ability to provide counselling in church for fearing that it sounds pompous and we are aggrandizing ourselves without due justification. But I am increasingly persuaded that this has been false humility and we should be more assertive in pushing the church towards being overtly a provider of counselling.