By “in-house counsel” I don’t mean that churches should have lawyers on staff. That might send the wrong message.What I do mean is that churches should strive to engage in biblical counseling with one another as part of its discipleship ministry, with the pastor serving as chief discipler/counselor. Fortunately, biblical counseling is not its caricature, of a professional setting in which someone reclines on a couch and tries to get in touch with his feelings. As many point out, biblical counseling is “intensive discipleship” or “applied discipleship,” and can occur informally — between believers over coffee — or formally — when a pastor works with a couple to avoid divorce.
Biblical counsel is such a natural part of relationships, that we are counseling much more than we realize (some good, some not so good), especially if we claim to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. In fact, if we are discipling, we are counseling; if we are making disciple-makers we are making biblical counselors.I previously posted the problems that arise when pastors avoid counseling (article). Here are a few of the benefits that result when a pastor and the congregation are faithful and deliberate about biblical counseling:1. We confirm the biblical witness. Scripture encourages believers in our ability to “admonish one another” (Romans 15:14). We are even commanded to engage in counseling one another (Galatians 6:1, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:14). This is a task that is not to be delegated en masse to “professionals” or to non-member counselors.
2. We affirm the power of the gospel. Scripture teaches that the gospel delivers us from the penalty of sin. But it also teaches that the gospel saves us from the power of sin, now, and the presence of sin, in the heavenly state. We preach the power of the gospel to save men from the penalty of sin on Sundays. Through biblical counseling, we preach on Monday through Saturday that the gospel is able to save men from the power of sin: anger, marital problems, parenting issues, addictions, fear of man, pride, gluttony…
3. We faithfully, biblically, disciple men. I fear that for many of us, “discipleship” is simply a matter of having a daily quiet time: reading the Bible and praying, and teaching others to do the same. But Scripture is clear that one aspect of discipleship is “putting off” sin and “putting on” righteousness. When someone has a need for counseling, there is sin to be put off and righteousness to be put on. Seldom are we able to accomplish that alone, for ourselves, which is where biblical counseling — intensive discipleship — comes in.