• Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009, Part 2

    Posted on December 29th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009

    Part 2: Trends 5-1

    Note: For Part 1 and trends 10-6, please visit here.

    It’s hard to believe that the first decade of the 21st century has come and gone.

    As the decade ends, I’ve been pondering the top ten positive trends over the past ten years in biblical counseling.

    It’s exciting to reflect on what God is doing as He empowers His Church.

    Enjoy trends five-to-one (in reverse order to heighten the anticipation!). And please join the conversation and let me know what your selections would be.

    5. Culturally-Informed Approaches

    There was also a time when “modern biblical counseling” consisted of “a bunch of white guys.” Thankfully, the “movement” is maturing due to the contributions of a growing multiethnic group of women and men. Elyse Fitzpatrick, Lucy Ann Moll, and Susan Ellis are just three examples of women leading the way in biblical counseling. Pastor Deepak Reju of Nine Marks Ministries, Dr. Elias Moitinho, Pastor Dwayne Bond, and the Black African American Association of Christian Counselors (BAACC) are representatives of a multiethnic group of individuals and associations promoting biblical counseling. My own books, Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction, and Sacred Friendships: Celebrating the Legacy of Women Heroes of the Faith each seek to teach biblical counseling from a multicultural perspective. There’s also an encouraging movement of international biblical counseling with Wayne Vanderweir’s Overseas Instruction in Counseling being just one such examples.

    4. Comprehensive Models

    Once upon a time, biblical counseling could be labeled one-dimensional with a focus on combating the impact of the fall/sin on human nature. Today, biblical counseling comprehensively examines creation (understanding people from God’s original design), fall (diagnosing problems resulting from sin), and redemption (prescribing God’s solutions through our salvation and sanctification in Christ). Models also formerly tended to highlight the behavioral aspects of growth in grace. Today they emphasize our relational (spiritual, social, and self-aware), rational (images and beliefs), volitional (motivational and behavioral), emotional, and physical nature in a comprehensive manner. Eric Johnson’s Foundations for Soul Care, and my work Soul Physicians are just two examples of books written in the past ten years to offer comprehensive theological foundations for biblical counseling.

    3. Progressive Sanctification Focus

    Current models of biblical counseling have made great progress in teaching that the counseling process is simply a sub-set of the discipleship process, both of which God designs to assist us to grow in grace. The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) has spent the past decade equipping pastors and lay people to assist God’s people in the progressive sanctification process. The mission of the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN) is to link biblical counseling and spiritual formation to develop theological models and methodological approaches leading to progressive sanctification.

    2. Sufficiency of Scripture Emphasis

    Rather than harp on what’s wrong with other models, over the past ten years there has been an increasing focus on the sufficiency, relevancy, profundity, and authority of God’s Word for Christian living. David Powlison’s Seeing with New Eyes and Speaking Truth in Love, Michael Emlet’s Cross Talk, and my Spiritual Friends all practice the sufficiency of Scripture by teaching why and how to saturate biblical counseling with scriptural explorations and spiritual conversations

    1. Christ-Centered Purpose

    Biblical counseling over the past ten years has re-committed itself to the primary purpose of glorifying Christ. It’s all about Him. For instance, the use of Scripture (sufficiency of Scripture) to assist one another to grow in grace (progressive sanctification) has as its final goal helping one another to exalt and enjoy Christ now and forever. Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Counsel from the Cross exemplifies this type of Gospel-centered biblical counseling.

    We can bring together these top ten trends of the past ten years to offer a working definition of biblical counseling.

    Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling depends upon the Holy Spirit to relate God’s inspired truth about people, problems, and solutions to human suffering (through the Christian soul care arts of sustaining and healing) and sin (through the Christian spiritual direction arts of 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.

    Join the Conversation

    What top trends would you add to this list?

    What individuals, groups, and books would you add to trends 5-1?

    In 75 words or less, how would you define biblical counseling?

  • Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009

    Posted on December 27th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Top Ten Trends in Biblical Counseling from 2000-2009

    Part 1: Trends 10-6

    Do you remember where you were when “Y2K” did not hit? That was the beginning of the decade that people don’t know what to call. Is it the zeros?

    People often like to label decades by “themes.” I’ve already heard some people call the past decade the “Selfish Decade.”

    While there’s certainly plenty of negatives to toss about, I’d like to consider some positives. Remember, “Aslan is still on the move!”

    Here are the first five of my top ten positive trends in biblical counseling over the past ten years (in reverse order, of course, to heighten anticipation!).

    10. Synergy Is Energy

    Instead of territory-protecting and camp-building, increasingly biblical counseling groups are choosing to work together and to learn from each other. For example, Jeremy Lelek and the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) are to be commended for hosting a symposium that brought together leaders from Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries (FBCM), the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), the Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN), and the Society for Christian Psychology (SCP).

    9. Positive Perspective

    For too long, modern biblical counseling suffered under the stereotype of what it was against. Over the past decade a shift has taken place as we’ve focused more on what we’re for. For example, the BCSFN, which was launched this decade, included “being a positive voice for biblical counseling” in its vision statement. The SCP purposes to develop from the Scriptures and Church history a positive presentation of a psychology (understanding of the soul as designed by God) that is thoroughly Christian.

    8. New Gen Leadership

    We all ought to be grateful for the “founders” of the “modern” biblical counseling movement. I’m also grateful for a new generation of leaders in biblical counseling. Examples abound. I think of Pastor Rob Green at Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries and Faith Seminary, of Chris Boucher at Capital Bible Seminary, Brad Hambrick of Crossroads Counseling, and Garrett Higbee of Twelve Stones Ministries.

    7. Local Church Equipping

    There’s a growing movement to return biblical counseling and spiritual friendship to its rightful place—the local church. Pastors are being equipped to equip their people for one another ministry. Among many examples are the CCEF, the BCSFN, FBCM, the ABC, Rick Thomas of The Counseling Solutions Group, and my own RPM Ministries all have well-developed local church equipping models, conferences, seminars, and consulting ministries. And individual churches are increasingly becoming equipping centers, such as Faith Baptist under the leadership of Pastor Steve Viars, Harvest Bible Chapel under the leadership of Pastor James MacDonald and Dr. Garrett Higbee, and New Antioch Baptist Church’s “LEAD” ministry under the direction of Sister Ellen Barney (where she has trained over 500 women in spiritual friendship). These equipping ministries and churches understand that biblical counseling is a normal part of the one another ministry that God calls every believer to participate in.

    6. Compassionate Care

    There was a time when “modern biblical counseling” was stereotyped as “harsh confrontation.” Joyfully, that label is dissipating as biblical counselors embrace a biblical sufferology. Biblical counseling is addressing how to provide soul care through sustaining and healing for suffering. It is also addressing how to provide gentle, humble spiritual direction for sin and sanctification through reconciling and guiding. Paul Tautges’ Comfort Those Who Grieve is one excellent example of biblical counseling for suffering. Ian Jones’ Counsel of Heaven on Earth is a great example of compassionate care for both suffering and sin. My own work, Spiritual Friends equips readers with twenty-two biblical counseling relational competencies for helping those who are suffering and sinning to move toward growth in grace.

    The Rest of the Story

    Be sure to join us for Part II when I share top trends 5-1 related to biblical counseling from 2000-2009.

    Join the Conversation

    What top trends would you add to this list?

    What individuals, groups, churches, and books would you add to trends 10-6?

  • SOUL-u-tion-Focused Ministry

    Posted on December 12th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety


    Part 24: SOUL-u-tion-Focused Ministry


    Note: For previous posts in this blog mini-series, visit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23.  


    Big Idea: Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. We need God’s prescription for victory over anxiety.


    SOUL-u-tion Focused Biblical Counseling


    The Apostle Paul’s solution to anxiety is not simply to exhort, “Stop being anxious!”


    In fact, Paul is not solution-focused. He’s SOUL-u-tion focused!


    True biblical counseling is soul-to-soul counseling. True victory over anxiety, worry, fear, stress, panic, and phobia only occurs in the context of relationship.


    We discover this biblical reality in the larger context of Philippians 4:6-7.


    Relational Healing for Victory Over Anxiety


    Biblical counseling sometimes is accused of the stereotype of, “Take two verses and call me in the morning.” Someone struggles with anxiety and they’re prescribed Philippians 4:6-7.


    Scripture is totally sufficient. It is not a lucky charm.


    Scripture is totally relevant. It is not applied out of context—neither out of the person’s life context, nor out of the scriptural context.


    We’ve been applying the sufficiency and relevancy of Philippians 4:6-7 for conquering anxiety when anxiety attacks. But certainly not in a “take two verses” mentality.


    So let’s travel back a bit in the scriptural context of Philippians and let’s notice some relational prescriptions for healing anxiety.


    *Therefore my brothers (4:1)

    *You whom I love and long for (4:1)

    *Stand firm in the Lord, dear friends (4:1)

    *I plead with Euodia and Syntyche to agree with each other (4:2)

    *Loyal friends, help these women who have contended at my side (4:3)

    *Along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers (4:3)


    It Takes a Community


    Paul lives and ministers soul-to-soul with brothers whom he loves and longs for. Is that how we minister, or do we minister arms-length, giving one another spiritual stiff-arms?


    Paul’s biblical counsel for victory over anxiety involves standing firm in community. With brothers and sisters in Christ. With dear spiritual friends.


    “Loyal friends” (or “yokefellows”) is used only this one time in the Bible. It means united by a relational bond as close as family. It pictures comrades, partners, loyal spiritual friends. A band of brothers. Sisters in the Spirit.


    “Fellow workers” is sun athleo: athletes together! Teammates.  


    It’s not, “Take two verses and call me in the morning.”


    It’s, “Travel with a few safe spiritual friends morning, noon, and night.”


    It’s, “Cultivate a band of brothers, a sorority of sisters, a team of spiritual athletes, a family of spiritual friends.”


    Victory over anxiety comes in community.


    Making It Real


    1. How do you minister? Arms-length? Spiritual stiff-arms? Solution-focused? Or soul-to-soul? Loving and longing? SOUL-u-tion-focused?


    2. Who are you spiritual athletes together with? Who are your spiritual teammates?


    3. Who are you loyal, trustworthy friends with? Do you have a band of spiritual brothers? A sorority of spiritual sisters?


    The Rest of the Story


    What sort of spiritual conversations can spiritual brothers and sisters engage in to experience joint victory over anxiety? We’ll find out next time.


    Join the Journey


    How can biblical ministry move from solution-focused to SOUL-u-tion-focused?