One of the major blessings of biblical counseling is that it naturally brings a missional mindset. I love that. Strong churches are not content to allow those around them to hurt without seeking to compassionately care.
I was training at one of our Launch partners in Long Island, NY and was thrilled to hear about their new plans to engage their community. They are planning to come alongside the local sheriff to help those come out of prison transition and talk with county leadership about how to help families in the new county medical center across the street that largely serves at-risk populations.
On the Sunday that I visited, they held a church picnic after church where I sat down at a table with a fourth grader and an eighth-grader from a Hispanic heritage. Soon, four more young Caribbean girls sat down along with a female young adult children’s volunteer. Twice a week the volunteer picks them up from the local transitional housing shelter and brings them to church and is sharing the gospel and her life with them.
As I rode to the airport, I sat with a 50-something carpenter who was in tears about how God had brought two young men to Christ in his men’s bible study. His face resonated joy as he described how his daughters were now marrying these two young men and they were all walking with the Lord and serving faithfully in this church.
This is a practical and inspiring example of a church that is embracing a missions mindset.
Taking a Missions Trip in counseling
This past weekend I taught from the Sermon on the Mount on how Jesus challenges us to overcome anxiety: placing value on what is eternal and trusting him with our future. I had read this passage many times, but I always stop way too early and missed something crucial to understanding this passage correctly.
Do you want to know what Jesus did right when he got done teaching about the new life and came down off the mountain? He took a missions trip. You can read about this trip in Matthew 8-9. It was quite some trip, with danger, uncertainty, opposition, and blessing. Over and over again, Jesus met the physical and spiritual needs of those he encountered. He proved he was worthy of trust in every area of life.
Look at what he did next! When they got back from the missions trip, He prayed for workers to go into the Harvest, and then he sent them out on their own missions trip to love others with the same compassion that he demonstrated throughout His missions trip. (Matthew 9:36-37)
I am convinced that many churches stall out because they never complete this crucial last step, they don’t take missions trips and they don’t send out saints for ministry. Our idea of missions trips is typically overseas, but how about across the street, across town, or into your schools, prisons, youth outreaches or health departments? The mission is what is important, not the location.
Changing our Goal
We should think about a new goal for counseling success! The true success in biblical counseling is for someone to become a disciple-maker. Teach people to obey, show them the power of God, prepare them to embrace their purpose, and send them out to impact others. Isn’t this the clear pattern of Jesus over and over? This is why effective counseling can’t be fully done in a counseling office or in 8 timed sessions.
The goal is that we send those who we counsel into the fields, where they can comfort others with the comfort they have been shown. This is why churches are the best place for biblical counseling and care. Speaking the truth in love over time is the best way to grow. Allowing scripture and relationships with God’s people to train you in righteousness and learning to shoulder responsibility in the disciple-making mission of the church.
Embracing Biblical Counseling changes your church culture by helping your people realize that they leave the service to enter the mission field.
Here are three implications of this mindset shift for those passionate about biblical counseling.
- The best counselors are often those who have been counseled because they return on a missions trip to your counseling ministry to help others find the hope and peace they have found.
- Our communities around us are full of opportunities for trained biblical counselors to make an impact as volunteers. Does your church send out trained counselors to youth/medical facilities, shelters, and prisons with the goal to listen long enough that our community feels loved? You can’t do it all, but partnering together with other churches can bring people marked with the gospel to many areas of need around us.
- Jesus taught us to be serious about equipping his disciples to be disciple-makers. Does the mission of your church align with this? It should! Biblical Counseling can be an effective way to train people of all backgrounds and ages to embrace the opportunities around them.
If you are wondering if your church can have a great impact, we would love for 2020 to be a year that your church looks back upon as a year where you stopped being content with doing church, and you started to do what the church exists for. We are thrilled when we hear our partner churches making progress. We would love to help you too!