This post has a free resource at the bottom regarding “5 Things Your Church Needs to Launch An Effective Biblical Counseling Team“.
Growing up, I lived for nearly 10 years on a cul-de-sac in a Chicago suburb but never physically saw my neighbor. They had a car with tinted windows and they pulled directly into their garage, shut the door, and hired lawn service to complete any outside work. I’m sure at some point I might have passed them in the store but I had no idea what they even looked like. As I played with my friends in the court, I would often hear neighbors share their theories about what they were up to inside, but no one ever knocked on the door.
As a kid, I didn’t talk with my neighbor because I didn’t know what I would say to them, and they seemed like they weren’t up to talking. I sometimes imagined they were sitting in their house watching us out the window and wondering why we never introduced ourselves to them.
Tragically, this is the same experience many have with their church. They drive in and out, but no one really knows them. They are part of the community but feel all alone. It’s way too easy to blame the neighbor but our churches need to do better. We live in the midst of a world that is hurting and feels all alone and we have answers that bring hope and life. Too many churches have neighbors who come and go with no one to walk through life with.
We can’t be content with this.
Healthy churches need to wrestle with how they might get more of the congregation under the care of a quality shepherd. A quality shepherd is one who cares, protects, teaches and knows the sheep. The reality is you likely won’t accomplish placing more sheep under the care of quality shepherd unless you are intentional with your efforts to train more shepherds. You have to equip the saints to do the shepherding work of caring, protecting, teaching and knowing the sheep in a personal way.
This is the essence of Biblical Counseling: intensified, personalized discipleship.
Biblical Counselor and author, David Powlison, recently described Biblical Counseling this way: “It essentially means a loving, purposeful, probing, attentive, thoughtful, collaborative, candid, patient, constructive, practical, nourishing conversation.” We often describe it like this in our training, “Speaking the Truth in Love over Time in Community is the Sweet Spot for Spiritual growth.” How are you doing at being this kind of shepherd and friend? How is your church doing at being a good neighbor/shepherd? These kinds of conversation matter!
You cannot be effective in great commission work without a commitment to Biblical shepherding and discipleship.
Growing up, I also had other neighbors on my cul-de-sac who were different because we talked almost daily. They likely knew my favorite hoodie, whether my ball team won or lost and if I was running late to school. They grieved with me when my grandmother died and they attended celebrations of the big events in my life. They watered our flowers while we are on vacation, left the dog out in an emergency and kept a watchful eye out when we were gone. They were neighbors I could count on to care. Proverbs 27:10 talks about this.
 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. (Proverbs 27:10 ESV)
It’s a huge advantage if you have neighbors who are near and who care enough to walk through life with you. Friends who share wisdom with you on how to overcome life’s struggles are even more valuable. Why don’t more churches function like this?
The sad reality is that too many Christians don’t know how to care for the hurting and most churches don’t know how to train them to care.
We long for more churches to be known for these kind of conversations happening in cul-de-sacs, church pews, and living rooms by shepherds they have equipped to care. This is Biblical Counseling. This is discipleship. It’s what we’re called to do.