Right after I finished college, I was asked to meet with two middle school aged boys whose father had recently taken his life. I was a young single man and I was nervous that I would say the wrong thing. These boys had already been in so much pain, and I didn’t want to make it worse. I had taken some training in Biblical Counseling, had a reputation for connecting with young people, but I had never walked anyone through an issue like this before. I didn’t know if they would sit quietly, cry, or be angry. I knew one thing though: God loved them and desired for me to demonstrate that to them.
I hatched a plan: “Scripture and Stickball”.
Each week we would look at one truth about God, talk about it, and go to the parking lot to play stickball. Our counseling sessions rarely lasted more than 20 minutes but that is all that junior high boys in that situation could probably handle. We talked about God’s love, sovereignty and assured them that we were there for them. I listened and answered questions they had and found another older women to work with their mom through her grief.
You might wonder if you or your church should consider developing Biblical Counselors. While counseling situations can be complicated at times, “Scripture and Stickball” works. Stickball is really an example of building a bridge into the life of a hurting soul for the purpose of sharing God’s love and truth with them. Stickball with a young mom might be help folding laundry and holding a grown-up conversation. Stickball with a college student might be an invitation to Sunday dinner and a conversation about their future plans. Stickball with someone stricken with cancer might be a ride home when the nausea is unbearable. Stickball with a grieving widower might an early morning breakfast at the local pancake house. Your stickball might be conversations and coffee, working on cars for single moms, hospitality, or inviting disconnected men onto a work team.
Do you know what your stickball is? God calls all of us to find our stickball and use our unique interests to make a difference.
You may have wondered how you or your church would benefit from Biblical Counseling training? God puts you in stickball situations because he wants you to share his love and truth. The one-another verses in Scripture reminds us the necessity of healthy, life-giving, Biblical conversations to help each other grow. Galatians 6:1-3 paints a beautiful picture of this when it instructs us to help restore one another and carry each other’s burdens. Colossians 3:15-17 reminds us to be having these type of conversations often where we are encouraging one another and helping each other to apply the word to our life.
Our goal in Biblical Counseling training is that churches would be full of “Scripture and Stickball” types of situations. Some of this happens in a formal office, but in healthy churches more of it happens elsewhere. Everyone goes through struggles and everyone needs other people to walk alongside them in love. Some churches outsource any difficult counseling conversations rather than equipping their own people to care while other churches rely upon the pastors to do all the care, but either option is never enough. Outsourcing creates an unhelpful separation of the church from everyday problems or relying only on the pastoral staff creates really tired pastors and either option isn’t God’s plan. God desires for all of his children to care for the hurting, pursue the lost sheep and disciple others. Biblical Counseling is not just for the elites, pastors or old people. Biblical Counseling is speaking the truth in love over time in community – so that others grow closer in their walk with Christ.