The BCC Weekend Interview Series: University Reformed Church

October 8, 2011


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Weekend Interview

As part of our BCC vision, we want to point you to the best of the best in robust, relational biblical counseling. Each week we’re posting (and then making available as an ongoing resource) interviews with churches, para-church groups, educational institutions, and individuals committed to biblical counseling.

University Reformed Church

Pat QuinnThis week we highlight the ministry of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI. To learn more about their biblical counseling ministry, we interviewed Pat Quinn, Director of Counseling Ministries.

BCC: “Pat, please tell our readers about the mission and vision of the biblical counseling ministry at URC.”

URC: “Our vision is to create a culture of biblically informed, wise, compassionate, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered discipling/counseling/one-anothering at University Reformed Church through:

  • Counseling individuals, couples, and families,
  • Training elders, growth group leaders, and counselors, and
  • Introducing congregants to a biblical model for discipling and counseling through New Members classes, teaching, and preaching, etc.”

BCC: “What is the history of your biblical counseling ministry? Tell us your story.”

URC: “I became a Christian in 1972 and soon began to minister the Word of God in various ‘venues:’ music/worship ministry, teaching Bible for 30 years at a Christian school, serving as a teacher and elder at URC, discipling and counseling. I was initially introduced to biblical counseling through the ministry of David Powlison—especially his book Seeing With New Eyes.  This had a big effect on my own life and I began doing more counseling at the Christian school and at church in the mid 2000’s. In 2009, I began working part-time at URC as Director of Counseling and came on full-time this September. After devouring just about all the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation resources for a few years, I began taking distance education courses from CCEF in 2008. I have my Introduction to Biblical Counseling certificate from them and have audited two more courses. Although I feel I am still a novice, I have seen the Lord work in both counseling and training and am excited to continue to learn and grow in this vital gospel work.”

BCC: “How does URC pursue being a church of biblical counseling where sufficiency of Scripture, progressive sanctification, one-another ministry, etc. saturate your congregation?”

URC: “When I came on staff at URC, I wanted to have a comprehensive plan for this very thing. I decided my two main responsibilities would be to counsel and train counselors. I have done this since 2009. Since the two pastors at URC (Kevin DeYoung and Ben Falconer) are committed to a biblical counseling model, I have also had opportunities to teach biblical counseling in New Members classes, URC Shepherd Training classes (for elders and growth group leaders), a Leadership class (for future church officers and growth group leaders), speaking to students through our campus ministry in various venues, teaching Sunday school, and occasional preaching. Obviously I also have informal opportunities to talk to people in the church about biblical counseling.”

BCC: “How does URC pursue being a church with biblical counseling where you further equip those who sense a special calling and commitment to formal biblical counseling training/ministry?”

URC: “I began training about six people two years ago. Of those six, three are still with me. This ‘advanced’ class will continue this year with the addition of four more people—a campus staff person and three people from outside our church who are interested in biblical counseling. In addition, we offer an “Introduction to Biblical Counseling” Sunday School class and I will be teaching a methods class this year as well. So this year we are essentially offering three biblical counseling training classes: intro, methods, and advanced.”

BCC: “What is your succinct definition of biblical counseling?”

URC: “Biblical counseling is face-to-face conversational ministry of the Word in which we minister the grace and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to specific people and issues leading to the life transformation of ‘faith working through love’ to the glory of God. Biblical counseling is a combination (in the right balance for each counselee) of parakaleo (comfort/encouragement) and noutheteo (admonishment/warning).”

BCC: “How has your biblical counseling ministry impacted your church and community?”

URC: “I have had the privilege to counsel a number of individuals and couples at URC. While I am aware of my own weaknesses, have much to learn and grow in, and have not loved as wisely or as well as I would like, I believe most of these people have been helped not only with the specific issues they were dealing with but also in their relationship with Jesus Christ and in living a more gospel-centered life. Staff and congregation at URC seem supportive and grateful for this free gospel-centered ministry of the church. I never advertise, but there is never a lack of people seeking counseling. As far as impact outside the church, this is just beginning. I am grateful for a few contacts with people from other churches with whom I want to form supportive and networking relationships. A dream for down the road would be to offer free Christ-centered counseling to the Lansing area.”

BCC: “What counsel would you give churches just starting to think about launching a biblical counseling equipping ministry in their church?”

URC: “Wow, I’m such a newcomer to this, but here are a few thoughts:

  • Make sure the church staff is supportive/leading in this. All ministry in the church needs to be coming from the same biblically-informed, Cross-centered, gospel-saturated, Spirit-empowered, sanctification-oriented mindset. It is a joy to be able to refer to something the pastor just preached or to bring in other biblically-minded resources (diaconate, individuals, etc.) to assist with the counseling. There must be a common biblical model of how God changes people.
  • Begin by learning and applying biblical counseling to yourselves. As you see God bringing more gospel-centered growth in faith, hope, and love into your own lives, you will be excited and confident to see God work this way in others’ lives. Be a lifetime apprentice/disciple of Jesus.
  • Make it your goal to counsel and train together. Do both; set up times for counselor trainees to counsel one another; invite them to observe you counseling others (I will do this with the advanced class this year); offer to help trainees counsel others for a few sessions and then let them take it over.
  • Don’t be afraid to start small. You may begin by studying biblical counseling with a few others. Pray for God to change you and help you be instruments of change in others’ lives. Seek to meet with and help one or two people and try to be a ‘disciple-making disciple’ (or ‘counselor-making counselor!’). People who benefit from biblical counseling often want to pass on the blessing and are interested in getting more training.”

BCC: “Tell us about any resources or seminars/conferences that you offer.”

URC: “The training materials I have used are about 90% from CCEF authors and other published biblical counselors (Elyse Fitzpatrick, Mike Wilkerson). I have been writing my own counselee homework assignments for some years and have also written some supplementary training materials (Biblical Counseling Affirmations, Essential Counselor Qualities, A Biblical Theology of Suffering, etc.), but none of these are on-line at this time. Perhaps in the future.”

BCC: “How can people be praying for your biblical counseling ministry?”

URC: “Pray that the Lord’s grace would be sufficient and His power made perfect in my weakness. Pray that the power of the Holy Spirit produces overcoming faith, hope, and love in me that is glorifying to God and beneficial to others. Pray that I would decrease and Christ would increase and that I would be free and full, strong and happy in Him. Pray for wisdom and power as I counsel, teach, and train others. I often pray for the spiritual graces and gifts of compassion, wisdom, faith, and prophecy (the ability to speak a timely and powerful word to a specific person in a specific situation). Pray that the Lord blesses this ministry to the folks at URC and beyond—for His glory.”

BCC: “How can people connect with and contact you?”

URC: “They can reach us through: Pat Quinn—Director of Counseling Ministries; University Reformed Church—4930 S. Hagadorn Rd. East Lansing, MI 48823;; [email protected]; 517 351-6810, ext.19.”

BCC: “Pat, thank you for sharing your vision and heart for biblical counseling in the local church.”

URC: “Thank you for this opportunity. I am humbled and grateful.”