Church Planting and Biblical Counseling: Building a Bridge

October 18, 2011

Church Planting and Biblical Counseling - Building a Bridge

Two major Christian movements emerged in the 1970s: the modern church planting movement and the modern biblical counseling movement. The North American Church Planting Foundation (NACPF) is working to build bridges between these two movements.


The NACPF is a non-profit organization that exists to support and promote church planting efforts in North America. Among a handful of other ministry priorities, we emphasize the importance of biblical care and counseling within each church plant. It is our hope that a biblical counseling mindset will become the norm within the world-wide church planting community.

Throughout the landscape of established churches, as well as new church starts, biblical counseling theory and practice is less common than we would like. The churches that are born out of the current church planting movement represent, at least in part, the future of counseling in the local church. We believe an infusion of biblical counseling philosophy and practice into the DNA of new church starts is an essential key to the furtherance of the biblical counseling revolution and the continuance of effective soul care by local churches.


Initiated in 2009 by Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, The North American Church Planting Foundation is a network of like-minded churches, church planters, and sponsors that advocate three core values: Gospel, Community, and Mission. The NACPF establishes a culture of soul care among church plants by emphasizing the role of biblical counseling within each core value.

Gospel: Through the NACPF, we are working to fulfill the Great Commission by upholding and celebrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the NACPF, we are committed to proclaiming the hope of the Gospel and the surpassing riches of God’s grace toward us in Christ. In fact, the grace of God and the power of the gospel are both inextricably linked to our appreciation of biblical counseling. The churches within our church planting network are equipped and motivated to change through an insightful study of the Scriptures, personal ministry to one another, and through a caring culture of biblical community.

Community: By God’s perfect design, all Christians need community. We believe the New Testament model for local churches (plants) is one of cooperating, sharing, and growing together. This “one-another” quality within the Christian faith can only exist in a gospel-centered community. As a result, the NACPF is planting churches that are not merely places where people share burdens and fellowship about life. Rather, they do so with a unique perspective as they intentionally build each other up in Christ. This is the essence of a Gospel community, committed to grow as a community knit together by love through the mutual ministry of the word. Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, it is our desire to display the sufficiency of the Scriptures through the ministry of every church plant.

Relying on the Bible as our central resource for lasting change and restoration, we have gone to great lengths to shepherd and train future church planters in practical and godly biblical counseling ministry. NACPF church planters progress through an internship process by which they are equipped and mentored to counsel biblically in a local church context. Church planters are asked to complete biblical counseling criteria including, How People Change, Helping Others Change, Instruments in a Redeemer’s Hands, and other practical biblical counseling equipping tools. Even after the church is planted, the planting team has an on-going relationship with their sending church for further training and coaching. In terms of biblical counseling, we owe much to the instruction of Dr. Robert Jones, Director of Biblical Counseling at Open Door Baptist Church.

Mission: No conception of the Gospel is complete without an understanding of its outward momentum. Our God is a missional God. Churches within the NACPF intentionally structure their ministries and services to welcome those who have not heard or embraced the good news.

We believe that Jesus’ Great Commission is not merely intended to make converts, but to so magnify the glory of God that His name is known throughout the world. We take seriously God’s command to make disciples who know, love, and grow in Christ. Here is yet another connection to biblical counseling which must not be overlooked: the mandate to minister the good news to believers and unbelievers alike. In this respect, we seek to plant church-planting churches who will grow to the point that they are ready to plant self-sustained, theologically healthy, gospel-centered communities who also fueled by a sincere commitment to the Great Commission.

The NACPF is grateful to like-minded organizations such as CCEF, NANC, and the Biblical Counseling Coalition for their magnificent efforts to equip pastors and laity for biblical counseling ministry. We hope that together we can plant churches that glorify God and build up the body through the cure of souls. Learn more at

Join the Conversation

What are the benefits of planting a church with the DNA of biblical counseling embedded in the fabric and foundation of the church plant?

10 thoughts on “Church Planting and Biblical Counseling: Building a Bridge

  1. Pingback: Church Planting and Biblical Counseling: Building a Bridge | Biblical … | Gospel Feeds

  2. As Executive Director of the BCC, I am very excited about this post and about building bridges between church planting and biblical counseling. The best way to lead a church toward being a church of biblical counseling where one another ministry of speaking the truth in love saturates everything, is to plant the church with that vision. I encourage you to learn more about the NACPF at:

  3. Much thanks to the BCC for posting this blog. I have been committed to biblical counseling many years before founding the NACPF. A marriage between church planting and biblically counseling is an excellent way to minister the gospel to the community from day one of a new work. All of our church plants are committed to this and I’m looking forward to see where this partnership leads us. 
    Dwayne Milioni, PhD.
    Lead pastor, Open Door, Raleigh, NC

  4. I was almost shocked to see this post. This has been our church plants vision from day one, a little over 3 years ago. I had just finished readying a series of posts by my pastor on church planting from the blog,, when I came to this page. I am very excited to see the desire for the connection of new church plants and biblical counseling. We are constantly trying to foster a culture of counseling in our church, and desire to one day plant other churches with the same focus. Thanks again for this post.

  5. Matt, That’s exciting. I hope you, and Dwayne, and Rush can connect. I love helping churches, especially church plants, develop and embed a biblical counseling vision in the church. If I can be of any help, just let me know. Also, would love to see the series of posts you mention. Bob

  6. Bob,

    Here is the link to the first of the series on church planting. The other two posts will be coming out this week.

    I would love to talk with you more some time. I briefly talked with you at the NANC conference a few weeks back about how this idea of developing and fostering a culture of counseling in the church is what I am writing my thesis on. It would be good to bounce ideas off someone who has been doing this longer than I have.

  7. This is great to see such a topic. We are right in the middle of this very thing. Our counseling center was started in another church where I pastored for over 26 years. When that church closed down, we were led by God to begin a new church plant with the SBC (Founders friendly) and brought our counseling center with us. This has been a huge blessing in establishing our church in 2 ways: 1. Through our training (we are one of 44 NANC Certified Training Centers), we have been able to equip the members in solid biblical outreach with the gospel and 2. The counseling center itself has been an outreach to our community as we provide a faith-based service to those in our area.
    Our only concern has been financial support. We have yet to find any church willing to partner with us for this “missionary” work in northern California. But I am thoroughly convinced that church plant and biblical counseling belong together. So much of the church plant movement is light weight and strives to be “contextual” (whatever that means), felt needs oriented, and loses sight of the message of the gospel. Biblical counseling, I believe, ensures that a church plant is grounded in the gospel.

  8. As one who wears many hats related Rush’s post — his friend and DMin BC prof at Southeastern Seminary (SEBTS), a BCC Council member, and an Elder and Director of BC Training at Open Door w/ my lead pastor Dwayne Milioni– I am thrilled to see Rush’s vision and the team he is assembling. Since Jesus regularly met people when they raised a question or evidenced some personal need, I can think of no wiser strategy to reach people in our psychologized and relationally-disordered culture than BC. Let’s pray that churches, pastors, planters, and mission sending agencies see the powerful impact that a BC focus can have in church planting nationally and internationally. 

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