“From Russia with Love.” So read the headline in a recent edition of our local newspaper. The subtitle was equally compelling, “Biblical counseling conference attracts 1729 people to Faith Church.” The writer went on to say that “Roman Alekseev traveled almost 5800 miles from the Russian Far East to attend the 28th annual Biblical Counseling Conference this week at Faith Church in Lafayette.”
Roman is the pastor of Transformation Baptist Church in Khabarovsk, near Siberia. He told the reporter; “I want to learn more about how to help people overcome challenges in life. I’m studying marriage counseling and learning to help people reconcile with God. I’ve learned how to help adults who were abused as children.”
You have to love it as a pastor when the headlines in the local newspaper are proclaiming that biblical counseling is alive and well in our community and even attracting a large number of people from around the world who are interested in showing love to those in their communities who are hurting. From Russia with love—exactly.
Impossible without Working Together
There is no way Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries could have pulled off a week-long biblical counseling training conference with six different tracks of training by ourselves. I distinctly remember the day several years ago when the co-founder of our counseling ministry, a medical doctor named Dr. Robert Smith, decided that to take the conference to the next level of excellence, we needed to invite speakers from other biblical counseling groups. He wanted to give our conference guests the best of the best. The Lord has blessed that effort in amazing ways, so much so that even our local paper is talking about it.
Synergy through a Variety of Instructors
What Dr. Smith was suggesting involved a willingness to admit that our training could be improved by including men and women from other biblical counseling ministries. It takes a level of maturity and trust to move in that direction. So many evangelicals seem to be bitten by the “I’m the only one” bug.
But as a result of Dr. Smith’s bold and humble vision, our guests were able to hear from people like Brad Bigney of Grace Fellowship Church in KY, Stuart Scott from Southern Seminary, Ed Welch from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, Elyse Fitzpatrick from San Diego, Jeremy Lelek from the Association of Biblical Counselors, Garrett Higbee and James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel, Kevin Carson from Baptist Bible College of MO, Bob Kellemen from Capital Bible Seminary, Jocelyn Wallace from Vision of Hope Residential Treatment Center, Mike Wilkersen from Mars Hill, and a host of staff from Faith including Mark Dutton, Amy Baker, Charles Hodge, Rob Green, Brent Aucoin, Dan Wickert, Joe Blake, Andy Woodall, and Trey Garner. The teaching was diverse and rich because of the tremendous variety of presenters.
Synergy through a Variety of Guests
The Biblical Counseling Training Conference attracted people from forty-five different states and nine foreign countries. The conversations at breaks and meals provided tremendous opportunities to learn what the Lord was doing in the lives and ministries of each attendee. It was a marvelous picture of the body of Christ learning from one another. Assembling that many people who deeply love God, one another, and their counselees provides an atmosphere that is almost electric in terms of investigating the best ways to serve the Lord together.
Synergy through a Variety of Approaches
The presenters were not clones of one another—nor were the guests. There were all sorts of ideas floating around about various ways to serve those who are hurting with the life-giving truth of the gospel. There wasn’t universal agreement or a one-size fits all approach. Each attendee will have to go back home and be a Berean (Acts 17) and “search the Scriptures daily to see whether those things are so.” But everyone’s willingness to honestly consider what the Lord had been teaching others resulted in a rich learning environment.
A Picture of the BCC
The synergy created at the Biblical Counseling Training Conference is an illustration of the core values of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. We believe that together we can accomplish more. The “we’re the only ones” approach to counseling and ministry is so yesterday. Those who succeed in biblical counseling in the days ahead are going to do so… together. Three cheers for synergy.
Join the Conversation
How are you breaking down barriers and building bridges with other Evangelicals so that together you can do more?