BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the second of three posts on international biblical counseling. In addition to today’s post by Karl Hood, you can read Part 1 by Wayne Vanderwier: Culture Is Local, and you will hear from Karen Gaul in Part 3 about biblical counselling (with two Ls) in Canada.
There is a growing momentum in Australia for biblical, Christ-centred pastoral counselling, although we are moving off a relatively small base.
Some updates for 2013 include the following:
- Ed Welch is scheduled to teach a full-length graduate level course at the Presbyterian Theological Centre (PTC) in Sydney and provide the teaching for a weekend conference in August.
- Paul Tripp is booked to speak at several places in Sydney this July.
- PTC Melbourne now has all its ordination track students take at least two pastoral care courses that are taught from a biblical counselling perspective, and other practical theology courses incorporate the same orientation. Additionally, PTC Melbourne has moved to teach these courses every year rather than alternate years, as well as timetabling them in the evening to facilitate participation by a broader group of students. It has been good to continue to see wives of pastoral students audit these courses in preparation for a life of ministry.
- One of our smaller denominations has allocated its teaching sessions for its annual national meeting and conference to biblical counselling.
- Biblical counsellors from most of our states are to meet together in May to work further on a strategy for the progress of biblical counselling in Australia.
It’s encouraging to note that there are a range of people, groups, and denominations involved in these developments.
Biblical Counselling Australia
Biblical Counselling Australia is seeking to link people together and facilitate training. We are in need of more people who are available to teach – people who have both extensive counselling experience and suitable education in counselling and theology. Our most promising identified potential leaders are generally already in full-time pastoral ministries, so it is not easy for them to find time for further study, counselling, and teaching others. Please pray that the Lord would continue to raise up the right people for the tasks that are required and that he would provide the time and resources they need to be well-equipped and available for the work.
Ministry leaders who are potential leaders in biblical counselling and others continue to pursue further counselling studies. Having CCEF courses available in distance mode has been a great help here. A decade or so ago there was little choice but to study on campus in the United States over several years – very worthwhile, but with obvious challenges. This barrier to training has probably delayed the uptake of biblical counselling here, but we seem to be catching up, although we are still addressing the gap in formal academic qualifications. With the maturing of the biblical counselling movement being noticed by more people, we now have theological colleges who are keen to bring out overseas visiting lecturers to help in the meantime. Vacancies exist in the next few years!
I think it is hard to underestimate the value of having biblical counselling training routinely included in all theological education. Until then, the biblical counselling movement has to play ‘catch-up’ in influencing and equipping church leaders and having enough counsellors available to meet the demand.
The State of Biblical Counseling in Australia
In Australia, with some exceptions, the alternatives to biblical counselling currently have the advantages of incumbency in training institutions, churches, and counselling centres. One exception is PTC Melbourne, where I teach. It has now allocated about as much teaching time as it can for ordination track students – helping future ministers of the gospel with what they need to be able to provide helpful counsel in most situations and to know how to work with others whether they feel in or out of their depth.
We are also looking at extending beyond three the number of counselling courses that are available for other students, by means of a combination of locally taught courses and CCEF distance courses that are locally assessed and accredited. Within a year or so, if all goes well, we could have MA and M.Div. level programs with a biblical counselling focus.
Please pray for profitable discussions with our accrediting body. Hopefully, some other theological colleges will make similar moves before too long. Please also pray that all of our Bible-believing colleges would see the need for training in biblical counselling.
Join the Conversation
What surprises you the most about the “state” of biblical counselling in Australia?