Building the Church Together: The Biblical Counseling Coalition 2013 Leadership Retreat

January 14, 2014

BCC 2013 Leadership Retreat Series
Betty-Anne Van Rees

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Betty-Anne Van Rees

BCC 2013 Leadership Retreat Series

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Two of a four-part Grace & Truth mini-series about the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s 2013 Leadership Retreat. Many have said that they wish they could be a “fly on the wall” just to listen in on the conversation between four dozen biblical counseling leaders. This four-part series is one attempt to invite you in and give you a glimpse of our time together. You can read Part One by Mark Shaw: Literally Life-Changing: The Biblical Counseling Coalition 2013 Leadership Retreat.


As the lone non-American in attendance and one of the newcomers, I headed to the Biblical Counseling Coalition’ annual Leadership Retreat feeling a bit like the proverbial fly on the wall except mostly people just dream about being that fly. I was actually getting the opportunity. I am a relative newcomer to the BC world and have just a handful of fellow Canadians with whom I can network.

In the days leading up to the retreat I wondered why I was going. From my position, I didn’t feel I had anything to contribute. Within hours of being there I knew that at least one of the reasons God had ordained for me to be there was I needed a retreat. God was graciously giving me opportunity to step away from responsibility to draw near to Him in quietness. The beautiful natural setting of the Winshape Retreat Centre declares God’s glory effortlessly as do the servant-hearted, service-oriented staff.

I find the daily demands of ministry leave me feeling somewhat buried. The BCC Leadership Retreat was like coming up for air. In my context, there are not a lot of people talking or thinking about biblical sufficiency. I’m swimming up stream. But by God’s grace, I swim.

He has convicted me of His sufficiency and envisions, enables, and empowers me as I lay my life down. I see Him breathe life into souls that are weary and troubled and I worship Him as I watch Him work. But in all honesty it is, at times, easy for discouragement to grow. There are so many needs, and I often feel inadequate for those needs.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

The retreat gave opportunity for God to let me see the bigger picture. Others have faced the kind of struggles I face in contexts like mine, but God has moved and their context has changed. Today they are in churches where God’s people are learning to build a body of Christ—followers who hunger for more sanctified living and are learning to help each other move in that direction.

Though the methods to move in this direction were somewhat different in each setting (it was a relief to know we are not looking for the one elusive plan for church development), they seemed to share similar foundational elements:

  • Grow a purer vision of the greatness of God and promote love for Him that fuels surrendered lives.
  • Get in each other’s lives—intimately.
  • As leaders, be vulnerable in your own struggles with sanctification. Create an atmosphere that promotes vulnerability among the church family.
  • Look outward to those who need to know the greatness of God so they can love Him, too.

It was a refreshing, renewing vision of God’s glory in the lives of His people.


Finally, the fact that we were there—that God, in His glorious power and purposes, would bring that group of His people together in one place to encourage and empower each other was well … encouraging.

We have differences. We don’t see everything about God’s kingdom work the same as each other. However, we DO belong to the same Family; we DO love the one true God; and we DO hunger to see His people transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

It is a ‘coming together’ that would not be possible apart from the transforming work of Jesus in our own hearts and lives.

For me, perhaps the most powerful encouragement in the whole thing was knowing that busy servants of the Most High God gave up precious time and resources at the busiest time of the year to be together for the sake of God’s glory; to build the Church instead of tear it down.

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How can we advance the vision of biblical sufficiency and progressive sanctification in our churches?