The Worldwide Impact of Biblical Counseling: An Update on Training in My Corner of the World

May 20, 2014

The Worldwide Impact of Biblical Counseling--An Update on Training in My Corner of the World
Howard Eyrich

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Howard Eyrich

The Worldwide Impact of Biblical Counseling--An Update on Training in My Corner of the World

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the second in a multi-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on Biblical Counseling Education and Equipping. These posts will be written by leading biblical counseling equippers/educators. In today’s post, Dr. Howard Eyrich of Birmingham Theological Seminary shares about The Worldwide Impact of Biblical Counseling.

The Blue Book

“Howard, could I get another copy of the Blue Book,” said the voice when I answered the phone. That call came three years after teaching an intensive summer training program for Lay Counselors during the summer of 1985. My first thought was, “What is this person talking about?”

So I responded, “I am sorry, but I am not sure to which book you make reference. Could you help a bit, please?”

She then referenced the notebook that was distributed for that summer class. The initial elements of that notebook were developed in 1981 for a lay counseling training program at Granada Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables, Florida. Since then it has been revised, expanded, and tailored for a Birmingham Theological Seminary MA course, Counseling in the Local Church I, and a Lay Training course at our church.

Today we train about 15 folks annually who are committed to satisfying the educational requirements for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Co-mingled with these folks are another 15 to 25 who are training to be Biblical Counselor Mentors or just developing their ministry expertise as elders, deacons, or small group leaders.

Worldwide Impact

Through our programs at Birmingham Theological Seminary and Briarwood Church, we are having the opportunity to engage folks in Romania, Cuba, and Uganda. This past spring BTS presented an MA in Biblical Counseling to the first graduates in a cooperative program with Westminster Theological Seminary of Uganda. Two of the D.Min. in Biblical Counseling BTS graduates are part of the faculty that assists us with the Uganda program.

During the summer of 2013 a lawyer from Romania spent seven weeks completing an internship at the Briarwood Counseling Ministry. Two of our Lay Counselors provided private tutoring/mentorship for this individual. One of the books used in the mentorship was Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling. The internship included observation with me and several other counselors. Another component of the internship was a weekly round table that included the Lay Counseling staff (as many as could be present). During this time the intern reported the cases observed and/or co-counseled. This proved to be a favorite time for the Lay Counselor staff.

In October the Briarwood Counseling Ministry extended the teaching ministry to Iasi, Romania. I was accompanied by a Deacon and Sunday School Shepherd. Kevin taught several sessions on the utilization of Crown Ministry materials in addressing financial issues in counseling. I focused upon Marriage and Family Counseling. The Romanian audience was predominately pastors and wives. In discussions between sessions it was very evident that cultural differences in the counseling approach are minimized when the biblical framework for addressing the heart issues is applied. As a result of these training efforts, the mission agency with whom we are cooperating in Iasi wrote the following to their supports:

“This year we would like to establish a Biblical Counseling Center in Iasi with Genuta [our summer intern] as its director. Biblical Counseling is not something that is taught or practiced in this growing Romanian city. In the near future this center will train church leaders in Biblical Counseling and, also, counsel individuals and families.”

In July 2013 under the auspices of Briarwood Counseling Ministry and Birmingham Seminary I was invited by a local Baptist church to assist them in establishing a biblical counseling ministry. The pastor is a recent Ph.D. graduate of Southern Seminary. Four of their laymen just completed our two-semester training program in preparation of ACBC certification. Subsequently we were able to connect this church with Lou Priolo (also a Birmingham Theological Seminary faculty member) who is providing continuing leadership building upon our initial work.

Also in the 2013-2014 class was an elder from a city-wide leadership independent Bible church. Through his counsel this church is utilizing Birmingham Seminary programs to train and develop a lay counseling ministry.

Briarwood Presbyterian Church has a very significant influence in the Global Missions enterprise. At the invitation of Pastor Tom Cheely, Briarwood Counseling Ministry and BTS have cooperated in the development of a summer intensive training program. This program is particularly aimed at missionaries. Four out of the five courses necessary to complete the training will be presented in a month long series (one course per week). Locals will be accepted into the program if they can accommodate the schedule. The final course will be completed through the Distance Education Department of BTS.

Multiplying Ministry by Recruiting and Equipping Counselors

Recruiting is a significant source of our student body both at the Counseling Ministry and the seminary. Each August one of our elders who has been through the training and who is an active counselor gives a testimony and encourages our elders to enroll; likewise a deacon at the deaconate meeting. Our membership office collects names of interested people through the year during the interview process with new members. I write a letter to our Sunday School Shepherds to encourage them to attend.

BTS uses a variety of methods to recruit students, but we find that most enroll through one-on-one efforts of graduates. We have several new training programs on the drawing board that we hope will enable us to provide training opportunities for many more individuals.

I always remember why my focus is training. Jesus trained twelve and turned the world upside down in less than 50 years. If I counsel an hour I have helped one (maybe two). But if a hundred people I trained counsel ten hours a week then my one hour has become 1,000 or more people helped.

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