Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit

December 29, 2014

Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit
Ernie Baker

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Ernie Baker

Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit

A Note from the BCC Staff: You’re reading Part 1 of a BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on our recent Biblical Counseling Coalition Leadership Retreat. Each year, our entire BCC Board of Directors and Council Board convene for three days of mutual iron-sharpening. Our theme this year focused on building mutually respectful relationships within the biblical counseling movement and building missionally robust relationships outside the biblical counseling movement. Today’s post provides reflections on the retreat from BCC Council Board member, Ernie Baker.

Reflections on the BCC’s 2014 Leadership Retreat

All too often we hear of disheartening disunity in the Church. As one who does marriage counseling and consults on church conflicts, this is often the story of my life (or at least my inbox!).

A refreshing difference, which ministered to the depths of my soul, was the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s annual leadership retreat. You would think that if you put 50 leaders from various Evangelical schools, ministries, and theological perspectives into the same room, that it would be ripe for disunity, or at a very minimum, some tension. I rejoice in the Lord to report that this was not the case. In fact, it was the opposite.

So what made the difference? It’s easy to understand actually. Our group has a very high view of Scripture that takes its principles seriously among which are the one another commands. When you combine this with a robust view of the power of the gospel to change lives and love for the Lord it can result in respectful but in-depth dialogue. Being unified around a common set of beliefs, as expressed in our doctrinal statement, and beliefs about biblical counseling, as expressed in our confessional statement, gives us a breadth of commonality that make respectful and in-depth communication possible.

Even though we represented Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, Reformed Baptists, and Non-Denominational churches, as well as numerous schools, our focus was on the larger cause which is central to our movement: the sufficiency of Scripture to address personal problems. The depth that the gospel has to address issues, and the living principles of Scripture that radically change lives, are the glue that hold this diverse group together.

Respectful but In-depth Dialogue

Our conversations were not fluffy. We discussed not only what has led to disunity in the past, but also how to dialogue on our differences in the present. We also dialogued how to discuss biblical truth with those who do not agree with biblical counseling.

Camaraderie in the Lord

Our small group times of prayer were particularly meaningful. We not only had great discussion, revolving around the themes of the retreat, but also “bore one another’s burdens.” The question of, “Who ministers to the pastors and other leaders?” was answered—other pastors and leaders. Often it is not safe for leaders to share their concerns; here it was. We prayed about family issues, personal issues, ministry issues, and spoke encouragement according to the need of the moment (Ephesians 4:29).

Deep Theological Discussion

Another highlight of the retreat, and maybe the most important to me, was the in-depth theological discussion I had with other colleagues. We had a delightful dialogue on the role of the affections in the inner person in the change process. In fact, it was one of the best theological discussions I have ever had. There was give and take, and even respectful pushback. The discussion spilled over after the retreat for almost 2 hours on the bus trip back to the airport.

So, have hope! It is possible for the church to love one another and to even discuss serious topics as long as you believe and practice the principles of Scripture. After all, we are the Biblical Counseling Coalition!

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