A Note from the BCC Staff: You’re reading Part 2 of a BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on our recent Biblical Counseling Coalition Leadership Retreat. You can read Part 1, by Ernie Baker, here (embed link). 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, Julie Ganschow.
In December, I was among those who attended the Annual Retreat for the Biblical Counseling Coalition as members of the Council Board. It was my first time, and I thought I would share some of my experience with you.
First, you should know that many of the men in attendance have helped shape my biblical counseling philosophy through their books and teaching at conferences. I was going to be spending time with people known only to me as Doctor, Professor, and author of that great book on some biblical counseling issue! To say I was struggling with fear of man issues going into this 3-day retreat would have been an understatement.
As one of the few women in attendance, I was a minority in this group. One of the goals of the BCC is to bring more women as well as international biblical counselors onto the Council Board. The board recognizes the importance of including us in this process, as the majority of counselees are female, and we bring an important perspective to the direction of the biblical counseling movement.
I was a new face to almost everyone, but I was warmly welcomed. Because I was new, I was determined to be more of an observer than a participant, to lay low, and sit quietly throughout the three days we would spend together. Those of you who know me know how difficult a task that would be for me (and you know I failed)!
A Working Retreat
This was a working retreat, and each day after excellent devotional times led by several different men and group prayer time, either Bob Kellemen or Garrett Higbee guided the large group discussions based on the theme of the retreat. The BCC desires to minister both internally and externally, reaching out to those who differ in practice, reaching in to expand our influence among our fellow biblical counselors, and reaching up with the ultimate goal of honoring and glorifying God and magnifying the name of Jesus.
After each large group interaction, we broke into small groups for discussion of questions such as, “How are we becoming and how can we continue to be a collaborative catalyst for the biblical counseling movement?” and “How can we be missional in our relationships to those currently outside the biblical counseling movement?”
One of our desires is to develop a voice that is more compelling and winsome as we address broader themes such as mental illness, medication, or psychiatric diagnosis. There are still many who misunderstand our movement, they are uninformed about what biblical counseling is and is not. In addition to discussion of the questions, we prayed for one another, and greatly encouraged each other.
An Incredible Personal Blessing
The retreat was clearly designed for interaction, reflection, and engaging in deep, meaningful conversations, and it was there I found the greatest blessing. Several of those who attended are in the midst of life-altering trials, their pain evident on their faces. Watching men confide in each other and comfort one another, heads bowed as they came together before God was a stirring sight. I am accustomed to women doing that, and yes, we too unburdened our hearts to each other, prayed together, and gave support as we listened, hugged, and counseled one another. The atmosphere was full of caring, compassion, and hope.
As a result, any fear or insecurity I had at the beginning of the retreat quickly melted away. When I said goodbye to them at the airport, I was not bidding farewell to Doctor, Professor, or the author of that great book; I was hugging Dave, Bob, and Sue. What an incredible blessing to be a part of this group of faithful men and women.