BCC Megaphone Post: Counseling in Your Local Church: Understanding the Liabilities and Possibilities

December 18, 2015

Brad Hambrick

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Brad Hambrick

A Word from Your BCC Team: Frequently, we like to highlight a variety of resources or events that you need to know about. In today’s post, we are showcasing an exciting upcoming event. The original post can be found here.

We want you to know the scope of what we hope to accomplish in this workshop. Divergent expectations are a primary contributor to the dissatisfaction that sometimes exists with counseling-related resources (i.e., books, conferences, or personal counseling). We want to model the level of informed consent that should be present in a counseling ministry not only by “what” we say, but “how” we say it.

COUNSELING IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH:

Understanding the Liabilities & Possibilities of Lay Care Ministries
Date: Friday February 19, 2016
Time: 9am to 5pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek Campus
Address: 2335 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: $99 / person (lunch provided)
RSVP Here

At the end of this event you should…

… be able to identify the functional differences between counseling and discipleship
… understand the advantages and disadvantages that emerge across a spectrum from informal one-another care to formal counseling
… be able to assess your church’s, leadership’s, and communities’ readiness to launch / receive a counseling ministry
… know the kind of leadership and supervision necessary to care well for lay counseling leaders
… grasp how to structure components of lay-led counseling ministries in a way that

1. is liability safe,
2. allows for growth into a more robust counseling ministry, and
3. cooperates well with other resources in your community

This event will not attempt to…

… teach you how to re-create the counseling ministries that exist at The Summit Church (your context likely calls for something different)
… how to create a formal lay counseling ministry utilizing certified lay counselors (this can be good, but it outside the focus of this workshop)
… how to create a parachurch counseling ministry (this would require more time than a one-day conference)

Here is our intended schedule.

9:00 to 9:30
What Is Counseling? Helping Relationships from Discipleship to Counseling

Counseling and discipleship overlap significantly and, any church-based counseling ministry that serves a church well, should have a strong discipleship ministry as its long-term care outlet. Otherwise you would be creating something that was long-term unsustainable and privatized discipleship in a way that detracts from the community life of your church.

In order to determine if your church wants a formal counseling ministry and, if so, how to best develop one, there must be an agreed upon definition of “counseling.” If counseling is simply “every helping conversation” then your church already has a counseling ministry.

In this session you will receive key markers to differentiate the changes in relationship and liability that occur across the spectrum from discipleship to counseling.

9:30 to 10:30
Who Does Counseling? Competency from Friends to Professionals

What level of training is necessary to warrant calling a given interaction counseling? What liabilities and responsibilities emerge as these more formal and artificial relationships facilitated by a church? What advantages and disadvantages emerge as counseling becomes more formal?

How can the early stages of an informal, lay counseling ministry be developed in such a way that (a) it does not create undue liability for the church, and (b) allows for growth into more formal aspects, if those aspects are desirable latter?

In this session we will define five levels of counseling competence across a spectrum from informal to formal counseling that allows you to answer these kinds of questions. The remainder of this event will prepare you to maximally launch and utilize the first two levels on this spectrum.

11:00 to 11:30
Why Wouldn’t Our Church Want This?  

What are the challenges that having a formal counseling ministry presents? What are the character qualities needed in our pastors, congregation, and community in order for a counseling ministry to thrive?

What are common things a church wants from a counseling ministry that are not possible which result in a sense of disappointment about initiating this type of ministry? Conversely, what are the advantages of having a formal counseling ministry which make it “worth it” to face these challenges?

11:30 to 1:00
Lunch // Q&A About Morning Topics

1:00 to 1:50
How to build a church-based counseling ministry from the bottom up?

Based on the definitions and models being presented, how would a church (pastoral team) or individual within a church (lay initiative) begin to develop a counseling ministry?

What existing programs and resources are there and how do they fit within the framework that has been presented?

What supervisory considerations should a church provide for a lay counseling ministry even in its earliest stages of development?

2:00 to 2:50
Understanding the Interface of Different Kinds of Helping Relationships

Not all helping relationships are created equal, nor should they be; one size does not fit all. Consider the differences you experience in your relationships with a friend, pastor, doctor, mentor, coach, professor, or personal trainer. Each plays by a different set of rules and each, when those principles are followed, is good. In this session we want to help you identify how locating a given helping relationship on three spectrums can ensure you help effectively and ethically: (1) formality, (2) expertise, and (3) authority.

3:00 to 3:50
Ethical Issues in Church-Based Counseling Ministry

Counseling ethics are not just about avoiding lawsuits. Too often this is the unintentionally low bar for how churches think about counseling ethics. The purpose of counseling ethics is to ensure that we can care well for people; that is, to ensure that how we care (i.e., method) does not detract from the care we want to provide (i.e., intentions).

There two realities that will help us think more clearly about the material in this section:

  1. Ethics are not a set of abstract principles; ethics are wise decisions in difficult situations.
  2. Counseling is a concentrated collection of difficult situations where various moral-relational priorities are, or at least appear to be, at odds with one another.

4:00 to 5:00
Q&A about Afternoon Topics

COUNSELING IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH:

Understanding the Liabilities & Possibilities of Lay Care Ministries
Date: Friday February 19, 2016
Time: 9am to 5pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek Campus
Address: 2335 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: $99 / person (lunch provided)
RSVP Here

Brad Hambrick

About Brad Hambrick

Brad is Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, NC. He also serves as an adjunct professor of biblical counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Brad has been married to his wife, Sallie, since 1999.