From December 6-8 over 50 leaders in biblical counseling met together for the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s Leadership Retreat. It is a time when the Board of Directors and the Counsel Board come together for encouragement and sharpening. The theme of the retreat was, “From Shared Convictions to Creative Expression.” This was an excellent theme for a retreat that brings together very different people and personalities who care for diverse communities. Diversity, like unity, is something that cannot be ignored. We need them both.
Over the course of a few days the leadership explored the many ways we can bring gospel hope to hurting people. Jeremy Pierre discussed how creativity plays a part in our ministry by unpacking the way the Lord can use the imagination, as it is shaped by the Scriptures, to inspire the affirming hope that we are made for something better than our present experiences.
Steve Midgley brought practical wisdom on the place of thoughtful prayer in our counseling sessions. He encouraged us to allow times of prayer to be more “blurred” with other elements of our counseling sessions. Rather than having bookend prayers at the beginning and end of each session we should instead seek to integrate prayer throughout our session and especially be praying for our counselees outside of the session.
Jonathan Holmes shared an intriguing look at how to be culturally informed and biblically balanced as we interact with our counselees. He reminded us of the importance of understanding the culture from which counselees come in order to understand counselees better and to have more points of contact with them.
Finally David Powlison wrapped us up taking a look at how we bring light in small ways to people. Even though the light we share may be a dim flicker of a 3-watt light bulb, it gives people hope and generates curiosity about the greater light found in knowing the source of all Light.
However, it all started with a devotional by John Henderson. John set the course for us to explore the diverse ways we can love people while we navigate the many turbulent waters of life with them. Our counseling may happen in a coffee shop, a church office, a living room, or a more formal counseling setting, but one thing unites all of what we do. Grounded in Scripture we seek to bring people to the same hope. John shared how God uses “many ways” to speak to the hearts of his people. He uses “many ways” to bring truth and change lives. No two moments are exactly the same, but we seek to use what fits the occasion with methods rooted in Scripture. It is important to remember that “Best Practices” are indeed plural and diverse. Our counseling not only takes place in diverse settings with diverse people, but those giving the counsel are also uniquely diverse. We are not cookie-cutter counselors. We stand united on core convictions but there are many patterns, shapes, and expressions. John wisely provoked us to move out from our unity to diversity. Rooted in our shared understanding of gospel ministry but excited about the many possibilities.
I believe that this is the core of why the Biblical Counseling Coalition exists. Many counselors, ministry leaders, organizations, churches, etc., can unite on core convictions and be encouraged to see how God is pleased to express those convictions in “many ways.”
I am excited to see what the Lord will do through the Biblical Counseling Coalition. I hope that many more will see the value in uniting together holding tightly to our shared hope and looking forward to seeing the diverse ways the Lord expresses it through us.