The board of the Canadian Biblical Counselling Coalition has had a few weeks to reflect on God’s manifestation of Himself during the days of our first conference.
As we planned and prepared for the conference we had some objectives in mind:
- Glorify God and promote worship of His beauty
- Promote conversation among Canadians around the topic of biblical sufficiency and the use of God’s Word for the care of souls
- Give God opportunity to speak to an area of critical importance to the church in the 21st century: sexual purity
- Share biblical counselling insights with some who have never considered how to bring the Bible to bear on the struggles of those they speak with
- Encourage and equip those whom God is already using in biblical counselling roles
With these goals in mind, we invited Michael Leister from Germany to join us as our plenary speaker. The church in Germany is in a similar place as the church in Canada with regard to biblical counselling. Like Canada, there is a growing openness to the validity of biblical counselling as an option as well as some preliminary training in biblical counselling. Michael approached the topic of sexual purity by calling us to experience our sexuality as an act of worship to God and a reflection of His character – selfless, sensitive, and sacrificial.
David Robinson, the chair of the Canadian BCC, offered practical insights into what it could look like to counsel someone burdened by sexual sin. He did so by leading us through a thoughtful consideration of how we might have counselled Samson in the wake of his surrender to sexual temptation.
This was followed up by a day of foundational biblical counselling theology, beginning with the reality that we are all counsellors. The question is not should we counsel, but rather, are we counselling with scriptural wisdom or something else?
Not only was the content precisely reflective of the hearts and passions of the CBCC board, but also the delivery of the message was equally important. The teaching was carefully wrapped within a truth that David Powlison so often communicates: “We are more like those we speak to than we are different from them.” The message was delivered with a humility that appropriately conveyed the truth that we speak to sinners from beside them because we KNOW we ARE beside them. Biblical counsel that honestly reflects Scripture is not communicated as though the speaker is above the counsellee.
Not only does this make our words more palatable, it actually communicates truth in a way that is less likely to be twisted. There is a way of speaking of sin and righteousness that can weigh down strugglers with self-condemnation and that can boost others who aren’t struggling into self-righteousness. The truth presented in a skewed manner will very likely be used by Satan for promoting either hopeless despair or Pharisaism; neither of these deviations will prove helpful to struggling sinners. Both David and Mike did an excellent job of communicating this heart of the gospel.
As far as a board was concerned, the highlights were clear and spoke directly to our vision: The conversation about God’s glorious design for our sexuality moved us to worship. We enjoyed this worship with many sisters and brothers in the Lord–including those we’ve never met.
This was a unique opportunity for Canadians. While some have pursued training in biblical counselling or have read books on biblical counselling topics, there have been few opportunities to talk to others who are also pursuing this type of ministry training. Many connections were made, and we are already hearing that those relationships are being effectively used by God for mutual edification and encouragement.
For a significant portion of our attendees, this was their first introduction to biblical counselling. More Canadians are now aware of the heart of biblical counselling; and based on their feedback, it was a positive, challenging, and thought provoking introduction.
As a board, one of our great encouragements in this endeavor was the wholehearted support of Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville. Their team made “an idea” into a reality. We couldn’t have done it without them, and doing it with them was fuel for the fire that God was already burning in us.
God was present and glorified Himself in ways that humbled us as organizers. We are looking forward with great anticipation to where He will lead us next.