Stereotypes Need To GO

Today's guest blogger is Ellen Castillo of Word of Hope Ministries. Ellen has written and published a Level One Biblical Mentor training course called “Life On Life, Applying the One-Anothers of Scripture.” Ellen will be speaking at our biblical counseling conference in March, 2014.

When some people hear the title "Biblical Counseling", they conjure up all kinds of stereotypes and cases against it. In the past, many have experienced it as harsh, "beating a person over the head with a Bible", even legalistic and incomplete.  
If that's you, please consider revisiting the ministry of Biblical Counseling as a means of grace to believers and the local church. 

It's a new era in Biblical Counseling, with new leaders and authors and teachers and mentors, and I am so honored to consider these people my colleagues. Why? Because of the Gospel-rich, grace-filled, loving and competent counseling that exists under the title "Biblical Counseling" in this generation.

I once was one of those people who disregarded Biblical Counseling as a solid means to caring for hurting people. That is a part of my testimony for another post, but I was proven wrong. Don't discount Biblical Counseling based on stereotypes. Instead, embrace it because we (and I hope you) believe that God's Word is truly sufficient and that God equips His people to minister hope to one another.

2 Timothy 3:16-17: 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

I am so encouraged to see more and more churches realize that the local church should be a place of deep healing. Think about this – when someone new comes to our church, we welcome them and get them connected to the ministries available. We may even befriend them, invite them to our homes, and determine to engage in deeper relationship with them.

But then they reveal something we aren’t prepared to hear. Maybe they tell us they are having depressive symptoms and have been thinking of suicide. Maybe they divulge frequent use of pornography. Maybe they tell us that they are thinking about getting a divorce. Maybe they confess that their teenage son just told them he is a homosexual. The list could go on and on. What do we say to someone at this point? Too often, it sounds like this:

“We are glad you are at our church. We are glad you have joined our small group. We welcome you in to our home. We want to be your friend. But that serious problem you have - that thing you confessed to us - we can’t help you with that. You need to go somewhere outside the church so that a professional can help you because we do not have the means to help with those kinds of things.

OUCH, hm??!

It sounds ridiculous when put this way, but this happens every single week at local churches everywhere. When it comes to the deep struggles of life, we say that we can’t help. Essentially, we are saying that GOD can’t help. We are saying that His Word is not sufficient. Is this what we really believe? If we believed His Word to be sufficient, wouldn’t we offer to help this person instead of telling them to go elsewhere?

We have many excuses for not helping those who are hurting. We are afraid of transparency. We are afraid we won’t say the right things. We are afraid that our own sin will be exposed. We don’t feel equipped to share what God’s Word says. We are afraid that we would be responsible for another’s wellbeing. None of these are valid reasons to send people outside the body of believers for help.

If your local church hasn't tapped in to a Biblical Counseling ministry, maybe He is calling YOU to do something about it. Whether your church develops a Biblical Counseling Ministry, or instead chooses to support and utilize a nearby Parachurch Biblical Counseling Ministry, please consider how you might be called to this kind of one-another ministry.

If you need help becoming equipped, please contact Word Of Hope Ministries and we will be glad to offer you our Biblical Mentor Training or point you to training with a Biblical Counseling training organization that we support. Our desire is that you become equipped to help others by preparing you to share hope from God’s Word.

1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”

This calling to help others as the body of Christ begins with erasing the stereotypes and giving God’s Word a chance. It heals. It is HOPE. It is sufficient.

About Ellen: She is a Certified Biblical Counselor by the International Association of Biblical Counselors. She has worked as a Women’s Counselor in the context of her local church ministry, and most recently as the Founder and Director of Word Of Hope Ministries. The purpose of her ministry is to train and equip women to do one-on-one mentoring within their own local church family in the spirit of Titus 2:3-5.