Maybe you have seen some construction happening in the old library? Our academic library has moved upstairs near the seminary classroom. Other books and resources have been relocated to the coffee connection room. And the old library space will now house the Faith Biblical Counseling Center.
I would love to explain. By God’s grace, and through the legacy of faithful men like Earl Dannen and Fred Williams (and many others), God has graciously positioned us to serve our church, community, and the entire Inland Northwest through the Faith Biblical Counseling Center. The ministry that goes by that name is a certified training center of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC; learn more at biblicalcounseling.com).
We currently have 14 FBC members who are ACBC certified, another who is very near completion of the process, and 11 more who have completed the training and are actively writing their exams and fulfilling the requirements to enter the supervisory stage of the certification process. That means we anticipate having 25-30 counselors serving our church and community by the end of 2020!
Until now, we have had only one room dedicated for counseling use (the room right next to the coffee cart). Our counselors, almost all of whom are volunteer, bounce around from conference rooms and pastor’s offices, sharing space and juggling schedules. The new counseling center will have four rooms dedicated specifically for counseling, a warmly decorated reception area, and a more private entrance. By God’s grace our scheduling nightmares will be over and the ministry will have warmer and more professional space.
As the ministry grew, our team of counselors developed a Mission Statement:
The Faith Biblical Counseling Center exists to offer hope in crisis situations and specific life issues by leading people to know, worship, and follow Jesus Christ by teaching and applying biblical truth, and to train others to do the same in their own local churches—all for the glory of God.
The elements of this mission statement remind us how we are specifically fulfilling the Great Commission, which is really the mission of the church. While much of our focus is on crisis situations and specific life issues, the real goal is shepherding souls in a personal discipling relationship toward a deeper knowledge and faithful pursuit of Christ. We are on the frontlines with those who are battling sin, the flesh, their own hearts, and all the effects of living in a sin-cursed world.
In addition to the actual counseling, we are also a certified training center. That is why part of our mission statement is “to train others to do the same in their own local churches.” We teach counseling courses, assist people in the certification process (through classes and personal oversight), and use our relationship with ACBC to spread the biblical philosophy of spiritual care that sees the Bible as the sufficient and only necessary means of defining the methods and content of the counseling task.
Hundreds of FBC members, and many more from the community, have taken our training over the years—referred to as the Biblical Shepherding class. We are thrilled to see the interest and commitment to biblical counseling growing in Spokane and beyond.
We know that our community is hurting from the effects of sin. Though we have a large and gifted crew of counselors, we have an even longer list of people waiting for counseling. It is always sad to have to tell someone that no one is available to help them right away. That sad reality is a call for you to pray, and perhaps a call for you to consider getting involved. I can assure you that there are few things in life more satisfying than being involved personally in someone’s life and watching God transform them by His Word through His Spirit.
Our commitment to the local church means we make our own members a priority. Any FBC member is cared for on an immediate basis when possible. Thankfully, the large numbers of people who have been instructed and mentored to shepherd souls at FBC ensures that the vast majority of the spiritual questions, burdens, and help needed actually takes place in the context of the regular ministries of FBC. Your growth group shepherds are committed to providing the first line of spiritual care for you, and it has been a privilege to provide them the same kind of instruction in heart-level, biblical soul-care, that we provide in the counseling ministry. When needed, however, the counselors are always available to provide another layer of help, instruction, and spiritual care for FBC members.
Last spring we also had our first Transform Biblical Counseling Conference (transformconference.org). We invited Alasdair Groves from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation of New England to teach us “What Does the Bible Say About Emotions.” It was a great time of instruction, and our own certified counselors, along with other area pastors and counselors also contributed with breakout sessions on various topics. There were over 330 in attendance, inspiring us to make this an annual event.
Mark your calendars for November 2-3, 2018 for our second annual Transform Biblical Counseling Conference. Our hope is to learn together what the Bible says about conflict resolution and conciliation. Details are still being worked out, so stay tuned.
Over the next few years—as part of the churchwide initiatives—our goal is to expand both the counseling and the training aspects of the ministry. Our desire is to continue developing more advanced training on other topics, establish standards for a specialized certification in marriage counseling and Christian conciliation, begin offering our training “on-the-road” as a means of helping other churches establish and grow their own biblical counseling ministries, and move toward providing help for substance abusers and addicts.
Please pray for our entire team as we prayerfully pursue fulfilling those initiatives with the aim of seeing souls helped and strengthened in and through their spiritual struggles all for the glory of God.