A pastor friend of mine said something at a conference that I just cannot let go. It sticks with me and almost haunts me. It has become a new way of thinking for me. This quote has also changed how I engage certain aspects of ministry. It is convicting, challenging, provoking and true.
- Share the gospel online
- Encourage, inspire, edify
- See who the sermon challenged because they tweet about it
- Read how God is changing the lives of people
- Link to the blog you just wrote so that your people can see what you have to say to them
- Post your sermon audio or video onto your Facebook page so that your people can experience it again
- See how you can be praying for your people
- Invite somebody to church
- Invite somebody to coffee or lunch
- Do an online Bible study
The opportunities to engage your people are numerous. Do not let them slip by.
God has led me to enter a new chapter in my life. Officially, I now have a new job in addition to being a pastor. The reason I am writing this is to let you know that at one time, I was against being bi-vocational…and I was wrong.
- Being bi-vocational is temporary because it takes time for a church to grow. It takes time to disciple believers and train them to make disciples. It takes time to train men who God has called to be pastors so that they can go out and plant other churches.
- Being bi-vocational brings in some extra income so that you can pay off bills, take a vacation, buy a new car or an air conditioner, pay off student loans or maybe just rebuild your savings account.
- Most pastors are bi-vocational. Most pastors do something in addition to being a pastor. For instance, there are pastors who are bloggers, consultants, evangelists, conference speakers, and authors.
- Making Disciples > We are commanded by Christ to make disciples. Jesus gives us the Great Commission in Matthew 28. Luke writes in Acts 1:8 that Jesus gives a more explicit command to be his witnesses wherever your foot touches the ground. The church has to be about the business of making disciples. If the church fails to make disciples, it is ineffective at what it has been called to do. Ministries and programs are great. However, if the church fails to make disciples – disciples not converts – it has failed its main mission. We are not called to make converts only. Converts can get saved and then left at the altar. Some people act like they believe that upon salvation the Holy Spirit just magically empowers you with all of the things you need to live the Christian life. That does not happen and that belief is not biblical. It takes mature believers to come alongside the new Christian and show them how to live the Christian life. Mature believers guide the new Christian showing them how the gospel is not just for salvation but is very much needed for sanctification. The gospel is needed in every area of our lives. For the church to be healthy, grow and flourish, we believe that making disciples is of utmost importance.
- Training Men > In our society today, there are a lot of boys and few men. There is a lack of men leading in our culture today. Just because you have a beard, can drink a beer, have sex, and watch football does not make you a man. Real men love their wives. Real men love their children. Real men love Jesus. Boyhood was never meant to last into the age of the twenties and thirties. It is time for the church to help boys become biblical men. Men need to be as Darrin Patrick puts it, both tough and tender. Jesus is our ultimate model for what a man is supposed to be. We desire to help push men to conform to the image of Jesus.
- Planting Churches > We desire to be a church that plants churches. Why? We believe that every successful ministry begins in the local church. We want to plant churches in cities, states, and countries where they can reach many lost people for Jesus. We want to plant churches that will come alongside their people and disciple them. We want to plant churches that will lead and teach their people how to read the Bible, what spiritual disciplines are, how to serve others, and look like the church in Acts. We take the Bible seriously and we believe that the church in Acts is the ultimate example of what Christ intended the church to be. We understand that there is no perfect church but that will not stop us from striving to accomplish everything that God has given us to accomplish.
- Developing Pastors > It is the church’s job to come alongside men that God has called into pastoral ministry. Preaching and shepherding are taken very seriously in the Bible and FaithPoint takes these things seriously as well. We believe that the preached word is the main thing. It is of utmost importance. We will not change our view on this and we do not apologize for having this high view of both Scripture and the preached word. We do not believe seminary is bad or wrong. However, we believe that if God has called a man into pastoral ministry and he goes to seminary, then the church should help him through seminary by helping him put into practice (real life situations) what he is learning. The church should also pray for him and not just men in pastoral ministry but all men in the church. While seminary is good, we also believe that it is very expensive. We see nothing wrong with a man buying books from Amazon and reading and studying them as long as they are church approved and do not contradict the Bible in any way. Isn’t that what happened before there were seminaries?
- Sending Missionaries > We believe that every regenerated person is a missionary. We do not believe that the Great Commission is for “special” called people to go over seas into other countries and share the gospel alone. We believe it is a both/and. The Great Commission is for every disciple of Christ. It is for those that are home as well as abroad. If God wakes you up in the morning, you are a missionary. If the Holy Spirit leads and guides and lives in you, you are a missionary. Disciple: You go to church to be equipped for the work of the ministry. When you walk out the door, you are a missionary. Being a missionary is one of the ordained works God has given you before the foundation of the world. He predestined you for the mission of sharing the gospel, talking about Jesus and his church. We believe that every disciple is a missionary. You are either a good one or a bad one. In other words, you are either obedient or disobedient. We want to help you become obedient, passionate, devoted disciples of Christ.
Ministry is impossible to do when you are running on empty. If your cup is empty, you are not of much use to anyone. Ministry happens when your cup is filled to overflowing. As you get filled up, you pour out and then go get filled up again.
- Cultivate relationships with the sheep
- Love the sheep in the same way that Christ loves you
- Pray for your sheep
- Work hard both for your family and for the sheep
- Remember that it is not about you, it is all about Jesus
The need for Christian counseling in the local church is a great need.
Jesus calls people sheep. Sheep are not the smartest of animals. They need care, protection, guidance, and love. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Jesus was talking about taking care of people in this passage. I believe this also includes counseling people. Just because people go to church does not mean that they do not have issues and baggage. People are broken and they go to church for help. The local church needs a counseling ministry that helps heal the hurts of broken people. Biblical advice should always be given regardless of whether or not the recipient of the advice chooses to listen and apply what they have heard.
I sat down with the pastor of a local church and asked him about the church’s current counseling ministry. The pastor said that the church does not currently have a counseling ministry. The only counseling that happens at that church is done when a person is interested in salvation or preparing to get married. In other words, this local church does not have a counseling ministry. How many people could live the abundant life Jesus talks about rather than just dream about it if they had true biblical counseling? How many marriages look together on the surface but at home they are crumbling and falling apart?
Dr. Gary J. Oliver in his book Trust Builders says this, “Difficult and draining times can produce significant stress on a marriage. When times are tough it becomes easier to be negative and critical. When things go wrong it becomes much easier to justify and rationalize your own behavior and to blame the problems on someone else. Often that “someone else” is your spouse. Stress and pressure bring existing weaknesses to the surface and can make them appear larger than life.”
Relationship issues and communication conflicts arise because people enter into a marriage with selfish motivations.
Biblical counseling is a raft for people caught in a river of emotion and turmoil. However, people must know that such a ministry exists or they will seek help elsewhere, if they seek help at all. If such a ministry does not exist in a local church, people, like sheep, will wander astray. They will seek to solve their problems without even thinking about consulting scripture. People need to know that they can go to the church for help.
The local church is a community of believers. These people are bound by the blood of Jesus Christ. There should be an essence of unity and faith that make these believers seem more like a healthy family rather than friends. Trust should resonate high within the church or a counseling ministry has no hope. A person must know that when they confide in their counselor that what they say is kept with the strictest of confidence.
Whether the counselor is a pastor or lay-person, they will not be trusted if they are found to be a gossip. People do not want their business discussed with others or talked about on blogs or Facebook. The person needs to know that what they say will be kept private between them and the counselor. People have a variety of problems such as alcoholism, pornography, drug addiction, infidelity, unemployment, death of a child, eating disorders, and bankruptcy to name a few. This is serious business. A counseling ministry within the local church has the opportunity to give sound biblical advice while at the same time helping people conform more to the image of Jesus Christ.
Standards must also be kept during a counseling session.
The counselor needs to be trusted.
The counselor should also be a good listener. The counselor should start and end each session with prayer. The counselor should not be afraid to say that they do not know the answer. The counselor is not perfect and will never have all the answers. The counselor also needs to set limitations on counseling the opposite sex. If a counselor is male and a woman comes in alone for counseling, he must be on his guard at all times. This is critical. A man also needs to limit on how much information he allows a woman to give him. It is okay for a man to know that a woman has martial problems, but he does not need her to divulge the intimacies behind her problems. Some men would feed off of this and lust for more like pornography. When possible it is best that a man counsels a man and a woman counsels a woman. The counseling session should never end in hopelessness. The session should always end Godward, Christward, and heavenward.
Biblical counseling at its best should try to change how people think. Dr. Larry Crabb, in his book Effective Biblical Counseling says, “Many of us place top priority not on becoming Christ like in the middle of our problems but on finding happiness. I want to be happy but the paradoxical truth is that I will never be happy if I am concerned primarily with becoming happy. My overriding goal must be in every circumstance to respond biblically, to put the Lord first, to seek to behave as He would want me to. The wonderful truth is that as we devote all our energies to the task of becoming what Christ wants us to be, He fills us with joy unspeakable and a peace far surpassing what the world offers.” The joy that Jesus brings only comes from a life of obedience to Him.
A person begins to live in obedience when they choose to change how they think. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
People are hungry and too many of them eat out of the trash.
Pastors and counselors have a glorious opportunity to feed people the very word of God. Through counseling sessions, the Holy Spirit can transform how people think to help their thinking align with scripture. When people open up to thinking the way God wants them to, they realize that the way they were thinking in the past is not profitable. People tend to make decisions based on emotions and feelings far to often. The heart is deceptive. People do not automatically seek God because they are sinful creatures. Sin is the obstacle between us and God and is only removed when the Holy Spirit calls us to repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ. Desiring God is the best thing a person can do after salvation.
Counselors should show people how to seek God. Hebrews 12:2 says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”Looking to Jesus with the intensity of a laser beam is the answer for people. If people can see this, they will no longer be distracted by things the world throws at them. They will also be able to handle difficulties easier. This is not to say that they will never have trials but if their eyes are fixed on Jesus, they are more concerned with being conformed to the image of Jesus and less concerned with their trials. When people have their eyes fixed on Jesus, they are able to see that there is a way out of the situation they are in.
Biblical counselors should seek to help people find the abundant life Jesus talks about. This means that people will find all of their passion, purpose, desire, significance, joy, peace, meaning, and identity in Jesus and Jesus alone. The local church would do well to have a counseling ministry that leads other people to seek God with all their heart. Counselors should be proven to be godly people and striving to live in obedience to scripture. Counselors must love God with all their heart, soul and mind and love their neighbors as themselves. Counselors should ultimately love God so that they may love people with the love of Christ. After all, there is no problem that God cannot handle.
Biblical counseling is a tool that God can use to draw more people to Himself. The local church has the opportunity to lead people to Christ through this ministry.
 Unless otherwise noted, the Holy Bible, English Standard Version is used in this paper.
 Dr. Gary J. Oliver, Trust Builders True Stories of Marriages Strengthened by Trials (Ann Arbor, MI.:Servant Publications, 1999), 11.
 Adapted from W.A. Criswell, Criswell’s Guidebook For Pastors (Nashville, TN. Broadman Press, 1980), 278-281.
 Dr. Larry Crabb, Effective Biblical Counseling (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1977). 20.
 The Holy Bible, ESV.
 The Holy Bible, ESV.