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  • Going With The Gruenings

Replicating Healthy Biblical Counseling Ministry

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

True confessions: Growing up in Germany, I watched the Smurfs and I love them. Don't judge! We even used to have a cassette tape that we used to listen to. On that tape, Papa Smurf took everyone on a journey. Wouldn't you know it, like 30 minutes into the journey, everyone is like, "Papa Smurf, are we there yet?" Are we there yet - the perpetual question of every child. Patience isn't their strong suit, for sure. But you know what, even though as adults we grow to be more patient, I'm not sure we are even close to being as patient as we should be.

Replicating a healthy biblical counseling ministry anywhere takes time. There just aren't enough hours in a day, not enough energy in the tank, not enough resources available to make this a fast-tracked building project. One of my mentors and dear friends has said it this way, "Soul care ministry is a deep and slow ministry." That's because people don't change on a dime.

More importantly if you want to build something that is solid and healthy, it is going to take time. No matter how much equipping you provide, the goal typically isn't knowledge - it's application of the knowledge. Especially when it comes to people, you cannot simply train people to have their heads filled with applicable information and then release them onto the masses. Who wants the totally green counselor to speak into their lives?

So, we must be focused. We must be strategic. We must be cautious. "Inspect what you expect!" people say. Again, it all takes time.

But there is another element to doing ministry well. It is this - don't multiply something too soon, especially not if it is unhealthy. If you multiply something unhealthy, you'll likely grow more unhealthy things in the place where the multiplied thing is now growing. Who wants that? So again, more time is needed.

Some of you maybe thinking, "I'm falling asleep just listening to that - it sounds so exhausting." Well, there is that too, but, honestly, once you have seen the beauty of something healthy multiplying from one place to another - it's so amazing to watch. When we were on staff at the church in Chicago, we saw the impact of slowly building into the people. We trained and we encouraged new counselors. We met with them, included them in our sessions to observe, we slowly gave them pieces to own in the counseling, we evaluated them and then we gave them cases to lead. We then observed their steps, and gave them feedback. Even though they felt stretched and not ready at times, they persevered and we walked right alongside them - but we saw their gifts being used and lives being changed.

You can imagine the time and the effort, the patience, and the prayer it takes to build something like that. Now multiply that by however many healthy churches without biblical counseling that you know. That's why this is a slow and deep ministry. People change slowly and training those who are caring for those slow-changing people are being trained over a long period of time.

As we look to engage churches and people in Germany, we are aware that our efforts need to be long-term efforts. Our focus cannot be on immediate gratification from sudden change. We must trust that God is moving in and through us and that as we remain faithful, God changes the hearts and lives of people. Although it's not always easy to follow, consider what Proverbs 21:5 says: "The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance but everyone who is hasty only comes to poverty." Long-obedience in the same direction. Focused, intentional, unwavering commitment to building up the body of Christ. That's what we are going for.

We trust that you are being encouraged by these posts and that even if you're not physically present to walk this road with us, that you are actively considering ways to partner with us.

Additionally, we hope that you consider how what we are sharing with you applies directly to you. For example:

1) Where have you struggled to make progress and forgot that change takes a long time?

2) Where have you been discouraged in praying for a hurting friend because they cannot seem to make progress?

Don't stop praying. Don't stop engaging. Lean in. Speak up. Encourage. Call out to God yet again to do what is not possible in our strength and wisdom.

Then praise Him for his faithfulness and grace - even when you cannot yet see the change.

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