Prospect, Challenge, and a Personal Invitation1
Pastors looking at their congregation through the lens of Scripture see both a wonderful prospect and a daunting challenge.
The prospect? Scripture helps pastors see from a distance the glory of God’s people coming into their own: “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
The challenge? Scripture helps pastors see up close a threat to God’s people fulfilling this vision: if we do not “equip the saints for the work of ministry,” then our congregations will not grow up to maturity (Ephesians 4:12).
Clearly, the needs for wise care within the church far exceed the capacity of any pastor, and clearly, the solution is to multiply wise helpers within the church through training. “How?” is the million-dollar question! The Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) is a biblical counseling ministry that God is using worldwide to help pastors like me answer this all-important, how-to question.
Twenty years ago, a friend invited me to attend CCEF’s National Conference, and I’m so glad I did! That’s where I not only caught the vision for biblical counseling but also began to receive training to live and do the vision. Today, I’d like to invite you to join me and members of Harvest’s Love & Truth Counseling Ministry in attending CCEF’s National Conference.
This year’s conference is titled “Modern Problems: Caring for Souls in the 21st Century”, and it will be held October 8-10 in Greensboro, NC. Here’s how CCEF describes this year’s training focus:
“What should we do when we’re trying to help people struggling with problems that don’t seem to be found in the Bible? Where do we turn? Where can we find help? We want to offer relevant, God-centered help, but as we try to navigate through 21st-century problems such as social media use, online dating, gender identity, and complex trauma, we often feel somewhat lost and out of our element. It’s tempting to resort to simplistic answers--or to give up, questioning that such an ancient text can help with modern problems. But then again—if God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3)—surely his Word has something meaningful and life-giving to say as we care for hurting and troubled souls. Join us for our 2021 conference, where we will examine how to bring the wisdom of Scripture to bear on the questions and difficulties of living today.”
While I plan to show and tell you about church-based counseling ministry through class offerings throughout the year, there’s no substitute for a catalyzing event. Focused moments are necessary so that the Holy Spirit can kindle within the hearts of laypeople a vision for what counseling ministry can be and should be.
CCEF’s National Conference wonderfully fulfills this function. Keynote speakers illustrate how God calls and equips the church to interpret and address problems in living through conversational ministry. Practical workshops explore and tackle variations of our struggles in more detail. Rubbing shoulders with laypeople from around the country gives a window to how other churches think, love, and do counseling ministry, and how our church can do the same. And all of this takes place within a weekend soaked in worshiping the Christ who transforms sinners and sustains sufferers.
Interested or curious to learn more? Let me suggest the following:
- Visit CCEF’s website, specifically this link to their National Conference webpage: https://www.ccef.org/conference/2021-national-conference/ for information on the conference (costs, FAQ, etc.).
- Send me an email, including any questions you have. Better yet, drop by my office and let’s talk over a cup of coffee (or bag of peanut M&Ms!); I’d be glad to talk more personally about this opportunity!