Repurposing the Blog
The blog is being re-purposed toward Legacy’s community group leaders to equip, encourage, and embolden biblical counseling in the life-on-life relationships of community groups. I want to encourage you that this is not an added chore for leaders and members alike. Think of this approach to counseling in the same way that our approach to mission seeks to take opportunity through life’s already existing patterns and leverage gospel intentionally in them. I want to encourage you to biblically strengthen and reshape the devotions, prayers, and relationships already present in your life and to leverage them toward the Ephesians 4 mutual church growth we see pictured in the Bible.
This post is the beginning of what I hope reshapes your own view of counseling in the church. We’ll start by going over a series of posts, grouped by a common theme each month, that are meant to get you thinking, reading, and checking against the Word. The reason for a blog is so that you can read it in your own time so that this doesn’t overly burden you and you can remain flexible with your family, community, and mission. Don’t consider this an added responsibility but a leveraging of what you (hopefully) already do, and if need be, an increasing of that effort as you see and trust God more fully.
Counsel is Meant for the Church, Part 1
This month, I want to begin by displaying the idea to you that counsel is meant to be infused in the church and not exported solely to counseling ministries. This is not, by any means, to say that Redemption Groups are no longer serving those who need a safe place to grow for a while. Those are still happening alongside Community Groups. Also, nobody is discounting serving the body with dedicated one-on-one biblical counselors at some point, though this is not done now. What I am saying boldly is that the vast majority of counsel belongs within the body, in everyday informal life. When you know someone well who is struggling under sin or suffering, it is primarily you who will impact them most with the gospel.
This week, let’s be spurred by an analogy from nature and from Ephesians 4. Most of us know the kind of damage a severe weather front can do. The same front, sweeping across the U.S. can dump snow in one place, destroy towns with winds and blizzards, flood other areas with rain, and produce tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. It’s quite impressive, and what our eyes see on radar is a continental-scale monster with results that boggle the mind. But do you know where most of the actual work is done? It’s done by molecules. All of that monster storm, all of that damage, the chaos — it is done by simple, unassuming, innocuous molecule-on-molecule collisions. Think of us as “molecules on a mission,” wielded not for damage but for redemption. We are coordinated, propelled, and guided by God’s wisdom, power, and love to accomplish His mission.
This analogy can go wrong quickly, but I want to use it to focus on three things. First, redemption lives and breathes in seemingly minor “collisions.” The most immense suffering of a lost child or repeated abuse, the most luring of sins in its wildest intensity, though they seem like monsters, they live in the details of life. We think real thoughts, engage real longings, fantasize real “movies” in our heads, say real things, do real things, and make real plans. These “collisions” guide counsel and redemption in community. And we are the molecules colliding in community, guided by God to accomplish His mission. It’s best to think of counsel in this way rather than always being at a Starbucks or in an office with a notepad and book. The very thoughts you’re thinking right this moment, the longings of your heart this moment, have something profound to say for your community’s growth in the Lord. Each body part affects the body.
Counsel is looking at your brother or sister when they grumble and displaying God to them in that moment. “Where is your heart’s thankfulness? Are you trusting in ease more than in God working this annoyance for your good? Grumbling grieves and defames Him, and He loves you despite your grumbling so much that this very moment Christ is pleading for you, and the Father is calling you beloved child.”
Second, counsel makes no sense at all outside community. The goal of counsel is ultimately God’s mission to lift Himself up in all the world, that those from all nations would gaze on Him in trust-fueled obedience and be satisfied spreaders of God. Unless Christ binds us into a collective front, how can we ever hope to impact Knoxville and beyond, as mere molecules? When you collide with a believer in community who needs help, it is you, who are in relationship with them, who will ultimately best help them: life-on-life. It’s better that you enter into their life’s mess with Godly counsel (speaking truth in love) than to merely offload them to a book or a more formal counselor. The same is true, maybe even more so, with our lost friends. And where we need help and are weak, we have community to collide with us and perpetuate the mutual growth of the body into Christ while on mission. We must do this as a body, a united front in Christ.
Third, and we’ll get to this more later, if you’re intimidated by the idea of biblical counsel and change, you probably should be. Change is no small task, impossible by our human means, way beyond our influence. We indeed are in over our heads! Only God can change a heart’s desires and continue to kill sinful desires with ones that long for God Himself alone. But how about trusting and obeying in the everyday? How about changing your collisions by faith, trusting Him to organize the front and accomplish the real work with His body? Can you speak the gospel relationally and personally into one aspect of someone’s troubles at a time, hear them speak into one of your own? Will you live in child-like trust and obedience? Our call in counsel is to trust and obey in our collisions: to speak the truth in love. We do not do this ignorantly or lazily. No, we do it with great effort. But can you rest that God’s plans don’t depend on your effort, current knowledge, or skill. Does His sovereignty free you to obey hard by faith even if not “perfectly?” There is a reason we are called to an olympic-level striving that Jesus characterizes as restful. I long to embolden you to see that counsel lives in everyday obedience and is ultimately worked with power by His hand. Will you strive? Will you trust?
Read Ephesians 4:1-16. Are there leaders? Are they the only ones who counsel? What is counseling? Where is there mutual building? Who is the one ultimately building? Does any body part act independently? What is the result of this goal of maturity?
Take two weeks to think, discuss, pray, and write about this. Don’t work anxiously under intimidation. Rather, enjoy what He reveals to you and trust His hand to work this over time as you work hard by faith.