Here are advantages #2 & #3 to encourage you to read the whole thing:
Here is a second advantage. It is a premise of biblical counseling that people are not just “problems.” They are not defined by a “diagnosis.” People come with gifts and callings—from God himself. They have a new identity—in Christ. All of us are given a role to play in the greater whole: regardless of physical or mental abilities, or education, or age, or any of the other human differences. ... The call to serve others brings dignity, purpose, belonging, identity, and participation. A woman coming out of drug addiction and poverty was moved to tears of gladness by the simple fact that she was personally invited to help another family in need. She contributed five meaningful dollars and a Saturday morning to helping them. Instead of being seen just as a “needy, troubled” person, she, too, could give, and it meant the world to her.
Here is a third advantage. Anyone can help anyone else. God delights in apparent role-reversals. Counseling in a church context is far richer than “designated expert” meets with “needy client.” I’ll never forget a story that my former pastor, Jack Miller, told about his sister-in-law. She was mentally disabled and lived with him and Rosemary, his wife. As a result, “Aunt Barbara” was a natural part of the church body. One day on the way to church, Jack was grumbling about the rainy weather. Aunt Barbara, in her simple 5-year-old way, said to him “But Jack, the sun is always shining. It’s just behind the clouds.” God used that like a lightning bolt. God is always shining, no matter what his providence displays on the surface. Out of the mouth of a woman with a child’s mental life came words of faith that blessed the pastor of a church of 800 people. That’s the body of Christ!As Powlison says at the end of his article, professional parachurch biblical counseling has its place. We are immensely grateful for the ministry of people like Jeff Stark. But we also must embrace the centrality of the local church for biblical counseling. All Christians are called to encourage one another and bear one another's burdens. We all need wise counsel and this should and will happen very informally over coffee, in our home groups, while moms are talking at the playground, etc. There are also times of deeper struggle when you need someone who is especially committed and equipped to provide this kind of counsel in the church. Along with the pastors at Bethel, there are several others who are committed and equipped for this kind of ministry. If you're looking for someone to meet with, please let me know and I'd be happy to recommend one of them to you.
It's very appropriate that Bill sent this article, because he and Barb live out this vision in their own commitment to biblical counseling in our local church. They take this role so seriously that they invest a week each year to get further equipped by attending the Biblical Counseling Training Conference at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN. They also encourage others to go along. They just returned from this year's conference, having taken two ladies along with them. Maybe you should consider joining them next year!