The word “counsel” in Scripture occurs 90 times- in most cases it refers to sharing wisdom to help make godly decisions. Unfortunately, since the 1960s, the world has used this word to mean getting “professional” help from someone behind a desk. The church in general has bought into this model. I disagree.
This is a serious responsibility. “So how do you do it,” you ask? “Should a church have a formal counseling ministry?” Scripture does not give us specifics. Every church should be prepared to counsel people. A formal counseling ministry needs to be established. This is not so I can do the counseling, but believers within that church body are trained by God’s Word to help others with their challenges.
The examples in Scripture show us that we need to know God’s Word, seek it FIRST, and follow God’s Way’s not Man’s Ways. “The way that seems right to a man leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Sometimes it takes another person to help us see that we are not thinking God’s way. Then you are to put off sinful patterns and put on godly ones. (Ephesians 4, Colossians 2).
I recommend the following resources if you want to grow in this area of your Christian walk.
Christian Counselor’s Manual, Jay Adams
Competent to Counsel, Jay Adams
Introduction to Biblical Counseling, John F. MacArthur Jr., Wayne A. Mack
Self-Confrontation: A Manual for In-Depth Discipleship, John C. Broger
Transformed Into His Likeness: A Handbook for Putting Off Sin and Putting on Righteousness, Armand Tiffe
Biblical Counseling: What to Expect, Lou Priolo
I do caution you to be careful when looking at “self help” books in a Christian bookstore. Make sure that they understand the gospel message, and they call sin, “sin”. Often well-intentioned Christians will not find victory because they are not dealing with the sin in their lives.
Romans 15:14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.