Introduction to the Side By Side, by Ed Welch
Our recent church survey confirmed what the elders have thought for some time, that our church is healthy and growing in the Lord. Over the past 20 years or so we have grown numerically such that we have had to hive off Trinity Reformed Church, our second service Christ Church Downtown, and are discussing what to do with all the people who are coming to the Logos service, Christ Church Uptown. We are doing really well.
That said, we don’t want to assume or presume anything. We know that pride goes before destruction (Pro. 16:18), the devil is prowling around looking for someone to devour (2 Pet. 5:8) and the moment we rest on our laurels, we are likely to get smoked.
As we explained in our HOH meeting in January, the elders voted to excuse Doug from most of his counseling ministry starting in June. The way we are going to compensate that part of his ministry is to increase the counseling ministry of the whole church. The elders will be participating in more counseling, the PDG leaders will be the next level, and we’re officially appointing everyone else in the church to be a kind of counselor. As it says in Romans 15, we are confident that we are all competent to counsel one another (15:14).
According to the Bible, what counseling is is actually discipleship. We all know that we have been called to make disciples (Mt. 28:18-20), but what that text actually says is something more like, “go into all the world discipling the nations.” This would mean that it is not only an evangelism text—get them into the kingdom, not only a dominion passage—disciple the nations, but also a teaching message—help everyone become like Jesus. These things accord with the rest of Scripture. We are not just creating people who will go to heaven when they die, not only conquering the world for Jesus, but we’re also striving to present every man mature in Christ (Col 1:28).
Paul told us in Ephesians 4 that God has given the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers to train the people to do the works of ministry so that the body of Christ might be built up (4:11-12). Biblical counseling is part of the teaching ministry of the church. It is bringing the word of God to people who are having a difficult time trying to live their lives, with all the distractions, in a way that pleases God (2 Cor. 6:9). Biblical counseling brings the Word of God to one or a few people in order to brings God glory and blesses the people; resulting in joy and peace.
As we said at the HOH meeting, when you think about it, we are all doing discipleship all the time. When you help your children learn to tie their shoes to the glory of God, you’re doing discipleship. When you love your wife by laying down your wife and thus sanctifying her, you are doing discipleship. When you cheer for your husband in front of the neighbors, you are doing discipleship. When you go to coffee with friends and talk about how glorious God is in the light of your recent choir practice, you’re doing discipleship.
Sometimes, topics and situations come up when we feel ill equipped to apply the good news of the Bible to people’s situations. We want to help, but don’t know where to begin or how to proceed. Sometimes, we don’t think we know our Bibles in a way that will help.
As a way to begin enhancing our discipleship/counseling ministry we need to know that Paul was right about our ability to help one another walk with God in the midst of our struggles with living. As a way to encourage one another and to spur one another on to love and good works, our PDG’s will be studying Ed Welch’s book, Side By Side.
The first part of Side By Side talks about the need for helpers to have people to help and how to go about acknowledging and then asking for help.
Part 2 takes us back to remembering that because life is hard, others need our help. The goal for some is to them walk with God better than they are right now, for some the need is to come to Jesus for the first time, and some simply need help in becoming more mature in Christ than they are right now.
Our church motto is All of Christ, for all of life, for all of Moscow. Biblical counseling/discipleship is all about sharing Christ with people in the midst of their life situations, for evangelism, counsel, and simply befriending one another. Side By Side will help us think about doing this better, and will give us a method for doing so.
Memory Verses for Counseling
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Cor. 5:9).
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).