By equipping your members to counsel one another, you enable them to do the frontline work of ministry. Here are twenty ways to cultivate a culture of counseling and discipleship in your church:
- Preach the Bible to the church as a whole. In other words, biblical texts should be applied not just to individuals, but to the church as a whole. Help the congregation see what any given text means for their corporate life together, and look specifically for ways to encourage discipleship and mutual caretaking through your sermon applications.
- Preach and apply the gospel. The gospel rightly and regularly preached should produce Christians who perceive their shared obligation to counsel and disciple one another based on their shared family identity in Christ. As often as possible, help the congregation to connect the dots between their profession of the gospel and their active love for one another.
- Offer an occasional Sunday school class on discipleship and/or counseling. See www.capitolhillbaptist.org for sample curriculums (hover over “Resources” and then click on “Core Seminars”).
- Offer Sunday school classes on more specific topics like “Fear of Man” or “Guidance.” Again, see www.capitolhillbaptist.org for sample curriculums.
- In your membership classes, set the expectation of being involved in one another’s lives. Repeat this admonition regularly in sermons.
- In the membership interview, ask the candidate if he or she wants to be involved in a one-on-one discipleship relationship.
- Stock your bookstore and church library with good resources on discipleship.
- Along the same lines, consider a CCEF booklet display in your church for featuring these very brief and digestible resources on a vast number of specific topics. If possible, offer these booklets for free.
- Promote and hand out these same books and booklets from the pulpit.
- Ask the church for a pastoral budget for book giveaways. Have a stack of books in your office ready for spontaneous giveaways.
- Teach the congregation to invite correction and rebuke from one another.
- As the pastor, model this type of humility and receiving of correction!
- Consider providing church small groups with recommended resources according to small group type, e.g., good resources for young married couples groups, for singles groups, etc.
- If resources permit, hire a full-time pastor who can devote himself to counseling.
- If resources permit, hire a woman who can devote herself to counseling and discipling women in the congregation.
- Encourage church members to attend Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) conferences and to make use of its online training courses.
- Offer a lay counseling training class for the members and/or small-group leaders of your church. CCEF offers two excellent curriculums—How People Change: How Christ Changes Us by His Grace and Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: How to Help Others Change. These user-friendly leader’s guides and workbooks make it very easy for pastors, lay leaders, and members to teach one another how to counsel the Word and how to better care for one another.
- Read Paul David Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.
- Encourage the individuals you are discipling for full-time pastoral ministry to read Ed Welch’s book When People Are Big and God Is Small.
- Ask God to raise up elders, godly women, and mature disciplers within your congregation to help care for the sheep.
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