"Monkey see, monkey do" is the moto of all too many 'Christians'. The world appoints women leaders - so should we, thinks the Church of Wales. The world approves of homosexual relationships - so should we, says Steve Chalke et al. The list gets longer by the day.
"The Church needs professional counsellors"
One item on that list is the idea that in order to counsel someone you need "professional training". It is unthinkable that, for example, you should counsel someone going through a marriage crisis unless you have sat behind a desk and taken notes from so-called experts, then sat an exam and got yourself some letters after your name.
This idea in the world is driven by the following secular pressures:
(1) Knowledge pips wisdom. You have a certificate which says that you crammed your head once upon a time with knowledge that equips you to help someone else: we live in a knowledge-crazy, qualification-mad culture.
BUT, what's needed when you counsel is not knowledge but wisdom. And there is no necessary connection - whatsoever - between knowledge and wisdom. I'd prefer being counselled by a godly binmen ("Technical Hygiene Operative") who doesn't even know what a BA is (or who thinks it stands for Born Again) than any letters-after-my-name 'professional'.
(2) You'll get sued. A second driving force behind training mania is the litigious culture we live in. We dare not do anything unless we are protected by something - in this case a certificate and insurance paid to a professional body - in case the counseled turns on the counselor.
BUT, counseling in the church is not a legal contract between Professional and Client, it's a relationship between two saved sinners in the same family who love each other - between brothers and sisters - who sit down to open God's Word together in a spirit of humility and prayer.
(3) No-one knows the truth anyway. Who'd want to be a worldly counsellor? All you are allowed to do is bounce ideas back to the counseled - why? Because the world frankly doesn't have a clue. It's in the dark. It does not know how a marriage should work. It doesn't know how a parent should bring up a child.
BUT, children of the light do have answers to all of the problems and questions of life. We have the Scriptures which are lamp and light, we have the Holy Spirit within us, and the experience of our walk with God.
Thank God for Jay Adams
Some decades ago ago Jay Adams wrote a helpful book, "Competent to Counsel" in which he argued that every Christian should be able to counsel any other Christian. He was and is absolutely right.
In the church we don't need a new priesthood of "professional counsellors", who so often are trained more in Jung than Jesus.
All we need is ordinary godly Christians who read their Bibles and walk with God. In the church of Jesus Christ, a counseling expert is a godly man or woman with a Bible in their hand and the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
"I myself am convinced my brothers,
that you yourselves are full of goodness,
complete in knowledge
and competent to instruct one another."
Next time you need counseling, save your pennies, and phone a (godly) friend.