Part Two of this article is simply a copy of the certification maintenance protocol that has been created and is being enacted by Biblical Soul Care Philippines, one of the by-nationals, for-nationals, culture-specific, biblical counseling certification organizations created through the work of Overseas Instruction in Counseling in fulfillment of its strategic objective.
Here is one of the worst-kept secrets and, in my opinion, one of the most glaring deficiencies in the modern biblical counseling movement: the requirement of continuing education for certified biblical counselors is practically non-existent.
What neglected ministry skill training most powerfully changes pastors – thereby strengthening churches – causing them to more faithfully fulfill the Great Commission by becoming more intentional and effective in their disciple-making? Biblical counseling – or, more broadly, soul care – training, of course!
Most of us tend to work close to home, so we’re not alert to 1) the peculiarities of other cultures, and/or 2) the doctrinal perspectives of other ministries. That was certainly true of me during my years as a pastor, 25 of which were invested in one town in middle America. But, traveling to teach—even in the USA, but especially around the world—will inevitably cause you to be faced with the collision between culturally-generated ideas and (what you have been taught are or what you believe to be) scriptural mandates.
OIC desires to work cooperatively and collaboratively, never competitively, in any country with others who have a heart for international biblical counseling training. Our quick initiation of an offer of partnership and the gracious response of the other ministry averted the potential for damage in this case.
It is normally expected that those being trained to help others through biblical sufficiency-based soul care ministries will themselves first be touched by the grace of God and experience some measure of personal spiritual growth. That certainly happened to me! But graduate academic classes in biblical counseling are sometimes just another programmatic requirement to be endured. In addition, the academic environment itself can seem theoretical, detached-from-life, even “stuffy.” This is the story – mostly testimonies – of something God did that was the dramatic transformation of lives, families, and churches through the first two classes of a new academic program.
It seems impossible to believe that Overseas Instruction in Counseling is already a little more than 10 years old. When, in the Fall of 2005, Susie and I began to envision a ministry that would train pastors around the world in biblical sufficiency-based soul care, we never could have imagined the ways God would open doors of opportunity and expand the ministry we began in June, 2006.
Overseas Instruction in Counseling, a faith-based missions ministry, was launched in June, 2006. The very next month Susie and I traveled to the Philippines to conduct the first of five annual biblical counseling conferences in partnership with the international evangelism and discipleship ministry, Word of Life, Philippines. The director at that time, Mike Foster, had identified the need for soul care based on biblical sufficiency for the pastors in the Philippines. He invited us to begin the process of addressing the need for biblical counselors who could train others to also do biblical counseling.
The concept of “cultural imperialism” has been the subject of innumerable books and journal articles in the Christian missions community (and the missions communities of other religions) for many decades. There is general agreement on the basics: The Word of God is eternal, the gospel is unchanging, and believers of every culture are sanctified through the same biblically-prescribed disciplines of faith. Therefore, the discussion on this topic focuses on the application of those principles. And, throughout the history of missions the pendulum has swung from one extreme (obliterate every vestige of cultural expression to make the evangelized group “Christian”) to the other (allow even unbiblical practices and perspectives to remain in the evangelized group to avoid an “imperialistic” impression).
American ethnocentricity can have devastating consequences. To be clear, I’m an American. And I’m grateful for the blessings God has made available to me as an American. One of those…