One of the “joys” of pastoring a small church for 12 years was the counseling sessions spent advising parishioners. While I had some basic psychology courses in college and received some training in counseling at bible school, counseling people was always a strain. I would listen compassionately, share scriptures, pray over people, have them confess, repent and pray also but mostly to no avail. Many tears were shed in my office but very little life change happened.
I would often think about and sometimes review our bible school text “Competent to Counsel” by Jay Adams. It stresses nouthetic counseling- authoritative use of scripture to warn, admonish and instruct. However after most sessions, I remember often feeling anything but “competent” to counsel. I trudged on hoping people would receive the life change information they needed from the Sunday sermons and personal prayer and counseling times. Unfortunately for the majority of those hurting in some area of life, that didn’t happen.
Then I discovered a ministry called Victorious Christian Living. Their emphasis at that time was to train lay counselors within the local church setting. The ministry was compelling and productive in people’s lives. Plus after taking my church leadership through the training, I didn’t have to do all the counseling. The one drawback however was that the training was pretty extensive for the typical lay person and took considerable time to reach the truly effective point.
I now work for this ministry and am pleased to say that the SALT (Seven Areas of Life) materials embody all the principles of the original lay counselor training. However they are in a format that is much easier to present and train with. As I train leaders in churches today, not only do they receive ministry but they have a simple tool to help others too.
The ministry has changed from a counseling model to a discipleship model and the results are amazing. Life change is the norm with participants and the materials lend themselves to be used in various discipleship venues- groups, seminars, classes as well as personal mentoring and coaching. SALT solves the counseling dilemma for the pastor. It covers all areas of life so it is comprehensive. It is the simple word of God presented in an easily understood and reproducible format. Jesus said to “make disciples” not counsel people. Remarkable what happens when we do what He said!