It is hard to believe that planning for the 2012 Biblical Counseling Training Conference (BCTC) is well under way. It will not be long before we are joining together for a week of encouragement and equipping centered around Christ and His Word. During Last year’s BCTC we had a number of people ask questions that we simply did not have time to answer. Here is one of those questions:
How do you counsel someone who is not a believer?
Our counseling is open to anyone in our community who believes they need help. However, we do ask them to be willing to submit to biblical counseling from the very first minute. This does not mean they are a Christian, but it does mean that they understand that we will use the Bible as the authoritative source for our counseling. Unbelievers who do not have any interest in spiritual things normally will not agree to that concession. However, there are many unbelievers who have tried other things and not been helped. In our view, these people are ripe for the gospel message (they understand they have problems and they are willing to open a Bible).
So step one of our strategy is to find people that are in a place where they are willing to hear what the Bible says.
The next step is to take every opportunity we can to demonstrate their need for Christ. We will attempt to give them some skills to handle some of their problems, but only in the context of seeking to help them understand that they have a much larger problem – they remain under the power and penalty of sin. In terms of process that means our unbelieving counselees are hearing the gospel message every time we meet with them.
In our experience one of two things generally occur: (1) The counselees come to faith in Christ and continue on in counseling as genuine followers of Jesus, or (2) They begin to tire of hearing about Christ and choose to discontinue counseling. Generally speaking, we have seen counselees choose their own option within the first month or so of counseling appointments.
In both situations we were part of the great commission – we were seeking to win the lost.
Please comment if you have further questions or insights.