Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spring 2014 Acts 29 New England Regional Part 4 of 4 | Intro to Gospel Counseling

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Intro to Gospel Counseling

Acts 29 New England Regional Discipleship Training with Jonathan Dodson in Woburn, Massachusetts on Monday, May 5, 2014 

These posts are for the Discipleship Training I had the privilege to  participate in back in early May with Jonathan Dodson and more than 90 churches represented in the New England area. The topics covered were "Unbelievable Discipleship", "Re-Evangelism", "Gospel Metaphors", and "Intro to Gospel Counseling". Here are previous posts:
I'm still soaking in the thoughtfulness and wisdom that was shared. If you'd like to do some soaking yourself, here are video links* to three of the talks followed by my notes from the specific session this post is focused on:

*I would highly encourage you to watch the videos as Jonathan provides more research and great real-life examples during his talks that I wasn't able to record below.

Discipleship Training with Jonathan Dodson Part 4 of 4 | Intro to Gospel Counseling

This is by no means a thorough overview of gospel counseling, but an introduction to it. Helpful books to further explore a healthy counseling posture are:

“One of the keys in helping someone understand their story, as well as how God's story of good news is intersecting with where they are no matter how dark, is to surface their needs and desires by listening. 
The key actions are: 
    1. Take the time to know their story overall
    2. Listen to how they tell their story
    3. Empathize with them in their story
    4. Redemptively retell their story in ways they can see how Jesus meets their needs
    5. Give them something to do in response to grace uncovered."

The three movements in the midst of these actions are: 
  1. Love
  2. Know
  3. Speak



One way to love well is to listen well. We need to give up on time and give in to love.

  • Don't interrupt
  • Don't shift the focus to you
  • Let them know you understand what they're saying and feeling
  • Then ask if you can share from your thoughts and experience when there is a pause

Allow for a range of emotions when people begin to really open up. Don't tell them to stop if what they say is wrong or false. When people suffer, they say things they often don't really believe. And when we're not gracious, we'll expect people to behave the way we would or the way we think we would. 

"Advice tries to fix the situation. Counsel tries to know and address the heart. God is both sovereign and imminent. Jesus is both transcendent and human. The Spirit is both powerful and comforting. We need to embody the gospel. Be physically present. We aim to replace grief with God's comfort after the grief has been shared and played out.

Each time of counseling, set the expectation for the hour. You don't want to counsel them in a way that makes you their savior. Counsel them to the Savior.


As you listen, there are key words and statements that will help you understand who someone is better.

  • Emotional words: "angry"; "lonely"; "
  • Interpretive statements: "This shouldn't happen ..."; "I'm getting what I deserve ... "; "They shouldn't have ... "
  • Universal statements: "I always ... "; "This always happens ... "

When they something about God, really pay attention.

"Ultimately, we want to get to 'Who is God in this situation?' How is He meeting us in our deepest suffering or need even when we don't recognize Him or misunderstand Him? Is He the Suffering Servant? The Father of Compassion? The Counselor or Comforter?

Wide questions will be related to their history and what they desire.
Deep questions will be related to their values and what they believe.


Before you move into sharing what you've heard and how you want them to consider their situation, aim to:

  • Remind them that there is a limited amount of time for this session, so not everything will be addressed immediately
  • Ask for them to clarify anything that sounded confusing, contradictory, etc.
  • Focus on what has been repeated with the most emotion or pain and seems to be the most important
"We want to work through the situation to the Savior. And we need to remember that Jesus is advocating and interceding for us.

In some cases, we will need to confront people in their sin. When we do not confront, it's often not because we love people too much, but because we love ourselves and what people think of us too much. But we need to remember, it's not only what we say, but how we say it.

"Along with trusting that Jesus is interceding for us, He has also given us His church with people to come around us and believe the gospel for us when we are hurting, struggling, and doubting. The church is called to believe the gospel for one another."

Curiosity piqued? Something inside you being stirred? Go ahead and connect
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