An article written for FIEC.
Encouraging New Growth
There is a growing interest in “biblical counselling” here in the UK. New Growth Christian Counselling in Edinburgh are seeking to put that model of counselling into practice as they work in partnership with local churches. Andy Hunter tells their story.
David Armstrong is one of our Pastors’ Network members with a passion to see counselling shaped by the gospel and firmly rooted in the Bible. It’s possible for counselling done by Christians to become detached from the gospel and employ essentially secular models of therapy in helping people with life issues. In contrast, genuinely biblical counselling should be ‘a rivet’ that connects the gospel directly to life and doesn’t shy away from applying God’s Word.
One key biblical truth is the need for the church to be the community in which people can be cared for and work through problems. However, due to the complexity and depth of some problems, a component of church care may sometimes be the involvement of specialised counsellors. David wants to ensure that such counselling is not about solving problems in isolation but about discipleship – demonstrating that the gospel is something that helps us to face all of life.
Serving the church
It was with these desires and convictions that David, along with Louise Macmillan (from the Free Church of Scotland), started New Growth Christian Counselling in Edinburgh last year. The service is supported by both Charlotte Chapel and Bruntsfield Evangelical Church – support and connections that are an integral part of New Growth’s philosophy. Those using the service need to be referred by church pastors or must be willing to make positive connections with an appropriate church.
David is very clear that New Growth is not a substitute for the wisdom and care of church elders but exists to assist and compliment their shepherding. An emphasis that should reassure anyone who fears that such counselling might point people away from the church in seeking solutions to their problems. Rather a Christian’s relationship with a local church is key in helping them view their lives biblically.
Trained to help
In preparing to start New Growth, David and Louise have each spent a number of years undertaking training with CCEF (the Christian Counselling & Educational Foundation), which is centred around an ethos that is biblical and church-connected. David has also completed the Cornhill Training Course and his work as an elder of Charlotte Chapel gives him plenty of hands-on experience in church ministry.
As counsellors, David and Louise seek to help people struggling with a range of issues including addictions, marriage issues, fear, anxiety, guilt, shame and depression. While doing this they always work with other health and care providers where appropriate. The desire in all situations is to see people re-orientated in their thinking; to have greater confidence in God’s love and Christ’s sufficiency for them.
David recalls attending the Changing Hearts conference in 2013 and being struck by how many people were there (you can read Richard Underwood’s report on that conference here). He saw the huge appetite that exists for this kind of ministry. The CCEF model of counselling is something that is relatively new and undeveloped in the UK, but hopefully it will be increasingly useful to the church in the coming years.
Please pray for David and Louise as they develop this ministry – especially for connections to those who they could help. Pray that it will be a great blessing to the wider church in Edinburgh and will lead the way for similar ministries elsewhere.
Find out more about Biblical Counselling UK, including details of future conferences, at biblicalcounselling.org.uk