Trying to get back into the swing of things after a full week of traveling and teaching. I am so thankful to Dr. Kruger, Dr. Newheiser, and the folks at RTS Charlotte for the opportunity to teach both in a community-oriented lecture series, and in the Master of Arts in Christian Counseling classes, both were tremendous privileges. In addition I got a chance to reconnect with Jim and Caroline Newheiser and visit the Billy Graham Library. Wednesday I flew to Fort Worth, Texas were I participated in the Association of Biblical Counselors annual “Called To Counsel” conference. This year saw a new format which I believe could be a game-changer for the Biblical Counseling movement. If you’re familiar with the Biblical counseling tribe then you know our events tend to go one of three directions.
1. A specific topic in which a variety of speakers will weigh in on.
2. A specific path, such as foundational elements or advanced training, in which a variety of speakers will give you general information toward a goal like certification, or supervision.
3. A Pot-Luck of content in which a variety of speakers present a diverse array of topics, approaches, and methods.
This year A.B.C. deviated from past models by offering specialized tracks based on counseling issues. So, participants shared in four plenary sessions on the broader category of counseling and then choose one of six specialized tracks to attend throughout the event.
Plenary Sessions Included
Counsel from the Word with Dwayne Bond
Counsel at the Cross with Elyse Fitzpatrick
Counsel to the Heart with John Henderson
Counsel for God’s Glory with Chris Freeland
Track Options Included
Introduction to Biblical Counseling
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Equipping Counselors in the Church
I was so excited to participate in the domestic abuse track and to be partnered with two incredible people.
Greg Wilson is a tremendous counselor who is highly invested in reducing violence against women and holding abusers accountable. He serves as a deacon at his church where he is developing policies and responses to domestic abuse. I believe Greg will soon be the “go-to” on church-based responses to domestic abuse.
Kathy Haecker is also an outstanding counselor who served for fifteen as a victim advocate within law enforcement. Her passion and experience in the field combined with her deep love of the Scripture make her one of the most skilled and unique advocates I’ve ever worked with.
Our time was divided into eight one-hour sessions. It was a challenge to decide what to include in our track but I believe that we delivered the most complete and nuanced training in the Biblical Counseling movement to date on the issue of domestic abuse. Our sessions broke down as follows.
What is Domestic Abuse with Chris Moles: I walked participants through an introduction to the week’s material by identifying what we were talking about and what we were unable to talk about. I also provided definitions, common elements, statistics, and key examples of abuse.
Theological Considerations: Greg helped us think through the necessity of developing a theology of oppression, recognizing the centrality of the image of God in this work, the dangerousness of hyper-headship/patriarchy, and the value of Biblical complimentarity.
Responding to Victims: Kathy reminded us that Jesus, himself, was a victim of family violence as his children tortured, and murdered him. She then carefully walked us through a relational, victim-centered, biblical approach to care. I have set through countless victim-care lectures in my time and this was, by far, the most complete and most beneficial I have heard.
Responding to the Perpetrator: Greg and I teamed up to deliver material on working with abusive and destructive men. We offered participants some foundational reminders as well as high profile case studies. Greg showed us the distinctions between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow and I walked us through a brief explanation of one the exercises I use.
Separation, Divorce, and Abuse: I have been asked many times to present on this topic but always refused. My thought was this should be addressed by a theologian, or scholar but the the team felt strongly that I could tackle this topic. I walked us through the common divorce Scriptures and built a cas for divorce as tool, given to men by God, for the protection of women.
Legal Issues: Kathy brought her law-enforcement experience to the table and gave clear, concise distinctions between criminal and civil domestic cases as well as tons of great resources. The church is often in the dark regarding social services and court restrictions. This session served us very well.
In Her Shoes: Those of us who have done this work within the larger culture may be familiar with the in her shoes experience but not so much within the church. In fact, I have participated in this exercise many times, but this was the first time I did it in a Christian settings. Participants spent the hour traveling to various stations as a victim of domestic violence. Character cards were distributed to each participant and they made choices which led them to new experiences. Some were injured (make-up), some burdened with baggage or children (bags of flour), and some died. This was an emotional and tremendously beneficial time.
Debrief: We concluded our time with a panel discussion about what we learned and experienced through session seven and how we can apply the lessons of the week.
I can’t say enough good things about this conference. Dr. Lelek and his team have brought a tremendous gift to Biblical Counseling world. If you are a Biblical Counselor and you are looking for a conference to attend, mark “Called to Counsel” on your calendar for 2019.