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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christian Counselling by Frank Hunting

Below  is an extract from a Churches of Christ provocative pamphlet from 1955 by Frank Hunting.Over the length of his lifetime and ministry Frank counselled and helped hundreds of people including myself.
The Church desparately needs people doing what Frank has suggested here.
If Frank were alive today he would also be endorsing that not Just Christian "Ministers" have the responsibility to counsel but also appropriately equipped lay people.
There are organisations which have developed programmes for equipping lay people.
Two that I recommend are Grace Fellowship International(Charles Solomon is the founder) and Freedom in Christ Ministries(Founded by Neil Anderson)

"Spiritual Counselling.
      Spiritual counselling is not being seriously undertaken in our churches. It is still regarded as the work of specially trained or specially gifted men. It ought to be the normal thing in every congregation. For this work spiritual insight is more important than psychological training. Every minister, if he follows the practice of his Master, would give hours of his time every week to this important work, but the average minister is so overtaxed by the demands of organising a modern congregation that he completely throws out any suggestion that he may need five or six hours in any week to sit at leisure to give spiritual counselling to people who need it. Nor, do the deacons and members realise how important it is that their pastor should do this work.
      Homes are breaking or are in trouble, individuals carry, crushing personal problems, nervous breakdowns crop up here and there, good Christian people are developing neurotic tendencies, and all these should be receiving special spiritual counselling. There is need for guidance and counsel on all aspects of living which the minister out of his growing store of wisdom and experience should be giving, and in any church where the work of the Holy Spirit is in evidence there should be individuals becoming dissatisfied with their Christian experience who want to grow spiritually--these and other aspects of living demand that churches should see to it that their minister has adequate time to give all the spiritual counselling needed. People, whose problems have a spiritual origin are going to doctors and psychiatrists; they should be going to Christian ministers skilled in spiritual counselling.

The Equipment
      God can train a man in spiritual counselling and the following personal equipment is essential. A man must himself quite obviously have an increasingly growing experience living Saviour, He must know from first-hand personal experience the power of Christ to change men. To undertake spiritual counselling should be to enter into a secret compact with God to pray in faith for Christ's cleansing and delivering power in the life of the one we are counselling.
      The basic requirements of the spiritual counsellor are:
      * The counsellor must have faced all his own sin, failures, defeats and share these with another.
      * He should live in the open with others about his pride, sin, victories, prejudices, self--all that the Holy Spirit is showing him to be when measured against the life of Jesus.
      * He must obviously be finding Christ to be the answer to his own life, circumstances and situations.
      * He must be willing to share any part of his life with another as God directs him.
      * He must be practising God's guidance and leading in his own life and affairs. Only as God leads will some unravel the tangle of their lives. The spiritual counsellor to help such people must have complete confidence in the Holy Spirit's guidance and leadership in such matters.
      * He must have unbounded confidence in Christ's power to meet and solve the problems and needs in any person's life. There are no exceptions to this.
      * He must never take sides either for or against people, but always take God's side, God's part in every situation.
      * He must be an unfailing channel of love and patience.
      * He must give all the time needed even if this extends over years.
      * He must see more than the situation as presented to him; he must see origins, causes, reasons.
      * For this he will need deep penetration into motives and the self-deceptions we all deal in. This demands constant reliance upon the Holy Spirit for the insights which liberate.
      * We must learn not only to detect the causes of trouble and upset, we must also learn to help people build into their lives the positive power that lies in faith in God,
      This word from Oswald Chambers must be the conviction of the counsellor: "The Lord seems to come to us in every individual case we meet--'Believest thou that I am able to do this?' Whether it be a case of demon possession, bodily upset, mental twist, backsliding, indifference, difference of nationality and thought--the challenge is to me: Do I know my risen Lord? Am I wise enough in God's sight to bank on what Jesus told me? Am I foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world to do it? or am I abandoning the supernatural position, which is the only one for a missionary (or Christian), of boundless confidence in Jesus?"
      Let us not try to be psychologists. We come to offer men and women Christ. His cleansing for their sin. His all sufficient grace for their defeats and failures. His never failing presence for their confusion and frustration. His guidance and solution on all matters. Christ is Himself the answer and He alone has the answer. Many people want help but they don't want it in the only way they will ever get it. Till they want help in the way He can give, we may need to stand aside watching them try all the approved failures until they are willing to believe that Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life.

      Graduated from the Federal College of the Bible in 1933. After graduating, he served the churches at Blackburn and Prahran, Victoria, then followed three years as Youth Director for our New South Wales churches. On the expiration of that term he served the church at Ann St., Brisbane, for a period, and has been with the Dawson St. church, Ballarat, Victoria, for the past six and a half years."

My footnote.
 In semi retirement Frank came to the Church of Christ at Grote Street in Adelaide as a colleaugue of Pastor Harold Long.They were in tandem ministry for 5 years.
He then moved to Noarlunga Centre Church of Christ in 1980 where he finished his official ministry.
Frank also gave considerable assistance to the Murray Bridge Church of Christ while in Aelaide.
He was a counsellor to many in Adelaide and Victoria and beyond in his lifetime.

See also the link below to an extract from Frank's booklet on Christmas about Jesus as Counsellor.

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