It is the church’s function and a part of God’s plan that biblical instruction be communicated through its ministries. The church is described in 1 Timothy 3:15 as the pillar and support of the truth. The church has been ordained by God to spread biblical truth to the world. Biblical counseling, being the ministering of the Word of God to people in need, would seem to be best positioned under the God-ordained structure of the church.
The church has been gifted with leaders and teachers for the purposes of edification and Christian ministry. In Ephesians 4:11-12 we read, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” A structure of gifted people and leaders has been put into place in the church, and this structure can provide the administration and functional order needed for a biblical counseling ministry. Paul clearly believed that teaching by gifted leaders was not to be confined to the pulpit or public exposition alone. In Acts 20:20 he stated forthrightly that there is an important element to teaching that should go hand in hand with preaching. He speaks of “teaching you publicly and from house to house.” Teaching house to house would be a more intimate time of specialized teaching from the Word, much like a biblical counseling ministry is designed to be.
A counseling ministry in the local church can be used to train church members so that they too can competently share biblical truth, both within the church and outside the church. In a steady and methodical way, a church can begin to build a culture of biblical counseling around its membership. This culture communicates that we are all to be in the process of growth and change. It is a culture that will extend to Sunday school teaching, small group studies, one on one discussions, and in every other place that fellowship among the saints takes place. As an understanding of the need for progressive sanctification is embraced, the walls of self-righteousness that seek to divide us will be broken down. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:15 that we are to “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.” In 2 Peter 3:18 those words are echoed, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As Jesus trained and sent out His followers, so can we also train and send out church members to minister among the church and the world in the places where they live and work.