Marital Counseling or Discipleship: They Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Christ-centered disciple making is not a new concept to the counseling ministry. For a number of years I have been teaching that biblical counseling is micro-disciple. A couple comes for counseling regarding some marital issue. The task is not to simply help the couple solve the immediate problem. It is to lead them towards the understanding of their problem in the context of their relationship to Jesus Christ.

The spiritually minded counselor sees a particular problem in their lives as an opportunity to develop their relationship with each other and the Lord. The goal is to develop spiritual maturity (Col. 1:28) through this one-on-one disciple making that focuses on resolving the presentation problem. However, solving the presenting problem is enfolded into the larger goal of spiritual maturity. If you are seeking marital counsel, the desire for this approach should be part of your qualifying the counselor you choose.

The biblical counseling ministry encourages church attendance and often involves the individual counselee(s) in a small group as well. Counseling almost always involves specific homework that not only is aimed at assisting the counselees with problem amelioration, but also with developing a biblical knowledge base that trains them for better self-responsibility.

Christians who are vitally involved in serving Christ in the Body sometimes become involved in personal problems that call for the pastor or his staff to assist them in resolving these issues. We see an example of this in the life of Euodia and Syntyche in the Philippian church. Here is Paul’s instruction to the pastor. “Indeed, true comrade, I ask you to help these women…” (Phil. 4:1-2). This is the Lord’s mandate concerning marriages as well.

Premarital preparation is another form of micro-disciple making. This is wonderful ministry that a trained team of Lay Counselors can do effectively. They can engage with couples through five to seven sessions intensely looking at how their walk with Christ impacts the reality of their marriage with regard to roles, finances, sex, in-laws and personality styles. One couple commented regarding their assignment to have a couple worship time twice a week, “This has been great! We have really learned the value of building this into our relationship.”

So, the bottom line is this. Whether you are a couple desiring to develop your relationship or a couple with a significant marital issue, there is something larger than your relationship that God desires to do in your life through your relationship. According to Romans 8:29, God is working all things together for good for those that love God. Things include your desire for a developing relationship or issues within your relationship. What is the good? It is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ.

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