Answering Your Questions: Should I Start a Biblical Counselling Practice?

If your local church does not have a biblical counselling ministry and you are certified, what are your thoughts on starting your own private practice as a biblical counsellor?

This is a great question and one that I wrestled with, as I sought the Lord’s direction regarding my involvement in biblical counselling. Without knowing the specific context in which this question is being asked, I want to be careful about assuming too much. Some of the clarifying questions I want to ask are: Is the leadership at your church open to biblical counselling? What are the limitations preventing a biblical counselling ministry in the church (ie. does the church lack resources)? Has there been a conversation with church leadership about this?

Let’s consider the first scenario, that the church leadership is not in favour of starting a biblical counselling ministry. There could be several reasons for this. It could be a lack of trust in biblical counselling, or it could be a lack of resources.  Whatever their reasons, the church’s leadership does not want to move in this direction. What do you do?

I believe Deepak covered this well in his first session of the 2024 conference. His encouragement was to pray and give away good resources. Pray for your church leaders! If biblical counselling is something you are passionate about, bring it to the Lord and ask for Him to open the doors for biblical counselling in your church. If you have read a good book on biblical counselling, buy a copy and give it to your pastor – follow up in a month or so and take him out for a coffee.

Let’s say that the church leadership is in favour of biblical counselling but does not have the resources to start a ministry. How can you help?

You could offer to run a class at your church. No doubt some in your church have experienced grief, so why not run something like GriefShare? Running a class like this will do two things: (1) it will help those in the church who are grieving, and (2) it will help your church leaders manage the load of caring for those in hard seasons of life.

While you are doing this, get involved in informal counselling within your church. Most likely you are already someone that people seek out for help. Minister to them well, love them like Jesus. Seek to demonstrate the merits of biblical counselling within the life of the church. As your faithful efforts produce fruit, others will begin to see the value of biblical counselling.

Should You Start a Private Biblical Counselling Practice?

Perhaps you have tried some of the options above and you still feel led to do something on your own. Again, I don’t want to assume that I know the motivations behind this desire, so I will only offer a word of caution.

The desire to venture out on our own may come out of a place of passion for seeing something happen, or it may be born out of frustration. Sometimes its a combination of both. Whatever the case may be, it is important to examine our own hearts in those moments. We should seek the Lord and discern if we are simply passionate about blazing our own trail, or if there is a genuine call from God to meet a specific need. One way seeks the help and accountability of others, while the other seeks to serve our own ambitions or career interests.

There may be instances where starting a private practice is a noble thing to do. I am not saying that it is never a good and necessary thing. If God is calling you to move in this direction, then feel free to move forward. At the same time, there should also be some important structures around the building of a private biblical counselling practice. I emphasize ‘biblical’ because we want to think holistically about how biblical counselling fits within the larger context of the body of Christ.

Important Considerations:

As biblical counsellors, we must be concerned about the well-being of our counsellee’s, as members of the body of Christ. As we counsel biblically, we need to encourage our counsellee’s to grow as disciples of Christ by being active participants in their local churches.

The challenge for biblical counsellors who operate a private practice is that it can be easy to remain at arms-length from the local church. This should not be the case. Again, starting a private biblical counselling practice is not wrong, as I know many who do this faithfully, but it can be possible to go about it in the wrong ways. Biblical counsellors should guard themselves against this by striving to maintain fruitful relationships with local churches and church leaders.

In his opening address on Ephesians 4 at our 2024 Conference, Tim Challies reminded us that God has appointed leaders in the church – shepherds, elders and teachers to carry out the work of leading the church and its members. Biblical counsellors would do well to recognize this and respect the role that the church plays in the life of the counsellee. There will be times when a counsellee needs accountability, or even church-discipline. There will also be times when the local church should be encouraged to step in and surround those who are suffering and broken. Get to know where your counsellee’s are fellowshipping and engage with their leaders so that the church can do what it was called to do.

I hope this sounds like good news. The beauty of biblical counselling is that it’s not just all about the counsellor doing counselling – it’s about the body of Christ caring for and discipling each other the way God designed.


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