What Is the Relationship Between Counseling and Practical Theology?

Committed to a Life of Wisdom

Christianity happens both at the corporate and individual levels. We discover the benefit of corporate or individual worship when it plays out in interpersonal relationships. As a result, Dr. David Powlison, counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF), argues that counseling is the most practical theology. Leaning on his professional background, he shows how biblical counseling provides an opportunity to connect people practically to a vibrant life with God.

David has been practicing biblical counseling for over 30 years and has written numerous articles on counseling and on the relationship between faith and psychology. His books include Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, Power Encounters, and The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context

David said, "Wisdom is a social gift." Reflecting on the life of Jesus, he pointed out that the majority of Christ's ministry occurred in the context of personal conversations, not through public sermon preaching. Christ exemplified a life devoted to engaging people, which offers an important model for this discussion. 

How have you tended to view counseling? Do you associate it with any of the negative connotations David mentioned? If so, why? In what ways did this video help you to view it differently?
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David referred to biblical counseling as a category of "interpersonal ministry," which he argued is vital for discovering the fruit of our spiritual lives. In your past experiences, how have you seen interpersonal interaction (whether counseling or otherwise) reveal the fruits of your faith? Were those interactions able to instruct you practically in ways a sermon could not? If so, how?
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David said that practical theology is connecting the lives we live with the living God. Looking back on your own past, how have you seen theology made practical? What (or who) provided it for you? What made it so helpful? How might you use this past experience to inform your interactions with others in the future?
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While we should not neglect the corporate worship, David highlighted how often Jesus engaged people on a personal basis in addition to His public preaching. In your own life, how often do you engage in intentional, personal interactions with others? What are some ways you would like to change your perspective on personal engagement?
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If interpersonal ministry is simply a commitment to living wisely and teaching others to do the same, what are some ways you could live that out this week? Who has God placed on your heart to engage with the love of Christ? What steps will you take to connect with them in the days ahead?
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Our interactions with others reveal whether or not we love people well. In this way, like all interpersonal ministries, counseling offers unique opportunities to connect people practically to their God. May your life be marked by a commitment to personal engagement so as to bear mature fruit in service to God. 

This video is a publication of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). All content is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from CCEF. For more information on classes, materials, speaking events, distance education and other services, please visit www.ccef.org.