Pursuing ACBC Certification at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

"Once you have completed the exams and observation, you would be ready to begin the third and final phase for certification. This phase consists of 50 sessions of counseling under the supervision of an ACBC fellow. You could complete this phase at DBTS by taking Biblical Counseling Practicum I and II in the spring and fall of 2022, respectively." - DBTS

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

If there can be a biblical counseling certification, why isn't there an "ethical pastoral leadership" certification? There were lots of conversations a while back about the problem of clergy sexual abuse/clergy mishandling of sexual abuse cases. Why can't there be a certification process for pastors trained in how to properly handle these cases as well as ethical decision making and accountable church finances?

I've put the idea out there before and was told all the reasons why it's impossible, but we already have a model for how it could be done.

While preserving local church autonomy, an organization similar to ACBC--but with a different focus--can oversee/coordinate certification in pastoral ethics and--when failures are known, withdraw certification.

I don't know if ACBC has a process for withdrawing certification, but they should.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

T Howard's picture

Aaron,

I'm not sure how much weight I would put on the ACBC certification. I've known three people now who have been ACBC certified counselors who ended up not being able to apply biblical principles to their own interpersonal relationships.

Quite honestly, I think the certification is a "code word" in certain conservative evangelical circles to pad one's resume. But in reality, it has little practical value.

I'm not sure I want another useless certification for "ethical pastoral leadership."

TylerR's picture

Editor

Yes; it's a code word. It's worth a short presumption of competence, but is no guarantee. Just like we all know men with graduate degrees from seminaries who can't preach and are generally incompetent at everything related to the bible.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

T Howard's picture

I would suggest that denominational seminaries require their mdiv / thm students to take classes on specific church ethics issues. Church finances, preventing and reporting child sexual abuse, pastoral moral failures, etc would be topics under discussion in these classes. The classes would include teaching on the biblical, legal, and practical issues / recommendations involved with each issue.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I don't know. I've spent my life working in government, so I've had to learn all of this outside the Church. I think there's a blind spot in pastoral ministry with people who may never have had leadership positions in the real world, and that makes them vulnerable to making stupid mistakes. I could be wrong.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jonathan Charles's picture

I have an M.Div. It was hard fitting in an emphasis on Biblical counseling along with what you, or the school, felt you needed in Biblical languages, exegesis, systematic theology, church history, homiletics, etc. I have pastored 25 years and have followed the advice Al Mohler once gave. He summed up his approach with three questions: What is your problem/need? What does the Bible say about it? What needs to change in your life in light of what the Bible says? Those questions have served me pretty well.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I agree. My comments that follow are not about sexual abuse or child abuse or anything that merits an immediate phone call to the authorities. Please accept this caveat and don't go there ...

I dislike the cult of counseling, because I think we have made this harder than it needs to be. Your three questions are identical to the way I see things, as well. Everything is just a variation on that grid. There has never been a situation I've dealt with that did not boil down to those three questions.

The problem (and I'm thinking particularly of marriages, here) is people often do not wish to forgive, and they do not want to repent because this means admitting guilt, and they do not want to change. So, the merri-go-round goes round and round forever.

I have wasted untold hours of my life meeting with couples who do not want to forgive, want to hold onto bitterness, will not admit fault of any kind, and will not change. I have learned to terminate counseling very quickly in these circumstances. Jay Adams helped me, there, but I had to experience it myself before I truly appreciated what he was saying. 

Counseling is really just applying the Bible to real life. It isn't something we ought to outsource to "experts." There is no magic pill. You explain the scripture, and they either want to do what it says or not. Or, want to try. Counseling = applying the bible = being a pastor. We aren't psychologists; we're shepherds of souls. We need to stay in that lane, and this is why I say counseling = just applying the Bible to real life. I don't even like calling it "counseling."

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

M. Osborne's picture

My sister-in-law did take biblical counseling courses. One take-away she had that I see all the time: people want complex answers that are easy to execute, but the Bible gives straightforward answers that are difficult (or humbling, or whatever) to execute.

I think that people often want "counseling" because they assume there's a knowledge gap. And sometimes people with no background in how to live biblically and wisely need some knowledge gaps filled in. But the lion share of our problems aren't knowledge gaps. They're gaps between knowing better and doing better. So what you need isn't some session with a workbook, but some church family and leaders who love you and get in your face when you need it.

Re: Al Mohler, I remember belly laughing to his description of what he'd be like if he were a counselor. It's recorded out there somewhere.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Joel Shaffer's picture

Tyler, with your statement I appreciate you making a distinction between the actual areas that need professional counseling (sexual abuse, trauma, and etc...) and those that need spiritual guidance to apply God's word to their everyday life. 

My wife is a licensed therapist that's been doing her practice for a little over two years.  Since COVID, the number of abuse situations that she is counseling has tripled. But with some of her clients, she basically does Christian discipleship. A number of those clients come from Health and Wealth Pentecostal backgrounds, so she finds herself having to correct areas of doctrine, especially their approach to sanctification.  What's interesting is since COVID, almost all of her clients had stopped attending church. And several of them, when they were attending church, had no real community of people speaking truth into their lives. Being part of a church body is something she is pushing them towards in her counseling sessions. 

Larry's picture

Moderator

If there can be a biblical counseling certification, why isn't there an "ethical pastoral leadership" certification?

Isn't this called ordination and a call by a church? And a removal by the church for failure in ethical pastoral leadership?

Perhaps what we need is a revival of ecclesiastical discipleship--teach people what it means to be the church. Divorce 'be the church" from "be a Christian outside the church." Insist on people knowing the Bible and following it .Don't outsource to some other group. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The problem is that churches don't talk to other churches, and pastors fired for even severe abuses end up just finding another church.

There is no loss of autonomy in a voluntary participation in an additional layer of communication and accountability among congregations. This is not outsourcing anything. 

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Larry's picture

Moderator

The problem is that churches don't talk to other churches, and pastors fired for even severe abuses end up just finding another church.

That is a church problem, which goes back to my main point. If you are not talking to other churches, particularly past employers, then you are failing. There is no antidote for that. 

There is no loss of autonomy in a voluntary participation in an additional layer of communication and accountability among congregations. This is not outsourcing anything. 

It's not a loss of autonomy. It's that churches need to do their ecclesiastical jobs. Maybe one solution is to raise up pastors and leaders in a congregation instead of going outside. That way, you observe a man over the course of years, not a few questionnaires, an interview, and a message or two. 

It is interesting to me that when problems arise, the first option is very often to form some outside group or agency or some such. But if a church isn't going to do its job, then another organization won't help that, so far as I can see.

Are you not going to judge angels? Surely can you judge yourselves.