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The Graduate Committee of
International Graduate School of
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Ministry
Statement of the Problem
A. The Question
A concern in ministry is that
the selection, training, supervision and evaluation of lay counselors
be the finest it can be given the excellent resources available from
conservative scholars on the subject. In this regard, developing
programs, current programs and proposed programs for lay counseling
need to be evaluated according to well thought-out theology and
The project is intended to
answer one central questions: To what extent is the selection,
training, supervision and evaluation of lay counselors effective in
the lay counseling program at Crossroads Community Church? This
project will look at these four areas of lay counseling to determine
any possible changes that would improve the overall program. The
research and conclusions will suggest applications for other lay
counselor programs in other churches.
B. Rationale for the Project
project fits the research category of a program evaluation. The
project is meant to identify areas of strength and weakness in
the overall lay counseling ministry at Crossroads Community Church. It will
provide evaluation and suggest other resources to measure each of
the four categories mentioned above. Methods for implementing changes to
the program will be developed in the
research. Testing and evaluation will be made to determine the effectiveness
and efficiency of the program at Crossroads.
After concentrating on evangelism and missions, busy churches have
little time, money or energy to do research on lay counseling.
Research is needed which has behind it the experimentation to direct
church staff toward an effective, biblical, lay counseling program. By
using this research project as a guide, church staff can stay on
target regarding efficient use of resources. They can remain biblical,
effective and flexible regarding the needs of the lay counselors and
review of biblical counseling literature reveals a paucity of
information regarding techniques and approaches to train church
members in effective, biblical lay counseling. Some tried and proven
approach to the problem must be in the hands of the church staff
member in charge of pastoral care.
Whether we are considering a large church with multiple staff and a
well--developed pastoral care department or a single staff church, a
minister can multiply himself many times over if he can train church
members to give effective, biblical lay counseling. When a pastor, for
example, attempts to counsel members himself, several outcomes are
likely to occur. First, he is taking time directly away from Bible
study, prayer, fellowship, administration, recreation, and family
time. Second, those he counsels may eventually feel uncomfortable with
him as their pastor due to how much he knows of the intimate details
of their life. They may eventually leave the church or cause trouble
with the pastor or other members.
single staff pastor, as well as the multiple staff minister in the
department of pastoral care, need a concise, well developed manuscript
to follow in training others to take over counseling duties. Any
minister who is forced to search through volumes of counseling books
and eventually develop a lay counseling manual or program, must
necessarily neglect his other duties. This project will produce a list
of tests and methods and their expected impact to shorten the search
of the pastor who is setting up, developing or changing a lay
C. The Basic
project will examine four assumptions concerning lay counseling in the
context of the lay counseling program at Crossroads.
The process for selecting lay counselors is an essential ingredient
for a successful biblical lay counseling program.
well-organized training program for potential, as well as existing,
lay counselors is essential for a successful lay counseling program.
consistent, intense, personal supervision process is necessary in
order to help lay counselors constantly improve their skills and
regular, periodic, formal evaluation process is important to provide
self--reflection for the lay counselor as well as an accountability
tool for the supervisor.
intent is to apply the research of eminent scholars to the areas of
selection, training, supervision, and evaluation of lay counselors in
order to reveal and suggest changes to improve the effectiveness and
stability of the counseling program at Crossroads Community Church. No
follow-up research will be done to see if and how much these changes
did, in fact, produce the desired outcome. If, over the years only a
few counselors can be disqualified before they are trained or before
they begin to counsel, this project will have completed its job. In
the same way, if some counselors can be trained, supervised, and
evaluated in a way that procures better results for the counselor,
client, and the church, the research will have been successful. The
project is also intended as a guide to other churches involved in
setting up, changing or developing a biblical lay counselor program.
title of the project is: An Examination of Biblical Lay Counseling
at Crossroads Community Church.
Lay counseling refers to those church members who are
not paid staff. They are saints being equipped for the work of the
ministry and in no way subservient to “clergy" or paid staff members.
Counseling refers to any encounter between a church
member and a counselee whether or not they have formalized the
relationship by setting parameters or meeting times. Counseling has
been defined by Dr. Gary Collins as "a caring relationship in which
one person tries to help another deal more effectively with the
stresses of life.”1
Counselee refers to those who approach the church
with a personal or family problem, whether or not they are taken into
Biblical counseling refers to the use of biblical
principles or Bible verses in the counseling milieu. It is
distinguished from secular or psychological counseling by the model it
uses and by the stated premises.
Super-vision is defined as, "...an intensive,
interpersonally focused, one-to-one, [or one to many] relationship in
which one person is designated to facilitate the development of
therapeutic competence in the other person [or persons].”2
We must not neglect the "supervisory" aspects of reliance on the Holy
Spirit. This Project will research the work of two other theorists in
particular who dwell on the importance of the Holy Spirit: Jay Adams
and John MacArthur.
R. Collins, Innovative Approaches to Counseling
(Waco, TX: Word, 1986), 73.
2 Ibid., p. 125.
and Theological Issues
biblical issue that presents itself is that of the sufficiency of
Christ as opposed to "method" in counseling. The works of John
MacArthur mitigate against the use of psychology and method in
counseling. In the project, we must address MacArthur's concerns to
see how the counseling ministry at Crossroads compares to MacArthur's
The second issue
is that of being guided by the Holy Spirit as opposed
to being guided by statistics and research methodology. To answer this
question we will proceed along the lines of research methodology while at
the same time being guided by the Holy Spirit. The
question then is, "How does one know that he is guided
by the Holy Spirit?" If the counselors in the program use
sound, proven, biblical principles, pray and are accountable to the
church and to each other and their leaders, we will
assume that they are guided by the
Holy Spirit. Multiple are the scriptures that speak of a sound
mind which Christians are expected to use.
third theological issue is that of discipleship. The counselor and
those involved in this project must answer the questions, "How do good
Christian lay counseling and discipleship relate to each other?"
Currently, lay counselors see their clients for a maximum of seven to
eight times. At that time either the client is ready to exit
counseling or the lay counselor refers the client to a professional
counselor. If discipleship is an integral part of counseling, then we
must find a way for it to continue beyond formal counseling.
A. Subjects to
be Addressed in Literature Review
Selected program models for lay counselor training.
The psychology of biblical lay counseling.
Who should do counseling?
B. Resources Related
to the Topic
Literature on the subject of lay counseling naturally falls into two
categories: secular and Christian. First we will note some of the
secular works, then go to the Christian literature.
secular writers bear directly on the subject of lay biblical
counseling. Many of them, however, have made important contributions
of data and insight that inform this study.
Joint Commission on Mental Illness and
Health, Action for Mental Health. New York: Science Editions,
This study showed that vast numbers of individuals and couples went
directly to clergy for help rather than to mental help
Bergin and Lambert, "The Evaluation of
Therapeutic Outcomes," Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior
Change, 2nd ed., S. L. Garfield and A. E. Bergin. New York: 1978.
Bergin and Lambert report that 43 to 65 percent of patients "get
better" on their own with only friends, teachers, pastors, etc.,
helping them. Though the secular community may call this
"spontaneous remission," the Christian community recognizes the
value of the biblical, spiritual, and fellowship related therapeutic
Boser, E. G., "The Effect of Therapists'
Training on Group Therapeutic Outcome" Journal of Consulting
Psychology 30. 1966.
research showed that training could have no results or even have
negative results if the right conditions were met.
Carkhuff, R. R. and Truax, C. B., "Lay
Mental Health Counseling: The Effects of Lay Group Counseling,"
Journal of Consulting Psychology 29. 1965.
These studies reported that lay or paraprofessional counseling are
effective even when compared with professional counseling.
Durlak, J. A., "Comparative Effectiveness
of Paraprofessional and Professional Helpers," Psychological
Bulletin 86. 1979.
Durlak said that counselors could do better than paraprofessionals,
given the right circumstances. He concludes that "professional
mental health education, training and experience do not appear to be
necessary prerequisites for an effective helping person."
Dorchin, S. J., Modem Clinical
Psychology. New York: Basic Books, 1976.
Dorchin cites several potential problems with the use of lay
counselors: They feel, and are nonprofessional, they may have
trouble with role boundaries, they may try to do more than they are
able to do, they may not know what to do next.
Hansen, J. C.,
Stevic, R. R., and Warner, Jr., R. W., Counseling: Theory and
Process. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1972.
These authors compile a very exhaustive book on counseling
background. This book should mostly be used for reference. It is
most useful for definitions of counseling areas such as secular
models, processes, legal issues and values in counseling.
Adams, J. E.,
Competent to Counsel. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970.
Adams gives a convincing argument for Nouthetic Counseling.
He perhaps oversells his conviction that the counselor must be
almost perfect to begin lay counseling.
Adams, J. E.,
The Christian Counselor's Manual. Phillipsburg, NJ:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1973.
This work is a sequel to Competent to Counsel. Adams gives
a reference section at the back to provide ready helps to pinpoint
possible causes of an biblical solutions for the problems that they
confront in the day-by-day work of counseling. He includes
check lists for procedures, failure, etc. For something so
subjective as Nouthetic Christian Counseling, this may be much too
pedantic. Adams is open for much criticism.
Adams, J. E.,
What About Nouthetic Counseling? Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian
and Reformed Publishing Co., 1976.
This book simply answers some of the more important questions about
Adams, J. E.,
Matters of Concern to Christian Counselors. Grand Rapids: Baker
Book House, 1979.
Volume II answers some "off-the-wall" questions that novice lay
counselors may ask: “Is Transactional Analysis OK?” and “Does the
behaviorist have a mind?” are just two unlikely questions that could
Allen, C. L.,
God's Psychiatry. New York: Pyramid Books, 1953.
Allen looks at the Twenty-Third Psalm, The Ten Commandments, The
Lord's Prayer and The Beatitudes. He looks not at the words but at
the thoughts. Much of the material in this little book could be used
by lay counselors.
Berkley, J. D.,
Called into Crisis. Dallas: Word, 1989.
Berkley names many of the more common crises and shows how lay
persons are called to minister to these. He goes on to show how the
lay person can be there for follow-up where, on the other hand, the
professional would not likely be there.
Brister, C. W.,
People Who Care. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1967.
Brister shows that we need to stay alert to how persons around us
suffer and are threatened in daily existence. There is no one more
in touch with these people than the lay counselor.
Collins, G. R.,
Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide. Dallas: Word,
Collins 700-page volume is truly comprehensive. The book revolves
around issues. Almost any issue likely to be covered in lay
counseling is covered in this book. The lay reader would find it
labor-intensive to read. It remains a must for reference work.
Collins, G. R.,
Innovative Approaches to Counseling. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
Collins condenses much into his book. He outlines the goals of
counseling plus presents an explanation for the fight between
Christianity and psychology. Next, he shows us what we need to know
about people in order to counsel them. He condenses good theology
and practicality into a very short and easily memorized model for
counseling that is even compatible with J. E. Adams or John
The Counselor in Counading. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1952.
Hiltner gives many case notes in this volume. Even though it was
published long ago it remains valuable to a lay counselor, asking
“What do I say in counseling?”
Holmes III, U.
T., The Priest in Community. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.
Holmes develops the concept of priest from the earliest roots and
shows how each of us is “priest.” A must for developing the
foundational aspects of lay counseling.
J., Our Sufficiency in Christ. Dallas: Word, 1991.
MacArthur and many other conservative Christian authors make a
strong case for rejecting much professional counseling in favor of a
totally Christian and biblical approach, one usable by the lay
Minirth, F. B.,
and Meier, P.D., Counseling and the Nature of Man. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982.
These two authors squeeze much into this book. The book contains a
very comprehensive description of the secular models of counseling
as well as a very well developed section of the skills of the
Meier, P. D., and
Minirth, F. B., Introduction to Psychology and Counseling.
Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991.
far as this study is concerned, Minirth and Meier's book should
mostly be used as a reference book. They do, however, give some wise
counsel on limits for the lay counselor on when to refer to
Oats, W. E.,
The Religious Care of the Psychiatric Patient. Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1978.
This book is included for at least two reasons. First, everyone
should read Oates. Second, Oates lists some characteristics of a
healthy religious faith. Lay persons especially need to know what is
healthy and what is not so that they can make a more healthy
decision about referral. Stone, H. W., Crisis Counseling.
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976. Lay counselors are more likely
to be called into crisis counseling because they are likely to be
“on scene.” Stone explains the dynamics of a crisis as well as
points to a method for intervention. Finally, he cites the church as
the caring community.
Psychology and Christianity," 6, no. 2, 1987: 1-84.
This is a special issue of the journal and has been produced to
emphasize Christian counseling, though not solely lay counseling.
Design of the Study
evaluating the lay counseling program at Crossroads Community Church,
this study will look at four areas: the literature, the staff, the
counselors and the program. In doing so, it will look at the
selection, training, supervision and evaluation of the lay counselors
as well as the whole counseling program. It will look at what the
“experts” say are the main issues of concern in a lay counseling
program in a local church. It will look at the needs of the
counselors, the needs of the church and the community, as well as
study will use two grids. A learning, psychological screen will be
used to determine which elements of the program are able to be
improved. A learning philosophical screen will be used to determine if
these elements should be improved. This study will identify and
justify what is done and why it is done.
approach of S. Y. Tan draws heavily from three main sources: Jay
Adam's Nouthetic Counseling, Gary Collins' People
Helping, and Larry Crabb's Biblical Counseling. Tan sees
three major models available for establishing a ministry of lay
Christian counseling: Informal Spontaneous, Informal Organized and
Formal Organized.3 The design of this study is to quickly
discern which model is seen at the church under study, then to
evaluate how well that church follows that model using the insight
gleaned from the “experts” on the subject such as Tan, Crabb, Adams,
Collins, Minirth and Meier and others.
3 S. Y. Tan, Lay Counseling: Equipping
Christians for a Helping Ministry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), p. 125.
Initial research indicates Crossroads Community Church definitely
follows the formal, organized model due to its structure, training and
counseling location. This study will choose at least three eminent
scholars and evaluate how well Crossroads follows the “musts” of these
scholars' recommendations. By selecting at least three scholars and
evaluating how well Crossroads follows their model and essentials, it
is hoped that an honest, worthy, broad-based evaluation will result.
This project will determine how well the selection, training,
supervision and evaluation of the counselors is done. To determine
this, once again we look at the “musts” listed by at least three
eminent scholars. There are two ways of doing this checking. One is to
simply read the literature and then observe the counseling program at
Crossroads. Another method is to administer the tests mentioned by the
scholars. In this study, we plan to do both.
This project will focus on the process of lay counselor development.
The literature indicates four essential elements in the lay counselor
1. Selection: The literature recommends a variety of tests
for screening lay counselors such as the Taylor-Johnson Temperament
Analysis, the Shepherd Scale, the Spiritual Well Being Scale, the
Character Assessment Scale, the Wagner-Revised Houts Questionnaire,
the Spiritual Life Check-Up Questionnaire and the Spiritual Leadership
2. Training: Scholars such as Dr. Jay Adams, Dr. Gary
Collins, Dr. Larry Crabb, Dr. S. Y. Tan and Dr. Kenneth Haugh provide
extensive research on models and evaluative methods of training
programs. The Project will research the training models of these
authors and others to develop a criteria by which to evaluate the lay
counseling program at Crossroads Community Church.
3. Supervision: This researcher assumes that Crossroads
Community Church has a well-established supervision program in effect.
This project proposes to look at some of the outstanding work that has
been done on the subject, then pass Crossroad’s supervision program
through this grid to determine what changes should be suggested. Some
of the supervision models discovered in the literature include: the
Minimum Intervention Model, the Vertical Supervision Model, the
Professional Training Model and the Implicit Trust Model. Dr. Gary
Collins indicates that good supervision will inherently contain some
“discipleship training.”4 This study will look for evidence
of discipleship at Crossroad’s supervisory training meetings.
4. Evaluation of Lay Counselors: There has been little
research done in the area of evaluation of lay counselor
effectiveness. Dr. S. Y. Tan suggests that evaluation of lay
counselors should be conducted by all leaders involved in the training
and super-vision of lay counselors, with an emphasis on knowledge and
skill acquired through the available program. Tan suggests several
methods for evaluating lay counselors, including the Hill Counselor
Verbal Response Category system and the Personal Orientation
Inventory, which rely on self-reporting, written responses by the lay
counselors to counseling situations, peer ratings and professional
counselor ratings.5 Another useful tool may be the
Counselor Training Program Questionnaire (CTPQ) as a pre-training and
post-training questionnaire. The Helping Relationship Inventory may
also be a useful tool for evaluation. Dr. Gary Collins indicates that
he knows “...of no competent research study that investigates the
effectiveness of lay counseling among Christians.”6 This study will examine
the lay counselor evaluation process at Crossroads Community church.
4 G. R. Collins,
“Lay Counseling Within the Local Church,” Leadership, 1, 1980, p. 78.
5 S. Y. Tan, Lay Counseling: Equipping Christians for a
Helping Ministry, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), p. 162.
6G. R. Collins, “Lay Counseling: Some Lingering Questions
for Professionals,” Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 6, no. 2,
1987, p. 7.
study will examine some of the procedures used at Crossroads Community
Church to accomplish the process of selection, training, supervision
and evaluation of lay counselors. Procedures to be examined will
include the following methods discovered by this researcher as of the
writing of this proposal.
1. Selection: The selection process includes a general
announcements of 12-week biblical counseling classes, a conscientious
seeking of potential lay counselors by the instructor in the 12-week
biblical counseling class, various letters sent out to those who
complete the 12-week class, and interviews with potential lay
2. Training: The training program includes an initial 12-week
course on biblical counseling, ongoing monthly supervisory training
sessions, and winter retreats.
3. Supervision: The only supervision discovered to date is
the monthly supervisory training sessions.
4. Evaluation of Lay Counselors: The majority of evaluation
seems to happen at the monthly supervisory training sessions.
Other procedures will be included in this study as they are discovered
through the process of research.
The major intent of this Project is evaluation of the lay counseling
program at Crossroads Community Church. Methods to be used for
evaluation are described in the following:
1. Selection: The study will rely on interviews with members
of the pastoral counseling staff as well as students involved in the
initial 12-week class.
2. Training: This researcher will attend the 12-week biblical
counseling class, review teaching curriculum and interview both staff
3. Supervision: This researcher will attend several monthly
counselor supervisory training sessions and interview both staff and
existing lay counselors.
4. Evaluation of Lay Counselors: This phase of evaluation will
rely on interviews with staff and existing lay counselors.
1. Churches With Lay Counseling Programs
2. Post-Counseling Questionnaire
3. Sample Biblical Counselor Lesson
4. Sample Counseling Department Policy Statement
5. Counseling Release Form (other forms used in program)
Uniqueness of the Project
Many authors claim that little, if any, research has been done on the
effectiveness of lay counseling in the local church. Furthermore, even
less research has been done at Crossroads. Development of the lay
counseling program at Crossroads has proceeded along the lines of good
church management and growth, but at several levels, staff members, as
well as counselors, have lamented that if they were to develop a lay
counseling program from scratch, they would do it differently.
Interviews with those staff members and others need to take place to
determine what these differences are.
project takes the best from the more prominent authors and applies it
to the lay counseling program; namely, examinations and tests of the
potential lay counselors, the training techniques, supervision and
evaluation procedures. Examination of dissertations done in the last
twenty years in the western states shows nothing close to this