Analysis of Neil Anderson’s Discipleship Counseling Giles Sieburg Liberty University

This papers desire is to expose the current system of normative Christian counseling and reveal the need and importance of community based counseling. This paper does not seek to be divisive but.ANALYSIS OF NEIL ANDERSON’S DISCIPLESHIP COUNSELING Abstract 2 This paper will expound on the topic of discipleship counseling. Far too long has the counseling process ignored the impact and effect of the community in the life of the counselee. and the lack of certain elements of said proposed counseling strategy. In modern mainstream counseling there has been an over emphasis in the individual within the counseling process. . Anderson’s work typifies the individualized Christian counseling approach. The paper will explain the importance of a communal approach to counseling and how and where the strategy of Anderson’s therapy model lacks said approach. merely sees an imbalance concerning the process of counseling and longs for a healthy middle ground to be established.

Anderson (2003) believes that one of the keys to discipleship counseling is the involvement of God. 2003. “they can do nothing that will last for eternity.”(Pg. Westerns are increasingly more individualized. “is counseling individualistic?” but it becomes.” (Pg.96) Anderson shows that within Christian counseling the basis is that God is the only one who can make lasting change. the counselors follow suit and counsel for the perspective of the day. and work form a new vision of human beings and their relationship with each other and with God. Pg. (Pg. Therefore. “Prior to 1950. (Wilson. (Wilson. Jean Vanier (1979) defines community as. However.”(Pg. “how is Christian counseling . and are becoming more and more less communal. in the past forty years the individual has taken on greater power and authority. and the community has paid accordingly.96) Anderson (2003) goes on to state that Christians know that.ANALYSIS OF NEIL ANDERSON’S DISCIPLESHIP COUNSELING 3 Anderson’s work Discipleship Counseling (2003) is an approach to counseling that seeks to create disciples and also to help counselee’s with their issues. It seems to be the case that therapy is actually “contributing to individualism”. North American culture was much more community centered. To start understanding the importance of a Christian community based therapy approach it is important to define community. This paper will set out to explain that God’s primary involvement in the individual’s life is not through one on one interaction. Pg. and that without God’s involvement there is an element missing from the healing process in this life. “groupings of people who have left their own milieu to live with others under the same roof. 10-11) The reason that community based approach has been ignored or been missed is the overarching atmosphere in western civilization. 25) What can be interpretated from this quote is that Western Culture has gone from a communal perspective to an individualized perspective. 2003. 24) Wilson states this plainly in his work Counseling and Community by saying. but through his vehicle of transformative change the Church. 39) Therefore the question no longer is.

257) What this show us is that God has always had community as its focus.60) The model from which Anderson speaks states that discipleship or freedom from sin come about from. Pg.” (Pg.309) This realization of the individualized Christian therapy approach must lead to a wellinformed change in the direction of community. but this is only shares a vertical connects and does not prize a horizontal connect with people. it is not a biblical discipleship. 60) The meaning behind this is that if discipleship is merely a person journey with God. Anderson reveals that this approach to counseling finds the relationship with deity being the more important goal a counselor has. “The Scriptures assert that God’s goal is redeemed people living within a renewed creation enjoying fellowship with a Triune God. The first… is according to human tradition and basic principles…Salvation brings forgiveness of sins and spiritual life ‘in Christ’ which means that our soul is once again in union with God. This shows us that the individualistic culture that Westerns are apart of is reading the bible with similar glasses. (Anderson. 2003. Pg. 2003. (Wilson. and then life with God will be manifested within them. as opposed to a balanced view focusing on community and God. 121) Anderson opens up and describes discipleship counseling to be primarily different from secular counseling because it connects people to God.” (Pg. It is commitment to discipleship within a faith community. The reason is that discipleship was always meant to be within a “faith community”. In order for a communal approach to therapy to work counselors as a whole must . “Conversion is not simply and individual experience. Wilson (2003) states that. “helping them get right with God. “This…reveals the difference between discipleship counseling and secular counseling.ANALYSIS OF NEIL ANDERSON’S DISCIPLESHIP COUNSELING individualistic?” 4 Anderson (2003) makes a clear distinction from secular therapy by stating the following.”(Pg. Grenz (1998) shares a crucial key to any Christian counselor trying to connect people to God’s plans by saying.

What this approach misses is that it is not always what the person believes that causes issues a lot of times it is the community that they are attached which perpetuates that issues in this individuals life.”(Pg. and then puts stock in this having there defenses come down in order get to the issues. Therefore what is the particular job of the counselor within the communal approach? The job is to “conceptualize their intrapsychic issues in a corporate framework. 159) This perspective shows that what it most important is first that they understand a theology of how God views them.” (Pg. and that mankind is nothing. A lot of said person problems can arise from an unhealthy community. Wilson (2003) shares this belief by stating. Anderson (2003) shows this when he states.” (Wilson. . it was clear that the meaning she brought to spiritual issue was heavily influenced by that particular church. 161) Christian counseling must always connect its counselee’s to the purpose of God for them. and then pushing them into an individualized relationship with God. “Once they have been accepted and affirmed. In order to move on. Communities shape the person who is within them.ANALYSIS OF NEIL ANDERSON’S DISCIPLESHIP COUNSELING 5 understand and buy into the concept of community. 161) Far to much of Anderson’s material is concerned with correcting the counselee’s theology. If a person struggles with feelings of forgiveness and they are apart of a Christian community that is focused on sinners. she needed to bring those concerns to the surface. Anderson (2003) shows that correcting ones theology then leads into a deeper counseling. 2003. and the community at large must be addressed as causing strife within the person. (Wilson. Pg. but dirty rags to God in their sinful state. “As we talked about Rachel’s communal experience. 161) Wilson (2003) shares that the counselor’s job is not to talk about theology and biblical data. then counseling this person must keep this reality at the forefront of therapy. Pg. their identity and sense of worth intact…Now their defenses come down and they are open to resolve whatever is keeping them from finding freedom in Christ. 2003.

43) This means that in order to engage with other and within community it is only when the individual desires it. Grenz (1998) states that.” (Wilson. and God chooses the church as the means by which he heals the broken world. Pg. 2003. “God saves us together not in isolation. What this produces is the mentality that. a people. when God’s way of being in relationship with them is there relationship with the community. which is a lens of individualism. and not the means by which this person experiences change.” (Pg. but this only produces a portion of the picture of what it means to change as people. The Scriptures as a whole show God’s interaction and preoccupation with a grouping of people Israel and the Church. This church is a community. The focus of Anderson’s type of counseling is one that prizes self-actualization and introspection as ways to change with the help of God’s involvement. 214) The key that is crucial to accepting the change in counseling from individual to communal rest in an awareness to the lenses from which mainstream counselors read. And He saves us for community. a community. “my own individuality becomes the prerequisite for connecting with others. not out of it. In summation of this material it seems obvious that Anderson model of therapy represents one that although striving for being biblical ends up being unbiblical because of its emphasis on the individual. and therefore a connection to God is a connection to a community and living life with said community. his heart is with a body-a fellowship. With this understanding in mind counseling an individual with just there personal issue in mind does a disservice to Christian . Wilson (2003) puts it succinctly that.ANALYSIS OF NEIL ANDERSON’S DISCIPLESHIP COUNSELING 6 When we see that community is crucial for the make-up of the counselee it opens up a new passageway into the act of helping them. “While God prizes a relationship with individuals. Counselors do their clients a disservice promoting a faith that is focus primarily on the individual because it causes the counselee to continue to look inwardly and to focus on their relationship to God. This is not congruent with the reality of the Bible.

People are in need of community. Real change comes from a counselor leading a counselee into community and encouraging transparency and communal life with people in the community. and an easily frustrated person. and the daily interactions with people who are for them. When counseling is fragmented into an act of counselor counselee only it causes a lack of roots. Therefore perpetuating a counseling motif that is focused on the individual is a false dichotomy that does not bring the fullest amount of healing. Healing within an individual comes from a realization of purpose within a community. and with them. References . and individualism is not the ideal of God’s kingdom.ANALYSIS OF NEIL ANDERSON’S DISCIPLESHIP COUNSELING 7 counseling and to the counselee.

Vanier.Y. Grand Rapids. J.). Wilson.: Regal. N. (1979). (2003). Community & growth: our pilgrimage together. Ventura. R. MI: Baker Books. Grenz. (2003). S. Calif. . New York..: Paulist Press. N. Created for community: connecting Christian belief with Christian living ([2nd ed. (1998). T. Discipleship counseling. Vancouver: Regent College Pub.ANALYSIS OF NEIL ANDERSON’S DISCIPLESHIP COUNSELING 8 Anderson. J. Counseling and community: using church relationships to reinforce counseling.

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