In a previous issue of PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter (V6N5) we mentioned seven serious issues related to the biblical counseling movement that we predicted would never be discussed at NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counseling). The first of these seven issues was "Charging for biblical counseling."
The 1999 NANC annual conference is scheduled for October 4-6 in Denton, Texas. Much to our surprise and delight, even though it will probably never be the subject of a plenary session talk or discussed at a plenary session, at least a workshop on charging is being offered. Sid Galloway will be teaching the workshop, titled "Should Biblical Counselors Charge Fees?" Galloway has already addressed this issue on his web site <http://www.soulcare.org/money%26ministry.htm>. The title of his web site article is the same as his NANC talk. Galloway asks, "Is charging fees for counseling a reflection of Christs ministry, or could it be a cultural convention absorbed from the worlds business system?" Galloway has italicized three words to emphasize what he addresses in the remainder of his article. It is clear from his article that Galloway believes that it is unbiblical to charge for biblical counseling and that it smacks of the worlds business system. We would say that it smacks of the psychology industry.
Currently three biblical counseling organizations seem to have a close working relationship with one another. They are NANC, BCF (Biblical Counseling Foundation), and IABC (International Association of Biblical Counselors). None of these organizations has publicly made a big issue of charging for ministry nor exposed for criticism individuals and organizations that do. Even the biblical counseling organizations that have a no-charge position will not publicly criticize those who do.
One of the organizations that has financially benefited from the unbiblical practice of charging is the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). One year CCEF reported an income of $500,000. Two of the speakers at the NANC conference from CCEF are David Powlison and Tedd Tripp. However, this practice is quite prolific among biblical counselors and there are no doubt millions of dollars that change hands from clients to counselors in the business of biblical counseling. Many biblical counselors do not charge a fee. However, too many of them encourage donations and some even quote the size of the expected donation per session. The voluntary donation is one thing, but to encourage donations and specify amounts per session is unbiblical.
We have given our reasons in past issues of PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter. If those who counsel desire to be truly biblical they should let their fellow believers who come to them for "counsel" know that they do not charge; nor do they expect or encourage specific donations. However, we do not have a problem if the individual receiving ministry contributes voluntarily (without suggestion or coercion) to the church providing the ministry and if the person who is giving such ministry is not told the amount or even that a donation was given.
The counseling organizations that do not deal publicly with the grossly unbiblical practice of charging for biblical counseling will remain immature and ineffective. And, while these men and women may come together for feel-good fellowship, there is a cancer within their midst that needs to be excised to open the way for real biblical ministry as Christ desired when he sent His disciples forth saying, "freely ye have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:8). Can the biblical counseling movement mature to this level? We wait to hear about Sid Galloways presentation and the response to it. However, too many biblical counseling organizations like CCEF and too many biblical counselors have become too addicted to the income and too rationalized in their position for much change to occur. Maybe Galloways presentation will only be a small step forward for the moment, but we pray it will lead to a giant leap forward in the future.
PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera
Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110