Last week was an unusual week for me. Work usually consists of drinking lots of coffee, reading books, meeting with people, counseling, writing lessons, teaching, drinking more coffee and reading more books. Last week I still drank lots of coffee but I spent most of every day recording lessons on camera. Cornerstone Counseling Ministry hired a professional videographer to help us put together a Counseling DVD series on anxiety. I am super excited to share more about this project with my readers.
Cornerstone Counseling Ministry (CCM) exists in order to “lead people to the hope, help, and healing of God’s transforming grace.” There are many ways that we seek to live up to this tagline. We offer formal counseling for individuals or couples. We offer support groups for those struggling with life-dominating sins and sorrows. We offer two seminars a year on specific topics to help people develop a plan for addressing these problems in their own lives. We offer loads of resources: books, workbooks, pamphlets, and booklets. I am grateful for all these resources, counselors, and facilitators. We have a great pool of counseling helps at Cornerstone, but I saw an opportunity to expand our resources through a DVD Curriculum.
The goal of this curriculum is both to help counselees and help churches. I recognize that not everyone is as interested in reading as I am. I devour books as quickly as I can. I read for work, I read for fun, and I read for education. It’s my job and my hobby to read. But I have had counseling scenarios where I assign a chapter from a book only to be met with frustration and discouragement. Not only do some people not like to read, but there are even some who struggle to read. Their comprehension skills aren’t great, or their recall is difficult, or they may even have literacy challenges. For others, the nature of their emotional struggles makes reading an even more cumbersome chore. It’s important, then, for counselors to be sensitive to these situations and creative in their assigning of homework and help. A DVD Curriculum can be a great way to engage those who might otherwise struggle with progress in a reading-only counseling situation. The curriculum we have devised comes with a workbook that will invite the counselee to do hard self-evaluative work, to answer questions about themselves, their thoughts, their desires, and their actions. It will offer them tools to help them cultivate godly thinking. The curriculum is not designed to be passively consumed, like watching a sit-com on TV, it will require real engagement, but it will be easier than reading a book. My hope is to bring some real options to counselors and counselees through the use of this material.
Secondly, we hope to be a real help to other churches through the development of this material. I recognize that not every church has the luxury of hiring a full-time counselor. I also recognize that many pastors are over-worked and stretched thin with regard to ministry. They preach three times a week, run multiple programs, and seek to develop leaders. Adding counseling to their plat is a real challenges. It’s necessary for them to care for their sheep well, but they may not have the time to learn how to counsel every person in every scenario. CCM wants to be a resources for churches. We do that through offering training seminars on our campus several times a year. We do that through inviting people to become trained counselors, sitting in on cases, observing and being supervised in counseling. We also offer a mobile training option for churches who want to bring our staff into their location to equip more of their people. But this curriculum will have direct influence on their counseling of their people. This curriculum can be used in lieu of specialized training. It can be a means to help equip pastors and lay leaders to know how to be helpful, but also serve as a guide for walking alongside someone who is struggling with a particular issue. We hope it can be useful to our fellow churches as they seek to care well for their own people.
Our long-term goal is to make one new curriculum every year. Each will focus on a particular struggle. This first DVD Curriculum highlighted the number one issue we are seeing: anxiety. Something like 40 million Americans admit to struggling with “chronic worry,” and we see it both within and outside the church. So, we’ve developed this curriculum to introduce people to the issue, the nature of the problem, the potential causes, and the help and hope that the Bible offers us to address it. Across 11 sessions, each 20-25 minutes in length, viewers will learn to analyze their fears, understand their origins, hear God’s promises, and restructure their lives for change. The outline of the curriculum consists of the following:
Part I: Listening to Our Fears
Session 1: What is Anxiety?
Worry is common to us all, and can be an appropriate emotion to motivate us to action. But not all worry is healthy. In this session we will learn to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy worry. We will identify common symptoms and practice some self-evaluation. We will also define anxiety according to the Bible and allow the Scriptural definition to set the standard.
Session 2: Analyzing Our Fears
Worry always says something. It’s important for us to take the time to listen to our fears. In this session we will explore some of the common themes that lie behind our worries. We will learn to take a “Fear Inventory” and assess what our own anxiety might be saying to us and about us.
Part II: Listening to God
Session 1: God Speaks About Fear
Having listened to our fears we must now listen to God. Fear is a deeply theological emotion, and God speaks truth back to it. In this lesson we will hear what God says about our common fears, how He provides hope and help in the midst of our anxiety.
Session 2: Four Paradigms for Facing Fear (Part 1)
There are a number of helpful frameworks that the Bible offers to help us think theologically about our fears. In this session we will consider two important frameworks drawn from unique Scriptural passages: A Vigilance framework.
Session 3: Four Paradigms for Facing Fear (Part 2)
There are a number of helpful frameworks that the Bible offers to help us think theologically about our fears. In this session we will consider two important frameworks drawn from unique Scriptural passages: A Mana framework.
Session 4: Four Paradigms for Facing Fear (Part 3)
There are a number of helpful frameworks that the Bible offers to help us think theologically about our fears. In this session we will consider two important frameworks drawn from unique Scriptural passages: A Humility framework.
Session 5: Four Paradigms for Facing Fear (Part 4)
There are a number of helpful frameworks that the Bible offers to help us think theologically about our fears. In this session we will consider two important frameworks drawn from unique Scriptural passages: A Kingdom framework.
Part III: Restructuring Our Lives to Fight Temptation
Session 1: Practical Strategies to Attack Anxiety
There are a number of practical things we can do to help us in the fight against anxiety. With the foundational issues in place we will now look at some of these practical steps. We will also learn to develop a life management plan to direct our efforts against anxiety.
Session 2: Taking Our Thoughts Captive
Since anxiety is a battle of the mind as much as of the body, we must also spend time considering how to fulfill Paul’s command in 2 Corinthians 10:5. We will consider practical strategies to wrestle our thoughts, including Scripture memorization and thankfulness.
Session 3: Love That Casts Our Fear
1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out fear. In this session we will consider both how God’s love for us can drive out fear, and how our tangible demonstrations of love for others can drive out fear. We will seek to identify how and for whom we can provide care.
Conclusion: The God of Peace
As this series concludes we will spend our time contemplating the God of peace who gives hope to the anxious soul.
The accompanying workbook will have exercises and guides for each of the sessions and will invite the reader into the process of self-analysis and restructuring. I am very excited about this material and hope that it will be of great use to our church and the broader Evangelical church. We are hoping to be able to make this resource available to the general public by December, with a full-promotion in January at our Annual Counseling Celebration Event. As we have opportunity to show off some of the work we will do so in the coming months.
We have already begun to look at next year’s topic and are considering the issue of pornography addiction and/or sexual sin. As this problem has become a plague in the church, we need to be better equipped to address it as well. But that has yet to be determined and we would welcome more input from the church and from fellow counselors and pastors. What issues are you seeing and what should be our next DVD Curriculum?