Jonathan Holmes, Executive Director at Fieldstone Counseling
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is this, “How do you launch a counseling center?” If you had asked me that question nearly six years ago, I would have struggled to put together an informed response. Despite that, Fieldstone Counseling was launched in January of 2017, and it was officially incorporated in August of that year. How did that come about, and more importantly why did it come about?
In the fall of 2015, the staff and elder team of Parkside Green spent a day away praying and imagining a future where our church could have an impact for the gospel in our community. Parkside’s mission is to see unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus Christ. We desired to reach our community with the hope of the gospel—that Christ Jesus saves sinners!
After many conversations and the identification of several objectives, it became clear that one of the ways we could reach and have an impact for our community was through faith-based counseling. Parkside Church Bainbridge and Green had a strong lay counseling ministry, and we received numerous requests on a regular basis for counseling from both the community and other local churches. Having to turn those requests away was both heartbreaking and disheartening, but also served as a stark reminder of the immense need there was for biblical counseling in our area.
In the summer of 2016, myself and one of my interns (now colleague and fellow counselor), Crystal Kershaw, embarked on a robust study and examination of counseling center models both locally and abroad. We surveyed the counseling centers we believed were striving hard and well to offer solid counsel to those in need of help. We interviewed, we read, we researched. We endeavored to learn from their mistakes as well as benefit from their knowledge. During that time, those people were incredibly gracious with both their time and information. By the end of the summer, Crystal had a well-composed overview of the landscape of biblical and Christian counseling, and we felt confident we could put together a model based here in Northeast Ohio.
In January of 2017, we earnestly began the process of laying the groundwork for Fieldstone. Over the next six months, there was a flurry of meetings, numerous amounts of paperwork, and a ton of prayer that went into preparing everything necessary to launch a counseling center. This entailed partnering with a local firm in our area (Each + Every) to research and design our logo, name, branding, and website. From applying to the IRS for our non-profit status to forming a board of directors to govern Fieldstone, the workload to prepare Fieldstone was immense, but also a joy. To this day, we are grateful for the many individuals who played a part in helping us lay that solid foundation.
When we officially opened our doors for counseling (presently at our Green Office) we were not sure what to expect. We had a small team of counselors (six total) and no staff! Within days, requests for counseling came in, and as they say—the rest is history. In those first few months, the learning curve was steep and yet the excitement was real. We believed in Fieldstone’s vision and mission:
Offering lasting hope through life’s hardships
through biblically based, Christ centered, and clinically-informed counseling
Since our opening, the growth has been steady and at times more than we ever anticipated. We quickly grew from one location in Green to adding three other locations—Fieldstone Lakewood, Fieldstone Bainbridge, and Fieldstone Lake County. Our small team of counselors grew from 6 to 23, and we now have a wonderful administrative staff of nearly a dozen individuals who help support the work of our counselors behind the scenes.
My team is frequently (consistently and constantly you might say) in awe of what the Lord is doing at Fieldstone. We echo the words of the psalmist, “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Ps. 118:23) Our counselors, staff, and board (now 8 members strong) are committed now more than ever to offering quality counseling to our community, our state, and our world. Fieldstone Counselors now offer on average 700 sessions a month to people locally and across the globe.
Fieldstone counselors provide and consult with churches, organizations, and schools to help in a variety of ways. From complex case consultation to working with other churches to help grow lay counseling ministries, our counselors stand ready to help. We love and support the local church in all we do. We understand and realize that the local church is a primary location and vehicle for God to grow his people. We weep and rejoice when those we counsel come to saving faith in Christ, and we mourn and grieve when those broken by sin and suffering come through our doors.
What we once believed would be a counseling center for the Akron-Canton community has now expanded through the blessing of the Lord. Our staff and counselors remind each other regularly that apart from Christ and his word, we have nothing! Our strength and counsel come from him. Our prayer is that when people leave their sessions with us, they comment not on how amazing we are…how wise we are…or even how clever we are…but on how amazing the person and work of Jesus Christ is! That is our ultimate hope!
Jonathan Holmes is the Founder and Executive Director of Fieldstone Counseling.