Content & Green Site Coordinator, Counselor
Last week the Fieldstone team had the opportunity to join with hundreds of other counselors and ministry leaders in Greensboro, North Carolina for the annual CCEF conference. CCEF stands for “Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation,” an organization providing resources and education within the biblical counseling community. Fieldstone’s Executive Director, Jonathan Holmes, currently serves on the CCEF Board of Directors, and was featured as one the speakers at the conference.
For many of our team members, this was one of the first large-scale events we have attended in the past two years due to the logistical and personal challenges of the COVID-era. Our enthusiasm about being together as a team in an environment like this was palpable. Some team members were joined by spouses and kids (and pets!) for road trips and Airbnb stays. We enjoyed meals together and lingered over coffee in the conference center lobby. Others, on our team, watched virtually from home, taking advantage of the flexibility of technology. We remain grateful to both CCEF for putting on this wonderful event, and to the Fieldstone board for making it possible for us to participate.
This year’s conference theme, Modern Problems: Caring For Souls in the 21st Century, provided our counselors with numerous choices of breakout sessions geared toward the complexities of counseling during this season. Issues like sexuality, social isolation, political and racial divisions, and many others, appear in the counseling room frequently. While there is truly “nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9), there is a uniqueness to the impact of technology on our problems. We possess both the ability to discover anything we want to know about any topic and connect with one another instantly via text, phone call, and email. Such unbridled access leads us to demand immediate answers, oftentimes coming to the counseling room with the same expectations.
The speakers at the CCEF conference did not shy away from these challenges, but engaged with compassion and clarity, helping us to think biblically and charitably about how we engage with others. Mike Emlet called us to “go near, go wide, and go long” when applying scripture to modern problems. Shai Linne powerfully outlined Philippians 4:2-3, weaving together careful application from modern conversations with expositional teaching that drew our hearts to walk in unity as an overflow of the gospel. These talks, and the many others, prompted us to consider: Where might I need to shore up my thinking in a particular area? What other tools do I need to add to my counseling toolbelt? How can I wisely engage with and apply scripture to the particular problem I’m hearing in the counseling room?
There were many other things that contributed to making the conference so meaningful, including the amply supplied (and heavily discounted) WTS bookstore on site. We returned home from North Carolina with many stories of learning and laughter from our time together. We also came back home with a distinct awareness of how dependent we remain upon the faithfulness of the Wonderful Counselor to equip and sustain us in this work. It is his timeless and unchanging presence that ultimately transforms lives, no matter the age in which we live.
Melissa Affolter has served in various aspects of counseling and discipleship ministries for nearly twenty years in the local church.