RAWLINGS SCHOOL OF DIVINITY

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

 

RAWLINGS SCHOOL OF DIVINITY

 

 

 

Community Relational Soul Care: A Transformational Paradigm for Restoring God’s

People to Spiritual Vitality

 

 

 

A Thesis Project Submitted to The Faculty of Rawlings School of Divinity

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree

 

 

DOCTOR OF MINISTRY

 

 

By

Julie A. Larsen

Lynchburg, VA

October, 2017

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2017 by Julie Larsen All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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Liberty University School of Divinity

 

 

 

 

Thesis Project Approval Sheet

 

 

 

 

 

______________________________

GRADE

 

 

______________________________

MENTOR, Dr. Michael C. Whittington, DMin Assistant Professor of Practical Studies

Liberty University School of Divinity

 

 

___________________________

READER, Dr. David W. Hirschman, DMin, PhD Associate Professor of Religion

Associate Dean Department of Community Care and Counseling School of Behavior Sciences

 

 

 

 

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ABSTRACT

COMMUNITY RELATIONAL SOUL CARE: A TRANSFORMATIONAL PARADIGM FOR RESTORING GOD’S PEOPLE TO SPIRITUAL VITALITY Julie A. Larsen Rawlings School of Divinity, 2017

Mentor: Dr. Michael Whittington, DMIN.

 

This ministry project is a transformational paradigm for relational soul care in a

community that partners with mentors to restore God’s children to spiritual vitality for the

fulfillment of His plan. The reason for this topic is that after counseling, people still need

continued soul care; without continued soul care, they falter, get frustrated, and fall back into

unhealthy behaviors. In this research approach, the care seeker is placed with a mentor and a

community fellowship group until they flourish in their time. The research method will be a

twenty-question Likert Scale Interview for two fellowship groups: men and women. The focus of

this thesis is believers who conjoin relational dimensions in cultivating God’s work in

community with spiritual fellowship and bond together through the trials of life as image-bearing

disciples. The potential value for this research is to ascertain whether community relational soul

care transforms Christians to spiritual vitality. In this project, the spiritual layers unfold through

the Epistles of John and discover the factors for restoration in spiritual areas of soul care and

development for spiritual vitality in relationships with God, others, and God-centered self in

community relational soul care.

Words 192

 

 

 

 

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Acknowledgements

To my Lord Jesus Christ: thank you for restoring me, loving me, teaching me, and

blessing me. At eighteen, I asked for wisdom and a heart for you and your people; thank you!

To my sons and their wives: Jesse and Maurine; James and Beth; and Riki and Jamie;

thank you for supporting me and giving me grandchildren, you have my heart!

To my grandchildren: Thyra (great-grandchild Samuel) and Jason Wilson, Kaelyn,

Joslyn, Landen, Ashton, Rayne, Magnolia (Nolie), Rayce, Hayley, and Thea; you are my world!

To my lifetime friends and family: Bonnie, Cheri, Kathy, and Donna; thank you!

To Dr. Michael C. Whittington: there are no words to express my gratitude as I will

always thank God for His favor to align me up with you as my professor, mentor, and spiritual

friend. Your heart of love for others and servanthood shines bright!

To Dr. David W. Hirschman: you put a diploma in my hand and spent several years of

being my professor, reader, and spiritual friend; thank you. Your comment for your students

being the “best they can be” is encouraging. As Dr. Barker said, “You are a Christian’s

Christian!”

To Dr. Ed. Hindson: thank you for many years of teaching me on the King is Coming that

led me to Liberty University. Your God-style of teaching is like no other; I learned so much!

To my editor: Evelyn Hylton; thank you! Also, to all my professors at Liberty University;

thank you for connecting my heart and mind studying for eight years that led to five degrees.

In memory of my grandparents: Peter and Anne; parents, Agnes and James David; sister,

Ellie; brother, Terry; thank you for your love and filling my heart with Jesus!

In memory of Dr. Charlie Davidson: I am honored to have known you; thank you

professor and spiritual friend. God took you home too soon, but you live on in many hearts!

 

 

 

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Contents

ABSTRACT …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. iv

Acknowledgements …………………………………………………………………………………………………………v

Contents ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. vi

List of Tables………………………………………………………………………………………x

Illustrations………………………………………………………………………………………xi

Chapter 1: Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………….1

Statement of Purpose ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..4

Special Terminology ………………………………………………………………………6

Statement of Limitations…………………………………………………………………..7

Theological Basis………………………………………………………………………….8

Statement of Methodology ………………………………………………………………17

Review of Literature………………………………………………………………………20

Chapter 2: Community Relational Soul Care…………………………………………………27

Community Relational Soul Care to Spiritual Vitality…………………………………. 29

Part 1: RELATE………………………………………………………………………….35

Relational Soul Care……………………………………………………………..37

Encouragement…………………………………………………………………..44

Love for One Another……………………………………………………………45

Accountability……………………………………………………………………48

Transformation……………………………………………………………………49

Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in God’s Word …………………………55

Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in Love for God, God’s Love ………….57

Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in Worship ……………………………..58

Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in Prayer ………………………………..61

 

 

 

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Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in Obedience …………………………..67

Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in Community Life …………………….69

Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in Service……………………………….72

Essentials for Spiritual Vitality Living in Mission………………………………72

Part 2: RESTORE Biblical Manual in Epistles 1, 2, 3 John………………………………73

1 John 1…………………………………………………………………………..77

Key Words in Text for Spiritual Vitality…………………………………80

Restore Living in Truth Application……………………………………..82

1 John 2…………………………………………………………………………..85

Key Words in Text for Spiritual Vitality.………………………………..86

Restore Living in Truth Application…………………………………….87

1 John 3………………………………………………………………………….89

Key Words in Text for Spiritual Vitality………………………………..89

Restore Living in Truth Application…………………………………….90

1 John 4………………………………………………………………………….91

Key Words in Text for Spiritual Vitality………………………………..92

Restore Living in Truth Application…………………………………….93

1 John 5………………………………………………………………………….95

Key Words in Text for Spiritual Vitality………………………………..96

Restore Living in Truth Application…………………………………….97

2 John……………………………………………………………………………98

Key Words in Text for Spiritual Vitality………………………………..98

Restore Living in Truth Application…………………………………….99

3 John……………………………………………………………………………100

Key Words in Text for Spiritual Vitality……………………………….101

 

 

 

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Restore Living in Truth Application……………………………………102

Chapter 3: Research Overview…………………………………………………………….…105

Research Method, Instrument Used, Participants……………………………………….105

Part 1: Relational Soul Care Questions…………………………………………………106

Research Questions Analysis: One to Twenty……………………………..106-133

Part 2: Relational Soul Care Questionnaire Research…………………………………,,134

Question One: Priority………………………………………………………….134

Question Two: Relationships with God and Others ……………………………135

Question Three: Shepherding One Another……………………………………137

Question Four: Missional, Kingdom-minded..…………………………………137

Question Five: Soul Care……………………………………………………….138

Question Six: Intentional Helping ……………………………………………..139

Question Seven: Spiritual Health ………………………………………………140

Question Eight: Spiritually Rejuvenated.….……………………………………142

Question Nine: Concerns for Others……………………………………………144

Question Ten: Church Attendance………………………………………………144

Question Eleven: Spiritual Development……………………………………….145

Question Twelve: Engage with the Bible……………………………………….146

Question Thirteen: Outings for Fellowship…………………………………….147

Question Fourteen: Emotional Support…………………………………………148

Question Fifteen: Grow in Faith………………………………………………..149

Question Sixteen: Social Support………………………………………………150

Question Seventeen: Relationships Add to Self-esteem or Identify……………150

Question Eighteen: Experiencing God………………………………………….150

Question Nineteen: Spiritual Gifts………………………………………………154

 

 

 

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Question Twenty: Relationships Develop Spiritual Vitality……………………155

Chapter 4: Research Summary and Conclusion ……………………………………………157

Research Results………………………………………………………………………..157

Soul Care Theological Foundation………………………………………………………159

Part One: Community Relational Soul Care Fellowship RELATE…………………….161

Example Case study for Soul Care Fellowship………………………………….163

Part Two: Community Relational Soul Care Biblical Manual RESTORE……………..166

Example Case Study for Care Seeker’s Bible Study with Application.………..170

Appendix A: Community Relational Soul Care Questionnaire Example..……………………..174

Appendix B: PowerPoints.………………………………………………………………………177

Bibliography.………….………………………………………………………………………….194

IRB Approval……………………………………………………………………………………203

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tables

1.1. Twenty Elements of Prayer…………………………………………………………………62

1.2. Pattern of the Lord’s Prayer………………………………………………………………63

1.3. Scripture Study……………………………………………………………………………..81

1.4. Scripture Study……………………………………………………………………………..82

1.5. Scripture Study……………………………………………………………………………86

1.6. Scripture Study…………………………………………………………………………….89

1.7. Scripture Study…………………….………………………………………………………90

1.8. Scripture Study…….………………………………………………………………………92

1.9. Scripture Study…………………………………………………………………………….96

1.10. Scripture Study…………………………………………………………………………..99

1.11. Scripture Study………………………………………………………………………….101

1.12. The Spirit of the Lord……………………………………………………………………143

1.13. God-centered Living……………………………………………………………………152

1.14. Self-centered Living…………………………………………………………………….152

1.15. Matthew 22:37-39………………………………………………………………………160

1.16. RELATE with Core Essentials…………………………………………………………162

1.17. RESTORE Spiritual Vitality……………………………………………………………169

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Illustrations

Figures

1. Herbert Lockyer, “JESUS,” All the Teachings of Jesus 36

2. Julie Larsen, “RELATE Acrostic” 37

3. Julie Larsen, “Ingredients for Spiritual Vitality,” Spiritual Vitality 46

4. Everett Worthington, “LOVE Acrostic,” Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling 48

5. Robert Kellerman, “GRACE,” Spiritual Friends 52

6. Everett Worthington, “REACH Acrostic,” “Helping People Forgive” 66

7. Julie Larsen, “RESTORE Acrostic” 75

8. Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, “Characteristics of Love,” Biblical Counseling 94

9. Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, “Love Qualities,” Biblical Counseling 95

10. Kenneth Boa, “Living Life Together in Community,” Conformed to His Image 104

11. Julie Larsen, “Men Question One”1 107

12. “Women Question One” 107

13. “Men Question Two” 108

14. “Women Question Two” 108

15. “Men Question Three” 109

16. “Women Question Three” 109

17. “Men Question Four” 111

18. “Women Question Four” 111

19. “Men Question Five” 112

20. “Women Question Five” 112

1 All subsequent illustrations are by the author, Julie Larsen

 

 

 

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21. “Men Question Six” 113

22. “Women Question Six” 114

23. “Men Question Seven” 115

24. “Women Question Seven” 115

25. “Men Question Eight” 117

26. “Women Question Eight” 117

27. “Men Question Nine” 118

28. “Women Question Nine” 118

29. “Men Question Ten” 119

30. “Women Question Ten” 120

31. “Men Question Eleven” 121

32. “Women Question Eleven” 121

33. “Men Question Twelve” 123

34. “Women Question Twelve” 123

35. “Men Question Thirteen” 124

36. “Women Question Thirteen” 124

37. “Men Question Fourteen” 125

38. “Women Question Fourteen” 125

39. “Men Question Fifteen” 126

40. “Women Question Fifteen” 127

41. “Men Question Sixteen” 128

42. “Women Question Sixteen” 128

43. “Men Question Seventeen” 129

 

 

 

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44. “Women Question Seventeen” 129

45. “Men Question Eighteen” 130

46. “Women Question Eighteen” 130

47. “Men Question Nineteen” 132

48. “Women Question Nineteen” 132

49. “Men Question Twenty” 133

50. “Women Question Twenty” 133

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter 1

Introduction

The appearance of the Dayspring from on High on the horizon of human history was not without human effect. Its shining is the light to reveal our sin. Its warmth is the source to revitalize us in our sorrow. Its beacon redirects our steps. But the ultimate effect of its appearance is the redemption of our soul.

—Elmer L. Towns, A Journey Through the New Testament

 

Community1 relational soul care2 has multidimensional spiritual layers that beg for all of

God’s children to experience His presence and spiritual fellowship (1 John 1:3).3 Because the fall

of man created barriers to experiencing God’s holy presence, God’s children needed to be

restored back to the Father. Scripture reveals that Jesus was the sent One. His mission was

coming in the flesh and suffering from His death, burial, and resurrection for all sin of mankind.

Yet, when Jesus left this earthly kingdom, He did not leave His children as orphans (John 14:18).

He sent the Holy Spirit (Advocate, Helper) so that His children will have a restored love

relationship with Him. This project will enfold the transformational paradigm of Jesus Christ’s

life, light, and love that is highlighted throughout the Epistles of John for believers illuminating

God’s people for restoration so they will experience spiritual vitality in community.

The paradigm integrates a soul care mentor for direction and accountability as well as a

care-seeker who needs spiritual guidance after counseling. Both will engage in community

relational soul care fellowship to develop spiritual vitality, which both are under the umbrella of

1 Community means believers in the Body of Christ where two or more gather in His name (Matt 18:20).

2 Relational soul care is different than spiritual formation. Relational soul caregivers bring their mind and heart (inner-self) to love and build up others, encourage, bring God’s wisdom, pray, and walk alongside of others on their journey of life. Also, they share a collective focus on Jesus Christ who fellowship and nurture one another to spiritual vitality individually and in community (Acts 2:42).

3 1 John1:3, “Unless otherwise stated all Scripture is from the English Standard Version” (Glassport, PA: Biblehub.com, 2016).

 

 

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influence of the Holy Spirit. This ministry project will focus on the mentor’s approach using the

three Epistles of John for individual focus and soul care community of believers who can love,

learn, listen, and shepherd each other, being emissaries of hope on God’s mission. They will be

illumining the path from the Holy Spirit as guardians of the power of the throne of God. The

person of the Holy Spirit is the resurrection power that transforms one’s life to want to seek and

live a healthy vital life. This three-way relationship is intimately connected helping one another

to cross through the trials of life, experiencing transformation from the Holy Spirit who paved

the way with love and grace.

Spirituality used to be called “holiness, holy living, godliness, walking with God, [and/or]

discipleship,” but now, this term is elevated to “spiritual formation or transformation, spiritual

health, [and/or] spiritual discipline,” all weaved together for spiritual soul care guidance.4 For

this thesis, this researcher is giving Christian spirituality a wholesome name, spiritual vitality.

Spiritual vitality could include all the above terms, but it emphasizes the divine illumination of

the Holy Spirit led life.

Henri J. M. Nouwen describes spiritual direction as a “relationship initiated by a spiritual

seeker who finds a mature person of faith willing to pray and respond with wisdom and

understanding to his or her questions about how to live spiritually.”5 This is what community

relational soul caregivers are about: partnering with the Holy Spirit with love and direction

spoken to hurting hearts. Regarding the spiritual direction relationship, Nouwen believes there

are three disciplines involved: “the heart (prayer), the Book; Lectio Divina, (sacred reading of

4 J. M. Houston, “Spirituality,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter Elwell (Grand Rapids,

MI: Baker Book House, 2001), 1138.

5 Henri J. M. Nouwen, Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walks of Faith (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2006), ix.

 

 

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God’s Word), and discipline of community [relationship with God and people of God].”6 The

relationships in community as the people of God could be called: spiritual friends, sacred

companions, soul caregivers, relational soul caregivers, and/or soul friendships.

David Benner says soul friendships are where one brings his or her “whole…inner

self…[and] seek to safeguard each other’s uniqueness and nurture the growth of each other’s

inner life…on the human journey.”7 Furthermore, he reveals that Christian spirituality is

“working out our existence in the context of the Christian faith and community,” but it goes even

deeper.8 It starts with a “deep relationship with God that exists when the human spirit is

grounded in God’s Spirit.”9 Since God’s people are not always grounded in a deep relationship

with Him, there is a need for an extension of soul care after counseling in community for the

healing journey to spiritual vitality after counseling.

This transformational paradigm can be reproduced for all believers today in the

community of Jesus. The example of Jesus’ life and ministry are the keys to open all doors to

spiritual vitality. As the master of relationships, Jesus is the sent One (Missio Dei), the Savior.

The Incarnational Jesus socialized with people to get their attention; had compassion for people;

served and ministered to people’s needs; and brought them to a place to seek eternal life. This

invitation, from the God of grace (Rom 5:15; 1 Cor 1:4; Eph 3:7; Col 1:6), restores people back

to Himself (2 Cor 5:18; Col 1:20, 22). It is for God’s chosen people to be set apart and holy (1

Pet 1:15-16; 1 Thess 4:7); a priesthood unto God (Exod 19:6; 1 Pet 2:5, 9: Rev 1:6, 5:10); and

Christ-like character as image-bearers (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 John 3:2). Also, it is an

6 Nouwen, Spiritual Direction, xviii.

7 David Benner, Scared Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 15.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

 

 

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invitation to serve God and mankind (John 12:26; Gal 5:13); be followers and doers of His Word

(Jas 1:22); and sent out for His mission (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8).

When believers follow the example of Jesus (character, life, and ministry), with a right

heart, they will flourish experiencing spiritual maturity while fulfilling God’s mission. It will

involve a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, loving one another in soul care relationships,

and witnessing of His Word. All Christians are called to be ministers unto God; it is not limited

to pastors, priests, Christian counselors, lay counselors, mentors, or soul caregivers.

This paradigm design focuses on two main parts to experience transformation in restoring

God’s people to spiritual vitality. Part one is from the acrostic RELATE: (1) lived (Godward

focus) through God and others (soul care relationships) and a spiritually healthy God-centered

self (outward focus), individually and corporately, in community relational soul care. Part two is

from the acrostic RESTORE: (2) the Epistles of John Bible study (inward focus) based on three

major essentials: God is life, God is light, and God is love.

The ministry setting for this project is in the researcher’s church. The name of the church

is withheld due to confidentiality because of issues from a split congregation four years ago. This

researcher would not want to cause any undue harm to the church. This was the beginning for the

idea of community relational soul care.

Statement of Purpose

This project focuses on the need for a relational soul care paradigm within the faith

community that is essential for lifelong healing. This relational paradigm accomplishes what

God originally wanted for His people: to be restored back to Himself by experiencing spiritual

transformation for His children’s lifelong journey and to live in eternity with the Him, all for His

glory. For spiritual vitality, it is critical for spiritual guidance after biblical counseling, because

 

 

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the broken spirit still needs time to renew their thoughts to adapt to a new normal for ways of

godly living. When the needy person has biblical counseling, and then released without spiritual

direction from a soul care mentor (spiritual leader) and relational soul caregivers for an

adjustment time, it can leave a person spiritually unhealthy or unwholesome in many areas of

life. This situation has led many people to relapse into old ways of thinking, so ultimately their

old behavior remains or they are broken-hearted and confused while struggling with trials. In this

mindset, they often feel rejected and sometime blame God and community.

Another problem resides with the fact of how one is qualified to be a mentor (spiritual

leader) and who is involved as community soul caregivers. After counseling, hurting individuals

should be placed in community (if not already), but no one talks about what is done to help that

person from that point on. To help care seekers, there should be a clear method to facilitate

boundaries for accountability, spiritual fellowships, and God’s Word speaking into believers for

application for today. Just being placed in community does not help God’s hurting people to

continue to cope with their trials of life. The purpose of this project is to show that there is a need

for spiritual intercession of continued spiritual leadership and God’s Word, besides soul care

fellowship for healing. If there was not a need for community relational soul care after

counseling, God’s people would not need relationships to help each other (1 Cor 12:12; 14:26),

as the saints are “for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”10

Furthermore, there are hindrances to spiritual formation because some people do not

carry a pure heart and willfully maintain sinful behavior in their lives. Understanding why there

are barriers for spiritual transformation in community relational soul care is necessary for

successful wholeness of mind, body, and soul.

10 Ephesians 4:12

 

 

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Research is needed to see if community relational soul care transforms Christians to

spiritual vitality. The significance for this project has a three-fold purpose for vitality in

community. The overarching aim is about believers seeking deep communion with the relational

God, relationship with others, and relation to a God-centered self in an awareness of realigning

their lives to be transformed into His likeness. Ultimately, spiritually mature disciples will be

sent out on God’s mission as witnesses of the Word to the world. This scriptural framework is

foundational because it is based on Jesus’ life and ministry through the Epistles of John and soul

care relationships for restoring God’s children to spiritual vitality.

Special Terminology

Special terminology is used throughout the following thesis project, including:

Community means believers in the Body of Christ where two or more gather together in

His name (Matt 18:20).

Community relational soul caregivers are interlocking together in fellowship sharing a

collective focus on Jesus Christ who help nurture one another to spiritual vitality for their

journey individually and corporately. Relational soul caregivers communicate God’s wisdom to

hurting souls; they are spiritual friends shepherding one another.

RELATE is an acrostic for relational soul care givers that nurture others spiritually and

emotionally to spiritual vitality in community.

RESTORE is an acrostic for restoring God’s children through the study of His Word

(Epistles 1, 2, 3, John).

Spiritual guidance, spiritual direction, holiness, discipleship, spirituality or spiritual

formation are used interchangeably; this means the deep inner life of a believer and/or a helper

who moves someone forward to godly living to spiritual vitality.

 

 

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A soul care mentor is a mature spiritual leader who is specifically trained in the Bible.

They could have professional degrees in biblical counseling or other additional training in the

psychological field of counseling.

A soul care seeker is a person who seeks help for direction or guidance for his or her life

from the pastor, priest, counselor, mentor, or community relational soul caregivers.

Spiritual vitality is a name for Christian life that begs for spiritually healthy believers in

all areas for psychological, physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual wholeness.

Statement of Limitations

This thesis has at least five limitations. Starting with the first point, this thesis project

does not attempt to impart the best methods for biblical counseling or fields of integrated

psychology. Moreover, this thesis will not claim any statistics of data on ways of counseling

methods. The researcher will include scholars who have extensive knowledge for soul care

counseling, but its concerns are directed for spiritual vitality after counseling.

Second, it is not the intent of this thesis to formulate a better compilation of models of

soul care; rather, this project expands on existing soul care research. The need for expansion has

brought to surface the continuation of people still struggling to cope or heal for wholeness after

counseling and for lifelong healing.

Third, although the writer will emphasize the need for education of the Bible and more

advanced education for Christian counselors, this project will only center on the qualifications in

education for the mentor (spiritual leader) and the knowledge in the Bible for soul caregivers.

Fourth, the research data will not be on the whole community or the mentor but only on

two specific groups for fellowship in community of soul caregivers. The first group consists of a

men’s organizational fellowship group. The second group is a woman’s organizational

 

 

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fellowship group in community that meets people’s needs and shepherds one another to spiritual

vitality.

Fifth, there are models of soul care written to help believers overcome problems or issues

in life, but there are no transformational paradigms for mentors based on a format of the Epistles

of John and community relational soul caregivers that this writer has found. Furthermore, since

there are no models like this and this paradigm has never been proven before, there are

limitations within this method itself.

Theological Basis

For the researcher’s topic, it is imperative to revisit history, going back in the Old

Testament for spiritual soul care relationships (e.g. 1 Sam 3:9; 2 Sam 12:7). Relationships are the

core for every believer because God made man in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26) to have a

love relationship with Him and others. God Himself is a Triune, communal, and relational being;

however, problems elevated with the fall of man, as there was no way to get back to the Lord.

Therefore, the Lord over creation designated a plan for restoring His people from the beginning,

who sent His Son as a substitute for the sins of mankind.

For restoration to be sealed (God’s plan), three covenants had to happen. Darrell Bock

discusses the three covenants in God’s narrative story that are foundational for God’s promise to

develop and further His plan to restore relationships back to Himself: the “Abrahamic, Davidic,

and the New Covenant.”11 This is where community relational soul care falls at the feet for all

Christians: one is to love others because “God’s love is the core of the gospel.”12 God sought

after His image-bearers (Imago Dei) in pursuit of His divine love. The Abrahamic covenant was

11 Darrell Bock, Recovering the Real Lost Gospel (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 8.

12 Ibid.

 

 

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about Abraham because of His faith and love for God who found favor from God, being blessed,

fathered a “special people…a seed (Gen 12:1-3), a people in touch with a true God…they

became a nation (God’s kingdom of priests and God’s holy nation, Exod 19:6) to honor God.”13

The special chosen people wanted to be like other nations; consequently, Israel wanted a

human king who would fight for them (1 Sam 8). Therefore, God still in a love pursuit, gave

them a king that led to the Davidic covenant. This covenant was expanded to continue God’s

promise from the “line of kings through the house of David (2 Sam:8-16),”14 because David had

a heart for God “who will do all my will.”15 Out of this line of kings, who would be God’s

representative, came the promise of the “hope of the Messiah [Jesus], a king that would bring

peace and establish righteousness.”16

Finally, the New Covenant was declared by the Lord in Jeremiah 31:31-34, but since His

chosen people could not keep a covenant, God Himself would place “His law within them, and I

will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor 3:3;

Rom 2:29). Gordon Johnson said that Jeremiah included “repentant Gentiles” with the Jewish

believers in the “New Covenant, creating one people of God;” therefore, the “New covenant

realities are fulfilling Jeremiah’s Old Covenant expectations.”17 However, “Jesus inaugurated the

New Covenant by His sacrifice,” and through His Spirit, one is transformed into His glory (2 Cor

13 Bock, Recovering the Real Lost Gospel, 9.

14 Ibid.

15 Acts 13:22.

16 Bock, Recovering the Real Lost Gospel, 10.

17 Gordon H. Johnson, “Jeremiah, Eschatology of Renewal of Covenant Relationships: New Covenant,” in The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, ed. Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), 161.

 

 

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3:4-18). Furthermore, the “New Covenant blessings have been inaugurated for Jewish and

Gentile believers in the church (Eph 1:13-14; 3:1-9).”18

However, God still pursued His special people and had to send the deliverer (Jesus) to fix

the problem and would become the mediator between God and mankind. The deliver would also

give them resurrection power to overcome sin and live in spiritual vitality. Elmer Towns says,

“in the covenant of grace, all is ‘ordained in the hand of a mediator’ because man’s sin had else

excluded him from access to God’s holiness.”19

Darrell Bock continues to talk about how God said there would be “forgiveness of

sin…God’s law written on the heart” and that “forgiveness…was designed to provide a way to a

restored relationship with God” and to help His people.20 Furthermore, according to Bock, “they

needed God’s presence and power within them…[and] God’s Spirit dwelling within them;”

however, in order to be united with the Spirit one needs to have a renewed heart.21 This unity of

Spirit is prayed for by Jesus in His High Priestly Prayer in John 17:21, “that they may all be

one.” Millard Erickson says that this unity “between the Father and the Son is a model for the

unity of believers with one another. The unity of believers with each other and with God will

testify to the world that the Father has sent the Son.”22

Restoration back to God the Father required the mediator (John 14:6). The Triune

relationship is united with mankind again in a love relationship through Christ in the

reconciliation by the New Covenant; however, there is still a problem. Since, not all believers

18 Johnson, “Jeremiah,” 161.

19 Elmer Towns, Theology for Today (Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2008), 489.

20 Bock, Recovering the Real Lost Gospel, 11.

21 Ibid.

22 Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 1137.

 

 

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commune with the Trinity or are not nurtured in relationships with the body of believers

(community), this effects the mind, heart, and soul of faith, when trials overcome believers in the

journey of life; therefore, there is little or no spiritual vitality. God designed man to be in a

relationship with Him, with others, and a God-centered self to evolve into Christ-likeness. It is a

lifelong journey.

Augustine had a concept of the inward journey (pilgrimage) for the soul on the quest of

God. He believed that the unity of the mind (cognitive) and “dimensions of the soul” should be a

goal for believers, for the “soul experiences the eternal life that comes through knowing (John

17:3) and loving God (Matt 22:37) ‒namely, union with God.”23 This would give believers

spiritual vitality, equipping them for the journey of life.

This union with God is also to be a union with believers according to Philippians 1:27

(one spirit), and Ephesians 4:4, that is told as “one in Spirit.” When the whole body of Christ

works together (unity) to seek the relational God, using all their gifts as the early church did, it

will begin to change lives. Ray Stedman talks about the “original strategy of Ephesians 4, when

we have given all Christians in the body their God-given role as ministers of God’s eternal plan,

then the entire body comes alive with resurrection power.”24 The Triune power is where “lives

are changed. Ministries explode. Communities are touched and healed. The church becomes

healthy and vital again.”25 Stedman continues to say that the “entire body of believers, should be

equipped, guided, and encouraged by those who are gifted by God to expound and apply His

23 Stanley Grenz, The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei

(Louisville, KT: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 61.

24 Ray C. Stedman, Body Life: The Book That Inspired a Return to the Church’s Real Meaning and Mission (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 1995), 113.

25 Ibid.

 

 

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Word with wisdom and power.”26 This is where all believers need to take responsibility to use

their God-given gifts, especially to care for the hurting souls and equip people into mature

disciples in community for God’s mission.

When love is restored, God’s people will have new hearts that bring the presence of the

living Spirit of God dwelling within them, illuminating spiritual vitality into their lives. True life,

light, and love are only found in the living Spirit of Jesus Christ. So, when Christians have trials,

they should “entrust their souls” to the Lord Jesus as He suffered for the sake of mankind (Luke

9:22).

Returning to the covenant, it was foretold in Ezekiel 36:25-27 that God, by His love

covenant, would restore His relationship with His people by giving His people a new heart and a

new spirit to follow Him in obedience in a love relationship. When the incarnational Jesus came,

He was the renewed Spirit; He died for the forgiveness of sins and gave His people a restored

relationship by the Holy Spirit. It was also foretold in Joel 2:28-32, that God would pour out His

spirit upon all sons and daughters as told at Pentecost, but the ones who received the Spirit had a

cost. The cost would include that “those in whom the Spirit dwells…had both a mission and a

responsibility to share it with others.”27 Pentecost, therefore, is a renewal of God’s words about

the covenantal promises to enable all His children to be restored “whom the Lord our God calls

to himself (Acts 2:38-39).” This also means that now they are filled with the Holy Spirit and can

live an abundant life in spiritual wholeness.

As planned by God the Father, Jesus had to suffer for mankind, so they could be restored

to a new life and rejoined back to the Father. Jesus had to leave this world or the Comforter

26 Stedman, Body Life, 112.

27 Bock, Recovering the Real Lost Gospel, 16.

 

 

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could not come, but He promised a Helper (parakletos). William Barclay discusses the Helper

(parakletos) in John 14:15-17:

The Greek word is the word parakletos (Greek #3875) which is really untranslatable, but it shows the riches of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit…Always a parakletos (Greek #3875) is someone called in to help in time of trouble or need….The word comes from the Latin fortis which means brave; and a comforter was someone who enabled some dispirited creature to be brave…a comforter is someone who sympathizes with us when we are sad…. to cope with things. That is precisely the work of the Holy Spirit. He takes away our inadequacies and enables us to cope with life. The Holy Spirit substitutes victorious for defeated living. So, what Jesus is saying is: I am setting you a hard task, and I am sending you out on a very difficult engagement. But I am going to send you someone, the parakletos (Greek #3875), who will guide you as to what to do and enable you to do it.28 The Gospel of John and the Epistles of John, emphasize that love and fellowship are

connected within the Bible for God and others. Jesus stated, “I am the way, and the truth, and the

life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”29 God’s love is about a relationship with

mankind, formed in a union, and bonded together with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Also, John 14:25-31 states that the Holy Spirit teaches all the things that Jesus told the disciples

and now to all His children. His believers are to seek after Him as God is life, God is the light,

and God is love. The Holy Spirit is the only way through which a believer can have a

relationship with the Trinity.

Richard Averbeck writes how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of the saints. He tells

how God’s children are all broken vessels that need to be restored, by the refining process.30

History shows that God works with brokenness. Job 41:25 states that “by reason of breakings

they purify themselves,” which means that when His people “cry out to Him” (Ps 102:28), God

28 William Barclay, “John 14,” William Barkley Daily Study Bible, last modified 2016, accessed December

1, 2016, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/john-14.html.

29 John 14:6.

30 Richard E. Averbeck, “A Spirit, Community, and Mission: A Biblical Theology for Spiritual Formation,” Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 1, no. 1 (2008): 27, accessed December 1, 2016, Academic OneFile.

 

 

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will restore them. There are several places in Scripture that show where “breaking” or

brokenness was good for restoration. Jacob had his natural strength that wrestled with God; Jesus

broke the bread in feeding the four thousand (Mark 8:6), the five thousand (Luke 9:16), and

broke bread for His disciples (Luke 22:19; Matt 26:26; Mark 14:22).31 Averbeck shows the

refining process is the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26-29; 2 Cor 3:28):

The work of the Holy Spirit is the human spirit occupying, empowering, and reshaping us and our lives from the inside out. (2) The Holy Spirit works in us into local communities of faith in which He dwells in which we have fellowship with one another. (3) The Holy Spirit ma

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