On Tuesday, October 8th at our annual meeting The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) voted to change our name. The proposal passed with an astounding 91% and our organization is now called the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).
A number of significant biblical counseling organizations are in existence today, but historically only two trace back to the founding of the movement and the pioneering work of Jay Adams. The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) was created to be the training arm of the movement, and the association formerly known as NANC was created to be the certifying arm of the movement. Over the years this second organization has certified thousands of people in every state in the union and in dozens of countries.
After nearly forty years our association of counselors changed its name for one very significant reason. At ACBC we have a missional passion to spread the truth of the sufficiency of Scripture and the sufficiency of Christ to hurting and troubled people all across the globe. We want to begin to communicate to hundreds of new constituencies and thousands of new people the riches of God’s power to bring change in the most profound difficulties of life.
Using the term “biblical” instead of “nouthetic” makes it more obvious to more people that we are an organization committed to the inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient Word of God to inform the counseling task. Placing the word “certification” in our title makes it obvious that our organization exists to verify and endorse people who have demonstrated competency in biblical counseling practice. Finally, removing the word “national” from our name demonstrates that we are an increasingly international association of biblical counselors.
In the weeks before our annual meeting some wondered if the proposal for a new name signaled a weakening commitment to our historic belief in the sufficiency of the Bible. During my comments at the conference when I was formally installed as Executive Director I repeated the question many have posed when they asked, “Where are we going as an organization?” I stated that I have two answers to that question. One answer concerns our convictions and the other concerns our mission.
With regard to our convictions we are not going anywhere. At ACBC we are just as committed to the authority of Christ and his Word as we were when we called ourselves NANC. We maintain this commitment because we believe the Bible when it says, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Pet 1:24-25). We are convinced that the quickest way to be an irrelevant organization that withers and fades is by moving away from the timelessly enduring Word of God. We are immovable in our convictions as an organization.
With regard to our mission, however, we are going everywhere. We are excited as an organization to share this vision with those who have not heard of us, and those who have dismissed us in the past. Our steadfast commitment to our convictions inspires in us a strong desire to communicate them to new constituencies. We are committed to filling the earth with the truth that Christ, and Christ alone, is the sufficient solution to the counseling problems people have.
Our new name represents our desire to stand on our historic commitments all while communicating in new ways to new people.
We live in a secular and therapeutic world that desperately needs the work of ACBC. The problems of people are increasingly defined in secular categories and treated with atheistic therapies and superficial medical interventions. We face a crucial need to recover a biblical vision of the power of Christ to restore troubled people weighed down with spiritual issues that require counseling. As we seek this restoration it will not be enough to talk about biblical counseling, or to discuss biblical things. The church of Jesus Christ is in dire need of people who have developed excellence in how to counsel. The mission of our organization, now known as ACBC, is well into our fourth decade of certifying men and women who have demonstrated excellence in biblical counseling. At our annual meeting this crucial role was reaffirmed, along with a commitment to spread this vision in new and dramatic ways.
I pray that you share this commitment of the vast majority of our membership, and that you are excited to stand with us as we enter a new phase of effectiveness in biblical counseling.
Dr. Heath Lambert
The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors