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Meet the Ministries: CCEF

Over the past few months I’ve been running a series of interviews called “Meet the Ministries.” The purpose of this series is to learn about some of the more prominent or more interesting ministries seeking to serve the church today and to learn how we can serve them and how they may be able to serve us. In the past this series has stopped at Grace to You, Desiring God, Acts 29 and Peacemaker Ministries. Today the series turns to CCEF, a ministry I assume most of us are at least somewhat familiar with. The interview was conducted with Tim Lane.


How and when did the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) begin?
CCEF is a Christian counseling and educational ministry located in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. CCEF was founded to call the church back to the primacy of Scripture as the basis for thoughtful and effective pastoral care and counseling.

With the advent of modern secular psychologies at the beginning of the 20th century, many seminaries no longer made the Scriptures primary in their pastoral care and counseling curriculums. This vacuum was filled by a host of alternatives that tended to minimize, change or overshadow the redemptive message of the Scriptures. In response to this trend, a “biblical counseling” movement emerged in the late 1960’s with CCEF, founded in 1968, playing a leading role. For the past four decades, we have continued in that role by growing and contributing to the development of biblical counseling.


Why does CCEF exist? What are its chief goals and key emphases?
At CCEF, we teach people how to explore the wisdom and depth of the Bible and apply its grace-centered message to the problems of daily living. Simply put our mission is to: Restore Christ to Counseling and Counseling to the Church.

Restore Christ to Counseling. We have a passion for personal change that is centered in the person of Christ. This passion is our heritage and heartbeat, and it leads us to constantly revisit the question, “How do the riches of the Gospel impact my life and my efforts to help others?”

Restore Counseling to the Church. We believe that the body of Christ is God’s primary context for change, the community God uses to transform his people. CCEF’s mission is to equip the church to be this kind of transforming community. We see ourselves as an extension of the local church, and we want to serve and promote its ministry.

We accomplish our mission through a unique synergy of counseling, training, publications, and conferences.

Counseling: We have a robust counseling ministry in our home office where we counsel individuals, couples and families on a wide variety of personal, marriage and family issues.

Training: We train future leaders, pastors, counselors and people with a heart for discipleship through a certificate program through both on-site and distance education classes. We teach several accredited counseling programs in conjunction with Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and are affiliated with Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, PA, and SEMBEQ Seminary in Montreal, Canada.

Publications: To further equip pastors and counselors, our faculty has published numerous books, booklets, articles, study guides, and curriculum series. Many of these are available from New Growth Press.

Conferences and Speaking: We host a National Conference every fall at which we offer extensive instruction on a selected topic, and our faculty also speaks and teaches at a variety of conferences, seminars and church-based events throughout the year.


How does CCEF differ from secular counseling ministries? How does CCEF differ from other Christian counseling ministries?
CCEF differs from secular counseling practices in a foundational way. Secular psychology removes the personal God of scripture from its counseling model and therefore views people and their problems through a purely human-centered lens. At CCEF, there is always a concern to define what can legitimately be learned from modern psychology, but believes that Scripture provides the orienting “generalizations”: a God-centered view of people, problems and solutions.

How do we differ from other Christian counseling ministries? That is a harder question to answer. Some ministries are staffed by Christians, but they are still essentially using a secular model of counseling. Others represent an integrationist model, meaning they intentionally work to integrate psychology with Christianity. Our model is built on the primacy of Scripture, more specifically on the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. We think there are helpful things to learn from anyone who counsels and writes about counseling but we remain steadfast in the way we allow the Scriptures to provide the primary orienting perspective for our work. For a fuller statement of what this looks like, visit our website.


How can CCEF serve the readers of this website?
CCEF can serve your readers immediately through our,

Website Resources: Through our website (www.ccef.org) we offer many free counseling resources including podcasts, blogs, videos and feature articles. We also offer audio downloads of our National conference lectures for a modest fee.

Publications: Our faculty has published many books and booklets available through New Growth Press at www.newgrowthpress.com

National Conference: This year’s conference is November 11-14, 2010 and the subject matter will be marriage. Our conferences are helpful for people personally as well as professionally.

On-site and Distance Education: We offer over a dozen courses that are especially designed to help people in the Christian life as well as their ministry whether it is informal or more formal. Both professionals and non-professionals can benefit from our courses.


In what circumstances might they want to get in touch with CCEF?
You may want to get in touch with us if you are interested in:

Counselor Training: We offer training in biblical counseling with both on-site and distance education classes. Our on-site program includes accredited degrees through Westminster Seminary and our distance education program is beginning to offer classes for credit through Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

Counseling Services: We offer counseling services at our main campus in suburban Philadelphia.

Registering for our National Conference: For 2010 our conference is on marriage and is titled: ONE—For Better And Worse. This is the best way to see our entire organization at work. For many of our attendees it is a weekend well spent…considered both content-rich and spiritually refreshing.


Who are the key leaders within the ministry?
Our ministry is comprised of about 30 full time and part time staff. The most obvious leaders in our ministry are our faculty who teach, write and speak around the country. They are:

Michael R. Emlet, M.Div., M.D.
Monica Kim. M.A.R.
Timothy S. Lane, M.Div., D. Min.
Julie Lowe, M.A.
David Powlison, M.Div., Ph.D.
Aaron Sironi, M.S.
Winston T. Smith, M.Div.
Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D.

To learn more about our faculty, go to our website by clicking here.


What is CCEF’s annual budget? How is the ministry financed and how do you ensure financial integrity?
CCEF’s annual budget is approximately $2.5 million. 60% of our income is generated through revenue we produce through the services we provide. 40% is dependent upon individuals and churches who support the work of CCEF. Our goal is to raise $1 million dollars a year in donations. Because we attempt to keep our fees as reasonable as possible and because the cost of education is extremely high, we rely upon the generosity of others who want to see the ministry of CCEF thrive. In case you are wondering, we have made it very safe and easy for folks to give online at our website!!

We work hard to follow generally accepted accounting practices and communicate our financial system to our donors. We have an audit of our financial records performed every year by an outside firm and annually survey our employees concerning conflicts of interest and fraud, providing confidential means of reporting any problems.


How do you expect CCEF will be different in ten years? Twenty years?
As a ministry, we want to continue to grow in humility! That can’t be stated enough. In a broader way, as CCEF enters the 21st century, it continues its commitment to work out the implications of biblical counseling in three primary areas:

1. Counseling Theory or Model: what is a robust, biblical, Christ-centered approach to people and their problems; both sin and suffering? We have made significant strides here, but there is always more to be done.

2. Counseling Methodology: what does it look like to actually counsel people face to face, meeting after meeting? We have made progress here as well, but there is still much room for growth, particularly as we seek to transfer what counseling looks like at a practical level to those called to this Kingdom work.

3. Counseling Context: how do we capture the attention of lead pastors, staff and every person in the local church to see that “counseling” is a very broad term that ranges from very informal interactions to more formal one-on-one counseling? How do we help people see that “counseling” is not a modern invention but has its roots in Creation where there is a need for God to speak in order for us to make sense out of life? And how do we create places for uniquely gifted formal counselors to use their gifts in serving and training the body of Christ?

As we look out 10-20 years, we hope to see CCEF using technology and new delivery systems in such a way that winsome biblical counseling is the norm in the local church and the broader Christian community. When CCEF started in the 1960’s, the task before us seemed insurmountable. Now, 40 years later, we are watching an explosion of biblical counseling in churches, denominations and large movements. The challenge is to clearly articulate, define and train people with the distinctives that we at CCEF think are essential if biblical counseling is going to be established as the primary way people think about their lives and the change process. We are engaged in the significant task of persuasion. That calls for clarity, humility, an ability to listen to your critics, and zeal to keep moving the ball down the field one play at a time. It does feel like we may have crossed the 50 yard line and are moving more pointedly towards the goal line but much more hard work is left to be done.


How does CCEF work with other ministries?
We have teaching relationships with several seminaries where our faculty either teaches or the seminary’s resident faculty uses our curriculum in their counseling program. We are also connected to various national and international church planting movements. In addition, we are always attempting to engage in meaningful dialogue with those who may differ with us. We want to engage the conversation, have influence, learn ourselves and simply remain open to change.


What are some of the ways CCEF has seen evidence of God’s hand of blessing?
The fact that we are still standing in the midst of a tragic economy is one sign! God has sustained us through hard financial times but there is more than that. He has provided us with excellent faculty, a staff of Godly counselors, committed support staff and a team spirit that money can’t buy. Only the Spirit can produce those kinds of things. We are also witnessing a younger generation of qualified counselors and thinkers that will sustain the ministry of CCEF in the future. Even beyond that, we are beginning to see a ground swell of interest in biblical counseling across ministries, seminaries and local churches. You would have never seen this even 20 years ago. And it is happening amongst younger and older audiences across denominational lines. We simply look at the growing number of people taking our Distance Education classes and to the requests from significant leaders in the evangelical world asking for guidance as they implement biblical counseling ministries in their churches and communities.


How can readers of this website serve and support CCEF?

  • We always covet the prayers of God’s people. Pray that we would be true to our mission of restoring Christ to counseling and counseling to the church.
  • Become a monthly donor. We depend on donations to fund 40% of our ministry.
  • Encourage your church to develop a relationship with CCEF by becoming a Supporting Church
  • Direct churches to our website for counseling needs and discipling curriculum.
  • Create a CCEF link from your church or blog page.
  • Become a fan Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our channels in YouTube and iTunes or simply pass on helpful resources from our website www.ccef.org