Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Becoming Unchurched #3: Shallow ecclesiology and counseling

Becoming Unchurched Intro
Becoming Unchurched #1
Becoming Unchurched #2

In my last post I mentioned what many are calling a deep ecclesiology. I guess I ought to give my idea of what that means. That's what this post is all about.

I am a marriage and family therapist by trade. In my masters program I learned various ways to do therapy. Cognitive, behavioral, solution-focused, intergenerational, emotionally-focused, internal family systems, structural and on and on. Each model of therapy promised something. Each had its claims to being the most correct, effective, respectful, etc.

Each model also had its own "celebrities." For the most part, some charasmatic leader would promote or develop a model of therapy and gain a following. The model of therapy gained credibility as it gained a following. And, with the research held up when the inventor of the model or the immediate disciples of the model used it. They were the true believers.

However, after the frenzy of the new model wore off and more sophisticatred research could be done on the model, what ended up happening was amazing. No model was superior to any other model. All that could be said was therapy was usually effective, but it did not matter what model of therapy was used.

This news was a humiliating kick to the groin for the true believers. Their model was only as good as any other model. Ouch!!!

So the question then had to be raised, if the model of therapy does not matter, then what does?

Researchers found that there are 4 things that effect the most change in therapy. These things are called "Common Factors." They are:

1. The client's pre-existing resrouces. This was far and away the most important piece to the puzzle. This was not exciting news to the true believers. What it means is that the model of therapy and even the therapist is not nearly as important as they once believed.

2. The therapeutic relationship. This is second most important factor. If the relationship between the client and therapist is full of trust, confidence, and respect, there is a much higher chance of therapy working. This was a little bit of a relief for the true believers. The therapist was actually involved in this factor. However, it again had nothing to do with the model of therapy they were true believers in.

3. Hope. The next common factor again had only to do with the client. Did they believe therapy would help them? The more they believe it will help, the more it helps. Again, this has nothing to do with the model of therapy or the therapist per se.

4. Model of therapy. Finally, the model of therapy comes into play. But after a quick sigh of relief for the true believers in a certain model of therapy, it must be stated that even still, it does not matter which model is used. It's a complete wash.

So, what the true believers belive in, their model of therapy, only accounts for less than 15% of change in therapy. And that 15% does not indicate that any single model is better thanany other.

The point of this is that there was something else happening in therapy than the model used by the therapist. Although on the surface it appeared that counselors were divided because of their schools of therapy, they were actually united in the common factors and didn't even know it.

Now, replace models of therapy with denominations. Replace theory of therapy with theology. Now replace common factors with deep ecclessiology. If you can make these connections in your brain, then you get deepe ecclesiology.

What divides Christians is almost always shallow ecclesiology that we treat as deep, just like the therapists treated their beloved models of therapy that made no difference whatsoever.

Christians are united in a deep ecclesiology and don't even know it.

More to come.


David U said...

Great analogy, Chris! Shallow ecclesiology will NOT stand the test of time. Deep truths will!

God bless,

Wade said...

Great stuff Chris! I confess an addiction to methodology. I'm constantly in search of a "better" or "more right" way of doing something. This post reminds me to stop taking myself and my methods so seriously.

Brandon Scott said...

I've written you 2 or 3 times and no response. Now I am leaving a comment on your blog. Write a brother back.

Wade said...

Great stuff Chris! I confess an addiction to methodology. I'm constantly in search of a "better" or "more right" way of doing something. This post reminds me to stop taking myself and my methods so seriously.