NANC gets new website and proposes name change

The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) has a brand new website. The new site includes a number of updates and helpful information as well as a new blog, authored by executive director Heath Lambert.

The most momentous change on the site is the announcement that NANC is seeking to change its name to the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). The board of trustees has overwhelmingly approved the measure, and now it falls to the registered members at the upcoming annual meeting to approve it.

Lambert lists a number of reasons for the name change, but probably the one that is most obvious is the first one. People simply do not know what “nouthetic” means, and the ones that do sometimes misconstrue the purpose of the organization as only having to do with admonishment. Lambert writes:

The word nouthetic is a perfectly good Greek word, which most people simply do not understand. Most of us in NANC spend more time explaining the meaning of a Greek word than we intended to when we mention the name of our organization. Once people understand the meaning of the term it does not help us that much. The term means “to confront or admonish,” and this only describes a narrow slice of the kind of counseling endorsed by NANC. Of course, biblical counselors admonish people in their sin, but at NANC we also encourage our counselors to comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, pray, encourage, instruct, take care of their physical bodies, and 101 other things the Bible says to do. In its precise meaning the word nouthetic is a truncated expression of the many and varied counseling styles that God communicates in Scripture.

I think this is a wise move. There are many good reasons for NANC to approve this change, but the confusion around the word “nouthetic” is reason enough all by itself to warrant a rebranding. I for one hope to see this measure pass. There is a good bit more material on the new site, and I encourage you to check it out.


  • Jason Russell

    When you read Jay Adams, it’s easy to see why most people think it’s all about admonishment. If it weren’t for the brothers Tripp, Ed Welch, and David Powlison, I would have never thought differently.

  • Lynn Burgess

    I have found the word Nouthetic helpful because people ask. I usually answer that we counsel from the Bible alone absent psychology and seldom need to say more.

    I have an idea every evangelical integrationist counselor believes themselves to be biblical.

    In much of American Christendom biblical and Christian used as adjectives are often interchangeable. The change in name may be more accurately descriptive to those in the movement who know, but to others NANC will now become part of the blur of all “Christian” counselors.

    I fear the name change is a mistake in an effort to put a stake in the ground and separate from Dr. Adams and will actually hurt the cause long-term.

    • Jason Russell

      I understand what you’re saying, Lynn. However, being as truly biblical as you can be doesn’t matter at all if you lack gentleness and a loving way to instruct or discipline. In other words, I have never read much of Adams where I felt he connected the truth of God’s Word in counseling to love of His people. And for that, I think changing the name is a good idea.

      • Lynn Burgess

        James, I came to Nouthetic counseling as a counselee who had searched far-and-wide for biblical counsel. I didn’t know the answers to my issues, but I believed the Bible had them and that I would recognize the truth when I found it – and praise the Lord, I did indeed.

        I am just beginning my NANC certification training and I own a good many Jay Adams books I have not yet read. But I will tell you this… my pastor trained under Dr. Adams and did his supervised counseling many years ago under Randy Patten and I can promise you that he could not be more gentle and loving in his counsel. When I first met Pastor, I was a stranger and I was locked-and-loaded and ready for bear. In a word, I was proud, disrespectful, judgmental, harsh, and most of all mistrusting — and he walked patiently with me though all of that until I learned to trust him, then respect him, and then love him as my pastor.

        We use a slightly modified NANC model in that my pastor believes people often need more time to change than Dr. Adams suggests. Plus, sometime after we were into the thick of things neck deep Pastor came to believe God had gifted me to counsel so he in a great way trained me to counsel as he counseled me. All that to say, I met with him for many weeks and months, we covered many subjects, it was heart wrenching, life changing, and always gentle, always loving. One subject we covered at length was how to confront without being confrontational, how to speak with grace, to ask questions that allow the Holy Spirit to bring the conviction (and not the counselor), etc.

        As I contemplate counseling myself in a formal way I am constantly watching and listening for how things work, how people respond to other people, what people and words make my own heart say ouch, etc. I think there could not be a better biblical counselor than my pastor is but I think there might be one small but important detail that he missed that I would want to emphasize when I counsel. But I think the reason for that is that to Pastor this thing I shall not name is self-evident, but to me not so much. Do you follow me? We sometimes do not explain what we think is self-evident. So I don’t know, I have seen the fruit of Dr. Adams’ teaching and it is truly gentle and incredibly loving, so I wonder if in his books he just did not think it was necessary what to him was obvious and self-evident?

        It could be too that this topic is covered in one of his books but not in others; check back with me next year… well in a few years… after I have read them all (smile)!

      • Lynn Burgess



        “so I wonder if in his books he just did not think it was necessary what to him was obvious and self-evident?”

        should read…

        “so I wonder if in his books he just did not think it was necessary TO WRITE what to him was obvious and self-evident?”

    • Lynn Burgess

      I emailed my post to NANC and Heath Lambert sent me this gracious response this afternoon:

      From: Heath Lambert
      Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 3:03 PM
      Subject: follow up

      Your email was forwarded to me by some folks on our staff because you expressed concern about the proposed name change.

      Let me try and respond to some of the things you said.

      First of all, I want you to know that our board considered some of the things you’re mentioning and still is recommending the name change. In addition to that the comments we are hearing from our members are overwhelmingly supportive of the name change. I think most people understand that we will have to explain any term we use whether biblical, nouthetic, Christian, or something else. There are too many approaches to counseling, and too much imprecision with human language to avoid an explanation. We will have to be committed to explaining our commitment to Bible only counseling regardless of what term we use. We think “biblical” is best because it does more clearly explain what we’re talking about than “nouthetic.” Our principles won’t change, and neither will our explanation of them. We just think that the new name will communicate more immediately what we are doing.

      In particular you expressed a fear that this recommendation is growing out of some desire to put a stake in the ground and separate from Dr. Adams. I want to assure you that this is not the case. In fact, I don’t know where an idea like that would come from. In fact, every member of our board has personally expressed to Dr. Adams over the last couple of weeks their personal commitment to the model of counseling he developed.

      On top of that I have spoken personally with Dr. Adams about this proposal on a couple of different occasions. I called him and told him about it personally and wanted to give him an opportunity to express any concerns before we went public with the announcement. He assured me that he had no concerns with it. In fact, he mentioned that he did not want the word nouthetic in the title to begin with, but that he was overruled on it by a board vote. He said, “I can’t believe it has taken almost 40 years to get rid of it.”

      During that same conversation I extended a personal invitation for him to come speak at any NANC conference that he wanted. He is in poor health and can’t travel very much but Dr. Adams is welcome at any conference he can attend. There is no desire on my part or on the part of any board member to distance ourselves from Dr. Adams.

      I hope this is allays some of your concerns.

      I also hope that I’ll be able to meet you at our conference in a few days!

      Blessings to you in Christ,

      Heath Lambert

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