Dr. David Ralston of Conroe, TX is a Certified Pastoral Member of the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling and has been an International Representative since 2011.
Currently, Dr. Ralston is an Associate Pastor of Counseling and Recovery at The Ark Church, Conroe, TX.
Dr. Ralston is also an NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor-Advanced Certified.
A HUGE MOVE
God has a way of taking us in directions where only He can see how it will turn out, and how much it will bless us. When my wife Ann and I took the step in 2007 to move toward my becoming a Christian Counselor and hopefully moving into full-time ministry, we had no idea what that might look like. All we knew was that we were supposed to take the step.
Psalm 119:105 reads, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” A lamp only illuminates the path in front of my feet far enough to see the next step. And that’s exactly what God has done in our lives; only provided enough light to see the next decision He wanted us to make.
Like many of you, I journeyed my way through the NCCA training and credentialing program: Certified Temperament Counselor. Licensed Clinical Christian Counselor. SACC International Representative. And last fall, after nearly ten years since beginning the journey, completed my PhD degree in Clinical Christian Counseling from Colorado Theological Seminary.
During those years, Ann and I grew into our own 501(c)(3), Life Training Christian Counseling, in Owensboro, Kentucky. We witnessed how God multiplied this ministry from meeting with a couple in our living room, to several years later seeing clients every day in a professional suite near the city center. During these years of growth, we had prayed continually that He would continue to widen our territory, and also that He might bless our faithfulness with a more stable income and lifestyle than this small counseling practice could provide.
In March of this year, after nearly four months of interviewing, we were called to a full-time church staff position in southeast Texas. I was called to become the Associate Pastor for Counseling and Recovery at The Ark Church in Conroe, Texas (www.thearkchurch.com). And Ann was called to a part-time position in the same department, as well 🙂
The Ark is an exciting, growing church, with over 7,000 in weekly attendance. Although Conroe is only 40 miles from Houston, it is less of a suburban culture and more of a small, rural city on a rapid growth trajectory. In fact, the US Census Bureau reported recently (https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2017-05-25/fastest-growing-us-cities-are-in-south-4-of-top-5-in-texas), that Conroe, Texas is the fastest growing city in the United States.
Prior to our joining the team at The Ark, there were three parallel ministries – Biblical Guidance (lay-counseling), Marriage Mentoring, and Recovery Groups – each under the oversight of a different staff member. My newly created position was to bring all three of these together into one multi-disciplinary restoration ministry under my leadership and shepherding.
Turning the clock back a few years… God had given me a ‘vision’ one night while I was sleeping. I put vision in quotes, because I’m not really sure what a vision even is. I just know that I awoke one night about five years ago with a very clear picture of a broad-based counseling and recovery ministry, and God had even given me the name of the program as well as many of the details of what it would look like. The only problems were, at that time I was not on staff in a church nor looking to begin a counseling and recovery ministry. So a few years later, when The Ark asked my vision for the newly created ministry here in Texas, I really only had to unfold what God had already given me.
The picture God had placed in my heart was for a ministry program called TURN. This would be an acrostic for the four phases of restoration from brokenness or shame:
Turning from toxic people, places, and things (Behavior phase)
Uncovering the lies and false beliefs (Shame phase)
Rediscovering who I am in Christ (Identity phase)
Nurturing hope in others (Service phase)
We will be launching the TURN program here at The Ark this fall with nearly fifty trained volunteers on our team. The team is made up of lay counselors, couples lay counselors, recovery group leaders, and mental health consultants. All fifty of these folks just completed the “Created In God’s Image” course (Click here for more information) under my teaching. And two women in the class have heard God calling them to move ahead with taking “Creation Therapy,” and becoming credentialed by the NCCA.
The weekly Tuesday night TURN program will consist of an hour-long large group teaching/testimony time, followed by multiple breakout opportunities. In the sixty-minute breakouts, participants will be provided the options of attending a topic-specific breakout group (i.e. codependency, sexual purity, chemical dependency), or an individual or couples lay counseling appointment.
Also, we will be offering a class each semester (a different day during the week) through the church’s Adult Ministry, intended to supplement the principles taught in the TURN program. One class will focus on healing the shame in a person’s life, addressing the “U” phase of TURN. At this point, the class will be a study of the book, “The Search for Significance” by Robert McGee. The other primary class – “Created in God’s Image” – will help the participant discover their unique identity in Christ, the “R” phase of TURN, through coming to understand their God-given temperament.
We will be using temperament as a general backdrop for every area of the TURN program. When I am teaching in the large group setting, I intend to incorporate references to the temperaments into each week’s lesson in some way. The small group leaders will allude to temperament in terms of why our needs may be unmet, or being met in ungodly, unhealthy ways. And in our lay counseling ministry, clients will be made aware of the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of their unique temperament combinations as the lay counselor leads them toward biblical solutions to the struggles in their lives and relationships. We will be offering the book, “The Missing Link”, by Drs. Arno, to any of our lay counseling clients or group participants who would like to learn more about temperament. And, as mentioned before, we will be offering the “Created In God’s Image” class at least once or twice during the year. Participants who either desire to learn more about their temperament, or who are needing deeper counseling work, will be referred to me, who at this point is the only NCCA licensed counselor on our team. It is my prayer that God will raise up an entire team of NCCA certified and licensed counselors to accommodate what I feel certain will be a growing demand in the months to come.
In the few months since Ann and I have come to The Ark, we have begun to sense a growing interest and momentum toward the APS temperament profile, and how it can benefit a person’s individual journey, as well as their relationships. With the clients who Ann and I see in our office, the APS is used with each and every client.
There is becoming a great deal of hallway conversation throughout the church about how knowing your God-given temperament can change how you see yourself, or how you can understand your spouse, or why your parents may have been the way they were or done the things they did.
I look forward to seeing what God will do in this wonderful church community, not to mention what He might be up to in this rapidly growing city. It is so exciting to be on the leading edge of introducing the APS temperament model into a culture for the very first time.