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Equipping Counselors for Your Church Review

September 28, 2011

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A Seminal and Landmark Work for the Church

We live in a therapeutic culture, a culture where receiving therapy and counsel does not have the stigma it once had. In some circles it’s perhaps even a status symbol to have a ‘personal shrink’ or ‘life coach.’ As these purveyors of care offer help to people in need, a crucial piece of their care is missing—true hope! At best, the secular counselor can help their counselee with life here on earth, but the future and eternal life issues—this truly is an area for the church to speak into.

In this seminal and landmark work for the church, Equipping Counselors for Your Church, Dr. Bob Kellemen has given us a go-to manual for raising up a new generation of counselors while nurturing the ones currently in our care. Built and crafted from years of experience and based on the solid foundation of God’s Word to us, this book will be a vital, practical, useful manual for generations to come.

The 4 E’s

Dr. Kellemen has crafted his book around four key principles:

  • Envision God’s Ministry
  • Enlist God’s Ministers for Ministry
  • Equip Godly Ministers for Ministry
  • Employ/Empower Godly Ministers for Ministry.

Each of the subsequent chapters of the book unpack in detail how the principle works itself out in the day-to-day life of the church.

One of the strengths of this book is the ability, and frankly, encouragement, to use the principles as a framework for ministry, rather than a piece-by-piece implementation list. Nothing is more frustrating and discouraging than to read an excellent resource only to realize your context and culture are not compatible with the vision of the author. Dr. Kellemen understands this common problem and writes as one who has pastored a congregation of 3,000, of 500, and of 100. Thus, for whatever particular context you find yourself in, this resource will be of benefit to you. This strength is heightened even more by the inclusion throughout the book of insights from twenty-four best practice biblical counseling churches.

Leave No Counselor Behind

One of the most encouraging parts of this book was Dr. Kellemen’s focus on the personal growth of the counselor. Needless to say, counseling is of major and practical benefit for the counselee, but an oft-neglected aspect of the ministry is the personal growth and development of the counselor. Speak with a counselor, and they will tell you of their own spiritual maturity through the ministry of counseling. Isn’t that the way God intended it—that as we ‘speak the truth in love’ we ‘will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ?'

In the third section of his book (Equipping Godly Ministers for Ministry), Bob charts out what it looks like to disciple and grow your biblical counselors. Each page brims with practical application designed to strengthen competency, stress compassion, and supplement areas of weakness with opportunities for learning and development.

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

When I came to my current church, there was a strong foundation of pastoral care and lay counseling happening. Rather than reinvent the structure and framework from the ground up, I sought to work within what currently existed, prayerfully considering each area of ministry for potential areas of growth. The self-evaluation questions at the close of each chapter make for a ready-made diagnostic to assess strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth in your ministry.

In this book, Dr. Kellemen has generously shared from his wisdom and own experience how a Christ-honored counseling ministry can look in your local church. Learn and utilize the resources in this book. I was amazed at how many supplements, appendices, charts and forms were made available for the reader. The section at the end of the book on ethical and legal implications of a biblical counseling ministry is to my knowledge the first of its kind in a biblical counseling resource and worth the price of the book. 

Everything, and I mean literally mean everything, you might need is here for you. The resources in and of themselves point to Dr. Kellemen’s vision that leaders like us ‘equip people confidently, wisely, lovingly, and biblically.’ Purchase Equipping Counselors for Your Church today for yourself and for your counseling staff!