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Building a Church Counseling Ministry Without Killing the Pastor Interview

October 24, 2012

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The BCC Author Interview Q & A with Sue Nicewander

BCC Staff: As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted Christian authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Sue Nicewander as she talks about her book, Building a Church Counseling Ministry without Killing the Pastor by Day One.

BCC: “Sue, Building a Church Counseling Ministry Without Killing the Pastor presents the ministry model of Biblical Counseling Ministries, Inc. Tell us a little more about BCM and how it began.”

SN: “Biblical Counseling Ministries is the cooperative effort of five Baptist churches in Central Wisconsin to hire a biblical counselor (me) to provide biblical counseling resources and discipleship training in, with, and through the local church. We operate under local church authority.

With strong convictions that counseling belongs in the local church, I had looked forward to settling into a church counseling position when I finished seminary. All five of the churches that I contacted wanted my help, but unfortunately none of them was in a position to hire a staff counselor. (In fact, many highly qualified biblical counselors find themselves in a similar situation.) So we all put our heads together and figured out how to collaborate to make this ministry happen. Now, through BCM, I travel to each of the five locations to provide biblical counseling. I also offer seminars and discipleship training at a central location.”

BCC: Building a Church Counseling Ministry Without Killing the Pastor is written to pastors and biblical counselors. Why two audiences?”

SN: “We need each other. The two co-authoring pastors agree that they would not have tackled BCM except that I agreed to be the go-to person to get the ministry off the ground. So, the pastors needed me to set up the organization and provide counseling, but I also needed them to open doors to counsel and train in their churches. I was more than happy to step up to help and they were more than happy to provide for my needs and make referrals. We have worked together ever since. Building a Church Counseling Ministry Without Killing the Pastor clearly explains—from both perspectives—the process we used and the cooperative efforts necessary to set up a well-organized church-based ministry. Our model began in small-to-average sized churches, but the book explains how it may be adapted for any local-church-based biblical counseling ministry.”

BCC: “How did you decide to write this book?”

SN: “I have received numerous calls about our ministry model, and have spent hours on the phone explaining what we do. I thought I’d save some time by writing a brochure or pamphlet for interested parties. But colleagues, pastors, and educators asked me to explain our structure and our vision more fully. I expanded the project to include a description of the importance of biblical discipleship, a definition of biblical counseling, an outline demonstrating how to give biblical counsel, an explanation of the four structural pillars, and a narrative to illustrate how the BCM model ‘looks’ in motion. BCM board members provided lots of input. Our pastoral co-authors explained how church leadership can be nurtured, and they added outlines and tips to help pastors to evaluate their churches and build discipleship. Finally, to save time for a new ministry, we have included many of the forms we use. The project ended up as a full-size book, published by Day One Publishers in their Ministry and Missions series.”

BCC: “Sue, what is your vision for this project?”

SN: “Our ministry model supports the pastor with biblical counseling, literary resources, and consultations, but, even more importantly, it has been a catalyst for developing biblical discipleship in each of the churches we serve. We are confident that others could benefit from our experience. Building a Counseling Ministry Without Killing the Pastor explains how to organize or to collaborate to form a biblical counseling ministry without having to reinvent the wheel. Pastors learn how to prepare to receive and work with a biblical counselor. Biblical counselors learn how to effectively serve as part of a local church team. The book is straightforward and concise—presenting enjoyable narratives, quick tips, checklists, forms, and clear explanations of the steps we have taken. Our purpose is to lighten the pastor’s load by providing a model to develop discipleship in his local church, and to build up the qualified biblical counselor to serve the church well.

God has been opening the door to share our ministry model by means of our book and other opportunities such as a workshop at the 2012 NANC annual conference and a spring 2013 learning lab for the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). We are excited to consider how God may use BCM to bring pastors, biblical counselors, and local churches together in scriptural ministry to people in need!”

BCC: “Sue, thank you for your ministry, for writing this important book, and for informing our readers about it.”

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