Do you want to see your church develop a biblical counseling ministry, but don’t know where to begin? Do you feel like you don’t know what questions you would need to ask or who would need to be in the room as you seek to answer them? Are you worried about the logistics and liabilities that would arise as you sought to launch this kind of ministry initiative?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Dr. Kellemen has put together a book you need to read. Not only does he draw upon his own years of experience as a pastor (both associate of counseling and senior pastor) and as a professor teaching counseling in seminary, he draws upon the best practices from two dozen counselors who have led counseling ministries in the local church or parachurch setting.
Throughout the book these two dozen counselors comment about their experience in creating counseling ministries at each stage of the process. In effect, it’s a little like a recovery group meeting. Dr. Kellemen teaches the main lesson which articulates the key aspects of one leg in the journey. Then each counselor gives a testimony about their successes, failures, and key life lessons on that point.
The result is a robust resource that provides detailed guidance without succumbing to a one-size-fits-all counseling model. Rather than giving a step-by-step process to a predetermined outcome, Dr. Kellemen takes you through a question-by-question process to determine what expressions of a counseling ministry would best fit your church and community.
A Small Word, But a Big Distinction
One of the primary emphases of this book is that it advocates for churches to become “a church of biblical counseling” rather than “a church with a biblical counseling ministry.” The difference is significant. A church with a biblical counseling ministry will see its counseling ministry serve exclusively as an “ER” of crisis cases that remained hidden until they were bursting with complexity.
A church of biblical counseling becomes more equipped and prepared to handle such crisis cases, but the counseling ministry interacts with the rest of the church (as a part of the disciple-making process) so that more individuals and families receive care before their struggles become life-dominating. The honesty and transparency of a counseling relationship begins to trickle into the life of the church to a degree that members are “doing life together” in Christian community.
The 4 E’s
If I were reading this review, I would want to know what the 4 E’s were. In keeping with the power-packed, highly-concentrated nature of the book, Dr. Kellemen was able to squeeze five E’s into his four E strategy: (1) Envisioning God’s Ministry, (2) Enlisting God’s Ministers for Ministry, (3) Equipping Godly Ministers for Ministry, and (4) Empowering/Employing Godly Ministers for Ministry.
If you look at those categories and find yourself thinking, “That seems like a process that could be used for any ministry,” then you are beginning to catch the value of this book. Dr. Kellemen is not spending a large amount of time teaching you a foreign process to develop a counseling ministry. If that were the case, you would have to teach your congregation the process and then begin creating the counseling ministry. However, because the book is built around sound, biblical leadership methods, a church that has launched other effective ministries will have no problem utilizing this resource.
What you will find in each E are the key questions and implications that need to be asked for developing a counseling ministry. For the pastor, elder, or other local church leader this should be very comforting. You will find guidance for what you don’t know within the framework with which you are familiar.
Counseling can be intimidating. If you are not slightly over-whelmed at the thought of starting a counseling ministry, you may lack the humility necessary to be a good counselor. With that in mind, one of the most effective ways I can conclude this review is to give you a sample from the book on one of counseling’s most intimidating subjects—legal liability.
On his ministry blog, Dr. Kellemen recently posted a six part series on “The Law and Church Counseling.” If you want to know the quality and type of resource you would be getting in Equipping Counselors for Your Church, I would encourage you to preview these posts.
The Law and Church Counseling: Part One – Caring Carefully
The Law and Church Counseling: Part Two – The Legal History and Climate
The Law and Church Counseling: Part Three – Scope of Care
The Law and Church Counseling: Part Four – Quality of Care
The Law and Church Counseling: Part Five – Building Safeguards Into Your Ministry
The Law and Church Counseling: Part Six – Counting the Cost
Other sample resources include:
This book meets a real need in Biblical Counseling – helping churches cultivate a counseling ministry that is tailored to the needs of their particular congregation and community. Over the last several decades Biblical Counseling has produced a large number of excellent resources, but it has not always been clear what a church was supposed to do with those resources. If you want to begin to explore that possibility with your church, I cannot think of a better book to guide you in that process.