A while back, Bob Kellemen, who heads up RPM Ministries, sent me a copy of his latest book Equipping Counselors For Your Church. Monday’s review of The Biblical Counseling Movement was a kind of setup for this mini-series since Bob stands in line with the biblical counseling movement and is the Executive Director for the Biblical Counseling Coalition. This book is mainly a “how-to” manual for churches who are already on board with the movement, or at least have leadership on board. Because of that, the specific audience who will find this book most useful are lead pastors or people in my situation who have at least somewhat of a say in how the ministry of the church develops. If you’re not in a position of leadership though, this is a great book to recommend to someone who is.
As Bob tells us in the opening pages,
My purpose in writing Equipping Counselors For Your Church is to assist leaders like you in equipping people confidently, wisely, lovingly, and biblically. I want this book to be like a personal conversation with your private consultant – coming alongside you, walking step-by-step, hand-in-hand, to equip you to fulfill your Ephesians 4:11-16 calling to empower the body of Christ to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth (19).
Additionally, Bob’s secondary purpose is “to launch a revolution in every-member ministry.” As he continues,
This book’s 4E Ministry Training Stategy offers a twenty-first century, best practice manual for Christ-centered, church-based, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally informed mobilization of the priesthood of all believers. It assists churches to become places not simply with biblical counseling ministries, but of biblical counseling (20).
In other words, the first objective is to create a climate of counselors. Only then would it be a good idea to move on to a formal counseling ministry within the church.
In outlining his 4E Ministry Training Strategy, Bob pictures the process as a four lap relay race:
- Lap One: Envisioning God’s Ministry – Core Values
- Lap Two: Enlisting God’s Ministers for Ministry – Connected People
- Lap Three: Equipping Godly Ministers for Ministry – Coached People
- Lap Four: Employing/Empowering Godly Ministers for Ministry – Comprehensive Strategy
For today, we’re going to look at the first two laps.
Envisioning God’s Ministry
In a nutshell, this section of the book is dedicated to explaining “how to jointly create church-wide and ministry-specific MVP-C Statements that nourish the compassion, conviction, and connection needed to launch flourishing training ministries” (21-22). It takes up three chapters, the first of which is dedicated to “catching God’s vision for the entire church” (27). Chapter 2 is an explanation of the tools you need to diagnose congregational “heart health.” All of the groundwork in these two chapters sets the reader up for the introduction of the MVP-C in chapter 3. Doubtless you are wondering what an “MVP-C” is, so let me just tell you: it’s a Mission, Vision, Passion, and Commission Statement. There is no one size fits all statement, so this is why we need to first catch God’s vision for all churches, and then understand where your church fits in that context. To this end, chapter 3 helps you learn how to develop congregation-wide and ministry-specific statements, while chapter 4 is aimed at counseling ministry team specific statements.
At the beginning of every section, Bob gives us “Reader-Oriented-Learning-Objectives,” which I think for the purposes of this review are worth quoting in full. After reading this first section of the book, readers should be equipped to (28-29):
- Be a catalyst for congregation-saturated shift to the ministry mindset that changes everything (every member a disciple-maker)
- Be a spiritual cardiologist who diagnoses the heart health of your congregation and community, to a establish a baseline for envisioning God’s future dream
- Champion the biblical meaning of and necessity for jointly crafting congregation-wide and ministry-specific MVP-C statements
- Guide your biblical counseling ministry team in jointly crafting a ministry-specific MVP-C Statement
Enlisting God’s Ministers for Ministry
Once the MVP-C statements are developed, the next section of the book focused on “how to mobilize ministers by nurturing a family and building a team prepared for change, skilled in conflict resolution, and connected to the MVP-C Statement (22). This section is considerably shorter, but covers first, “how to shepherd congregational transformation,” (128) and second, “how to mobilize ministers.” Chapter 5 takes its cues from Nehemiah and Paul, while chapter 6 takes cues from Jesus and Paul again. Specifically, these chapters equip the reader to (129):
- Shepherd a congregational transformation that unites your entire congregation around the right Person (Christ) and the right purposes (loving God and others)
- Mobilize ministers so that you are able to match the right people to the right ministry for the right reasons at the right time in the right way – relationally
There is only a single appendix for this section, and it is a sample of a congregational vote form to being the processing of developing a biblical counseling ministry. Our particular church is not a congregational model, but is elder led, but the form could obviously be adapted to suit that forum.
Though I am not yet in a position to launch a biblical counseling ministry within our church, this section has given me much to think through and one very important reminder. I tend to forget that you should put time into developing something like an MVP-C statement. I want to just jump into getting stuff done and so do not always formulate a specific vision for the end goal. These opening chapters are a good reminder that any ministry worth starting within your church is worth starting well and that means really putting thoughts in the Mission, Vision, Passion, and Commission involved.
Additionally, I think the vision casting foundation that Bob helps the reader lay in these opening chapters could be reappropriated to a variety of ministry launches. For instance, I am more in line to launch an adult education ministry at our church. I see this as closely related to a counseling ministry, and so in some ways the principles Bob explains in this section could be transferred to the development of a different ministry within your church. As such, I should probably put time in thought into developing a MVP-C for that particular ministry so that it moves from just being an idea on the drawing board to a well formulated goal for the church.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the next two laps, and Friday we’ll close out with some short summary thoughts!