About a month ago I told you about Bob Kellemen’s new book, Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ. It was a follow up to a book he published last year, Gospel-Centered Counseling. Along the same time that book was released, a volume of essays on the relationship of Scripture and counseling also came out. That was the second book that the Biblical Counseling Coalition published (this was the first). Now, they’ve recently published Biblical Counseling and The Church: God’s Care Through God’s People which is edited by Bob Kellemen and Kevin Carson.
If you look at the titles of the books, there is a nice progression. The first focused on defining counseling, specifically what biblical counseling is and isn’t. The second was essentially asking whether Scripture is generally sufficient for the counseling enterprise. Now, this volume is looking at the relationship of counseling to the local church. As such, it’s not necessarily a read straight thru sort of book. Rather, it is a useful reference for someone who is involved in the shepherding and care of their particular local church. Pastors would do well to have this on their shelf, but so would many small group leaders if they take their role seriously and also want to grow in their ability to shepherd well.
The first part of the book casts the vision for counseling within the local church. A key idea is that if your people are trained well in one-anothering and offering informal biblical counsel, your overall need for serious counseling is diminished (but will never go away because life). In the second part of the book the relationship of counseling and small group ministry is assessed. I found the chapter here on redemption groups particularly interesting since they have recently been implemented in our church by our pastoral resident (who came from Mars Hill and was in a group with the author of this chapter and the book Redemption, Mike Wilkerson). I suppose I could have asked Justin (the resident about the details), but reading this helped me understand the role these groups play in the local church and what their ultimate goal is.
The third part of the book has two chapters dealing with the relationship of biblical counseling, conflict resolution, and church discipline. While brief, this section I’m sure will prove helpful as a reference. The next part of the book is on actually equipping biblical counselors in the local church. An initial chapter casts vision and then the successive chapters offer advice and insight for implementing this kind of ministry in a large church, a midsize church, and then a “smaller” church. The chapters that follows this address implementing the ministry in a more predominantly multicultural church, with a final chapter on ethical concerns. The fifth part of the book is on the relationship of counseling and church outreach, which includes the academy and parachurch organizations.The final part of the book wraps up with a single chapter on biblical counseling in historical perspective and future prospects.
Overall, I think this is a helpful resource for primarily pastors and small group leaders to make use of. Doing counseling is unavoidable if you spend any time involved in discipleship or shepherding small to large groups of people. Because of that, we ought to be equipped to know how to do it well, and many best practices are outlined in the essays in this book. Especially when complimented by the other resources the Biblical Counseling Coalition has released, this book has the depth and accessibility to effectively shape whatever kind of counseling ministry is developing in your local church.
Bob Kellemen (general editor) & Kevin Carson (managing editor), Biblical Counseling and The Church: God’s Care Through God’s People. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, November 2015. 496 pp. Hardcover, $32.99.
Visit the publisher’s page
Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy!