I was a fan of Shania Twain when her best-known song was "What Made You Say That?" I was touting Matt Redman as a worship leader and songwriter before churches were singing "Better Is One Day" and "Once Again" from his "The Friendship and the Fear" album - yes, I own his very early "Wake Up, My Soul" album. I discovered the only "international" PDI Ministries church (now Sovereign Grace Ministries) in the city of Surrey, British Columbia, before this Reformed & Charismatic movement rose to a prominence that belied its size and its youth. And if Bob Kellemen will forgive me for the analogy, I recognized that there was something distinct and valuable in this irenic yet biblical consultant, coach, and professor of biblical counseling when he first contacted me about contributing reviews to the humble Discerning Reader online review site. It doesn't take a Christian Simon Cowell to recognize someone with a gift to offer the entire Western Church, if the Church would only sit up and take notice.
At the same time, I was waiting for Bob to "arrive," to "come into his own" - which he has done with considerable aplomb in his latest book, which I dare to call his magnum opus and a tour de force (let conventional reviewing wisdom be cast into outer darkness, for Equipping Counselors for Your Church richly deserves both sobriquets). When Bob first sent me the manuscript, I soon realized this was a book I wanted and needed to soak in and not skim through for mere reviewing purposes. So, while not all my BlogThru efforts here on DR have gone as swimmingly as I would have liked, Equipping Counselors warrants such an approach, culminating in (what I hope will be) a summative review posted by the end of 2011.
As mentioned, Equipping Counselors is the climax of Bob's many decades of work in the biblical counseling and pastoring fields (the argument could be made that they are one in the same field). What this book is not: a resource only for senior pastors and denominational executives. It is also not a book about creating and equipping a "professional" corps of biblical counselors. No, Bob's vision is far more sweeping than that. Rather, this book is an apology for both formal and informal biblical counseling in the church, which Bob defines biblically as every member speaking the truth in love to each another. The aim is to cultivate Christians who are "4C" disciples: biblically convicted, Christlike in character, competent in counseling, and an integral part of Christian community.
Inasmuch as Equipping Counselors is an apology for churchwide biblical counseling, it also acts as a strategic planning manual: how to take your church from zero to every member as a counselor. In Part 1, Bob emphasizes that this is not a lickety-split set-up process, but could and should take months or even a year or two. The ministry moonwalk is best avoided (read the book!). After making a case that an entire church should be involved in counseling each other, Part 1 then describes the preparatory spadework that should ideally pre-date the launch of the envisioning process. Finally, before providing the steps of such a process, Bob shows what the envisioning process involved at one of his former churches - a church, incidentally, where biblical counseling wasn't even on the radar before he arrived.
While I am desperately trying to save some of my best insights for the summative review, the following needs to be said: every-member biblical counseling is not some new trend or phenomenon; it is simply the discipleship model that Christ's Church has followed for two thousand years, when it is operating healthily. I encourage you to buy the book and follow my BlogThrus over the next few weeks, possibly with the outcome of launching biblical counseling ministries in your churches in 2012!