BlogThru: Equipping Counselors for Your Church, Part 2

Posted by Mark Tubbs
In BlogThrus
Tagged Bob Kellemen, Biblical counseling
December 28, 2011 @ 11:43 PM

For context, please see my blogthru of Part 1.

Part 2 of Equipping Counselors for Your Church by Bob Kellemen is the shortest section in the book, yet contains the content that may take a church the longest time to implement.

Entitled "Enlisting God's Ministers for Ministry," Kellemen uses this section to lay the groundwork for the biblical counseling training. Wisely, he advocates a careful and collaborative approach for cultivating ownership of a biblical counseling ministry among the church rank-and-file long before the training is even scheduled. A typo on the second page of chapter 5 amusingly but aptly underscores the ire raised among some church members whenever change of any kind is proposed. A section beginning halfway down this page is erroneously subtitled "Shifting Teutonic Plates" instead of the correct “Shifting Tectonic Plates.” A mental image of charging Germanic warriors straight out of a Wagner opera is not amiss in this instance, as anyone who has endured church conflict knows firsthand.

"Before you change church structure," writes Kellemen, "seek to shepherd changed hearts." Yet again showing the wisdom of Scripture and experience, Kellemen does not over-extend a human pastor's role, for only the Holy Spirit can change hearts. Pastors are "merely" commissioned to shepherd hearts changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Though brief, this section was refreshing on numerous levels. Kellemen employs Nehemiah's leadership qualities in a fresher and more faithful way than many preachers through the decades have done. He uses Old Testament Nehemiah and New Testament Paul in harmonious counterpoint, demonstrating how these two leaders were themselves changed people so that they in turn could shepherd others through change. The primary change being, as Kellemen is at pains to point out, reconciliation with God leading to whole-life worship.

This type of transition must be dialogical, even trialogical (you-me-God), says Kellemen. There is a right way and a wrong way to implement change, and focusing on the ministry at the expense of people is the wrong way. We must not fail to communicate, for the sake of all involved and for the sake of the fledgling ministry itself. Rather than desperate recruitment of any and every warm body to fill the chairs in the training room, people need to be invited to connect to a vision.

What excited me most in these two chapters was the "best practice" section early in chapter 6. In a page-long bullet-point list, Kellemen's "Disciple-Making Champions" from all over America suggest ways to saturate the congregation with passion for "one-another ministry" – speaking the truth in love as a normative part of church life. To scan this list, however, is to realize that many churches will require a paradigm shift in church culture. Is starting a biblical counseling ministry worth such a shift? I say yes. Even more importantly, Christ says yes: he desires his church to overflow with one-anotherness, and we should be content with nothing less.

Kellemen's book may have run to 500 pages had he listed resources to assist a church in changing its culture. If I may be so bold, here is a list of selections that spring to mind:

Compelled by Love: The Most Excellent Way to Missional Living by Ed Stetzer & Philip Nation (New Hope Publishers, 2008)

Creating Community: An Every-Member Approach to Ministry in the Local Church by David Prior (NavPress, 1993)

The Relational Way: From Small Structures to Holistic Life Connections by Scott Boren (TOUCH Publications, 2007)

Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson (Crossway Books, 2012)

What Is A Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti Anyabwile (Crossway Books, 2008)

Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God by Joshua Harris (Multnomah, 2011)

Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck (Moody, 2009)

The Gospel-Centered Church by Steve Timmis & Tim Chester (Good Book Co, 2002)