Part 3 of Equipping Counselors for Your Church is entitled “Equipping Godly Ministers for Ministry.” Initially this title struck me as quite a hefty claim for 100 pages of print. Could this section truly and definitively equip godly ministers (i.e., all Christians) for ministry, as per Ephesians 4:12? Obviously not everything about training ministers can be covered comprehensively in only 100 pages. But in as much as 100 pages is ample space in which to put forward an approach, a strategy, a vision for equipping saints to do the work of ministry, Bob has risen to the challenge. He accomplishes his aim by packaging this strategy into what he calls the 4C approach: Biblical Content/Conviction, Christlike Character, Counseling Competence, and Christian Community. This 4C approach informs goals and objectives, curriculum and resources, and strategies and methods. Bob resists spelling out these areas, aware that each church’s situation is different, but he does provide a much-needed counseling lexicon for pastors and their people.
The first thing Bob does is to puncture the perception that he is, and always has been, an expert. While he now feels most comfortable in the role of coach, whether of wrestling or of counseling, he didn’t always feel that way. When training his first batch of counselors he suddenly imagined himself as “a kid in his dad’s suit” and had the courage to share the image with the class. Sharing this image with the reader accomplishes the same thing as it did in that inaugural session: putting the beginner and/or the reticent at his or her ease. Counseling ministries will begin in churches because God grants the faithful a vision and commensurate equipping. In fact, paraprofessionals are often more effective than professionals, the data says. But we do not trust in data – we trust in the name and the word of the Lord our God.
The Word is crucial. Or perhaps I should say, the Word are crucial. Grammatically incorrect, yes, but theologically sound: God’s written Word is sufficient for counseling (in that it provides the foundation for counseling, not that it provides specifics about every single issue inherent to the human condition) and God’s incarnate Word is the source of the counselor’s confidence, character, and even competence. We cannot possibly ignore the unrivalled counseling competence of the most gifted Spiritual Director in the history of the universe: Jesus Christ.
Bob then spends two chapters answering the question, “What makes Biblical Counseling biblical?” As I skim through these two chapters once again, having read them thoroughly a few weeks ago, I am struck once again by the wealth of this material. Therefore, I am going to counsel you to read these chapters yourself in order to obtain Bob’s answers, because my attempt at reproducing the answers here will result in one of two unwanted outcomes: replicating the entire two chapters or shortchanging them. Finally, the fourth and final chapter in this section describes the time frame and sequence of Bob’s first training cohort. But he doesn’t simply say “here’s how it worked for me. Now go!” Rather, he provides strategies a leader can pre-plan into the sessions, as well as in-the-moment techniques to capitalize on the direction the session is taking, or failing to take, whichever the case may be.
Equipping Counselors is not a trend, not a quick-fix, and not a band-aid solution. It is the foundation of one-anothering in Christ's Church. Equipping Counselors is more than a must-read; it is a must.