Biblical Counseling Is Really About Discipleship
From Blogging Theologically by Aaron Armstrong
If someone came to you and said they wanted to start a biblical counseling ministry in your church, what might come to mind? That seems like a lot of work? Do we really need another ministry to administrate? After reading Bob Kellemen’s recently released book, Equipping Counselors for Your Church: The 4E Ministry Training Strategy, I’m convinced that’s the wrong question. Why? Because biblical counseling is really about discipleship.
The goal shouldn’t be to start a biblical counseling ministry in your church. The goal, Kellemen argues, should be that your church is a place of biblical counselors. “You don’t need another program,” he writes. “You want a congregation saturated by the vision of every-member ministry and equipped to offer one-another ministry. Even more, you want a congregation where every member is a disciple-maker” (pp. 33-34).
In this book, Kellemen unpacks his vision of “every-member, one-another ministry” while offering practical advice based on his decades-long experience in bringing counseling & discipleship to the core of a congregation’s, from planning and equipping to implementing and replicating.
There’s so much that’s compelling about this book that I couldn’t begin to do it justice (especially given its length), but here are a couple points that I found particularly helpful:
1. Kellemen’s understanding that we’ve wrongly defined biblical counseling as solving problems instead of discipleship. He writes:
We’ve made it a subset of discipleship focused on reactive work with persons struggling with sin. Instead, we should think of biblical counseling as synonymous with comprehensive personal discipleship. Biblical counseling is focused one-another ministry designed to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. (p. 35)
This is a hugely important distinction that moves counseling from a reactive discipline to a proactive one. Reactive ministry has its place certainly, and the concept doesn’t remove the need for qualified, licensed counselors who can deal with issues requiring a medical diagnosis. Kellemen’s every-member, one-another ministry concept encourages people to work out their salvation in community.
2. Kellemen’s principles of envisioning, enlisting, equipping, and empowering God’s people have a much broader application. Reading the book, I was struck at how easy it is to transplant his advice into a different context. He does a great job of providing specific application to the subject at hand, but it’s easy to go beyond it in a good way. If I were starting any ministry, I’d want to see what I could use from this book to help with envisioning what it could be and enlisting the right people.
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