Which Book Should I Read First?
From time to time (including this morning), I receive an email from someone who has purchased my Book Bundle 1—The Biblical Counselor’s Library (all 7 of my books at 45% off).
Today’s email read like this:
“I just purchased and received your seven-book-bundle. Thank you so much for your ministry. I am a pastor and just beginning to study and implement biblical counseling in my church. I’m wondering what you would recommend as far as which book to read in what order?”
Of course, my answer depends upon the background of the individual reader. However, an overview of my thinking behind the books could assist you in your “reading strategy.”
1. The Biblical Foundation: Soul Physicians
In almost every case, I would recommend that you read Soul Physicians first. It provides the biblical/theological foundation for biblical counseling. It asks and answers life’s seven ultimate questions. Soul Physicians is a biblical remedy to secular psychology.
2. How to Care Like Christ: Spiritual Friends
Next, I would recommend that you read Spiritual Friends. It is written in “workbook” format to equip you (individually or in small groups) to develop 22 biblical counseling “skills” or “relational competencies” so that you learn “how to care like Christ.” Spiritual Friends is a relational and biblical remedy to “take two verses and call me in the morning.”
3. Multiplication, Not Addition: Equipping Counselors for Your Church
With the biblical and practical foundation laid, next I would recommend that you read Equipping Counselors for Your Church. Without a book like this, we might end up doing the work of the ministry (which is wonderful), but not equipping others also to do the work of the ministry (which is God’s calling for church leaders). Equipping Counselors for Your Church provides best practice principles for envisioning, enlisting, equipping, and empowering the entire congregation for one-another ministry.
4. A Biblical Approach to Suffering: God’s Healing for Life’s Losses
Biblical counseling has historically been strong in nouthetic confrontation of sin. In God’s Healing for Life’s Losses, I address parakaletic comforting for suffering. In “gift-book” format, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses is helpful for the person suffering loss and for the biblical counselor, as it guides readers through 8 “roadmap markers” on the biblical journey through suffering and grief toward Christ’s healing hope.
5. Applying Truth to Life: Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure
In all of my books, I seek to demonstrate how to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. I seek to show the relevancy and sufficiency of God’s Word. In Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure, I walk with readers through Philippians to develop a comprehensive and compassionate approach to addressing anxiety. This “biblical map” can then be applied to searching the Scriptures for wisdom for other issues. (Coming in 2013 will be another P & R Booklet that uses the same approach: Sexual Abuse: Beauty for Ashes).
6. and 7. The History of Biblical Counseling: Beyond the Suffering and Sacred Friendships
I originally envisioned books 6 and 7 as parts of one large book. Here was my thinking:
• Theology of Biblical Counseling: Soul Physicians
• Methodology of Biblical Counseling: Spiritual Friends
• History of Biblical Counseling: Sacred Friends
The “original” Sacred Friends would have traced biblical counseling and one-another ministry throughout 2,000 years of church history. That would have been a massive volume!
Instead, I have penned two separate, smaller books on specific aspects of historical one-another ministry.
In Beyond the Suffering, Karole Edwards and I explore the history of one-another ministry/biblical counseling in the Black Church. Read Beyond the Suffering to celebrate and learn from the legacy of African American soul care and spiritual direction.
In Sacred Friendships, Susan Ellis and I explore the history of one-another ministry/biblical counseling through the legacy of godly Christian women. Read Sacred Friendships to celebrate and learn from the legacy of women heroes of the faith.
These two books also teach the vital lesson that the history of biblical counseling is not simply the history of “a bunch of dead white guys!” Biblical counseling is, by God’s sovereign grace, a multiethnic history of godly women and men who spoke the truth in love.
For dozens of free resources related to each book, please visit the RPM Ministries Writings site and then click on the link beneath each book.
Join the Conversation
Which of my books on biblical counseling and one-another ministry would you read in which order? Why?
RPM Ministries: Equipping You to Change Lives with Christ’s Changeless Truth