Reading Reflection:

Equipping Counselors for Your Church, Robert W. Kellemen (P&R, 2011) This is a topic that I have been interested in lately, and a book that I’ve been eager to dig into. With my reading stack being rather tall these days, I’ve decided to read this 434-page book in the four helpful sections in which it has been divided. I’m basically tackling a section in between my other reads. So, having read the first section, I thought I would reflect on the need for more purposeful relationships in our church. Kellemen puts it like this:
We have wrongly defined biblical counseling so that it is about solving problems. 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. We don’t want to create a ministry mindset where the only way people can relate to one another is by discussing their problems. The goal is to move people forward in Christlikeness whether or not they are facing specific crisis problems (35-36).
This seems like such a “duh” moment for the church, doesn’t it? Kellemen connects counseling with encouragement, equipping, and discipleship. Living out the implications of the gospel is something that we do in community. My pastor is currently preaching through Galatians, and today’s sermon title was The Struggle of Your Spiritual Life, on Gal. 5: 13-26. When applying how Christians are to walk in the Spirit, he made the comparison with how soldiers march and run in step. He emphasized that Christians do not run alone. We maintain unity by keeping in step, and we don’t leave the fallen behind. As the Spirit works most commonly in the ordinary means of grace, we need to keep in step with his usual methods. Don’t we all need counseling? And not just in times of crisis, but in the form of gospel encouragement? Are we failing to provide this for our Christian brothers and sisters? The title of the sermon mentioned already assumes that there will be struggle in the Christian life. Kellemen’s vision is to equip us to build an equipping culture. He encourages every church member to be speaking God’s truth in love to one another. That got me thinking.  We certainly need the encouragement and training in this book. We need to expand our idea of Christian counseling. This all boils down to purposeful, gospel-centered relationships in our churches.  I have often heard, and lamented myself, something like: "I’m just not sure there’s really anyone to talk to for advice in my church when I am seeking guidance." But I wonder if the problem lies more with the fact that we are not putting ourselves out there, sharing our vulnerabilities. One thing that outsourced counseling has provided is anonymity. We can air out our issues to a stranger, and continue on. While I really like the challenges in this book to step up as a disciple-maker, I am also being challenged to put myself under the guidance of my godly brothers and sisters to be discipled. After all, we are different from the world—we don’t run alone.