Author Q&A: Equipping Biblical Counselors

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Today’s post is an author interview with Bob Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D. Dr. Kellemen is Academic Dean, Dean of Students, and Professor of Biblical Counseling at Faith Bible Seminary in Lafayette, Indiana. Bob is also the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries through which he speaks, writes, and consults on biblical counseling and Christian living. Dr. Kellemen served as the founding Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. For seventeen years, Bob was the founding Chairman of and Professor in the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. Bob has pastored four churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, have been married for forty-one years; they have two adult children, Josh and Marie, and three granddaughters. Dr. Kellemen is the author of twenty books including Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling and Gospel-Centered Family Counseling.

Bob, what’s the big idea behind Equipping Biblical Counselors: A Guide to Discipling Believers for One-Another Ministry? What would you like readers to take away from the book?

I had two assumptions as I wrote the book. First, pastors, counselors, educators, and church leaders are passionate about equipping God’s people for every-member ministry as biblical counselors and one-another ministers. Second, they are tired of seeing great effort expended on ‘programs’ that don’t launch, don’t last, or don’t result in leaving a legacy of loving leaders. So am I. That’s why in Equipping Biblical Counselors I offer a biblical, field-tested, best-practice approach to equipping God’s people for biblical counseling. As a result of reading the book, readers will be able to apply to their unique setting the ‘4E’ ministry training strategy of:

  • Envisioning God’s ministry,
  • Enlisting God’s ministers for ministers
  • Equipping godly ministers, and
  • Empowering godly ministers for ministry.

What motivated you to write Equipping Biblical Counselors?

By God’s grace, I’ve had the joy of launching and leading biblical counseling equipping ministries in four very diverse churches. Then, for the past quarter century I’ve had the privilege of teaching pastors and counselors the ‘4E’ process as a professor at Capital Bible Seminary, Crossroads Bible College, and Faith Bible Seminary. Additionally, for the last two decades I’ve consulted with hundreds of churches about the launch process. In each situation, people kept saying:

‘Dr. Kellemen, you need to turn this material into a book. There’s nothing else out there like this that provides a practical map without becoming a one-size-fits-all strait-jacket.’

So, it was really pastors, church leaders, biblical counselors, and students who motivated me to write Equipping Biblical Counselors.

Is the book only for equipping ‘biblical counselors,’ or is there a larger, broader focus? Who should read Equipping Biblical Counselors?

In my churches, classes, and consulting, I’ve had students and church leaders use these ‘4E’ principles to plant churches, to launch small group ministries, to start women’s ministries, to begin para-church organizations, and more. The comprehensive, field-tested, best practice principles fit for anyone who wants to move from any ministry launch to ongoing ministry leadership. While the focus is on ‘biblical counseling,’ the broader emphasis is on equipping for one-another ministry so that every member is not only a minister, but a disciple-maker. Anyone interested in applying the 2 Timothy 2:2 process in their ministry would be the right ‘audience’ for the book.

You note that in one sense you did not write this book alone, but with twenty-four best practice church partners. Tell us about how these two dozen leading churches impacted the book.

I’m convinced that no one person can possibly outline a comprehensive approach to church equipping. So, I enlisted twenty-four church ministry leaders to share their insights—in a multitude of counselors there is great wisdom. Among these two dozen churches are ‘mega-churches’ and ‘average size churches,’ and ‘small churches.’ There are churches that are predominantly Caucasian, African American, Asian American, and multi-cultural churches. I included urban, suburban, and rural churches. In every chapter I weave in their diverse insights that provide readers with a robust, relational GPS. In this way each church can apply the ‘4E’ principles in a way that uniquely fits their specific calling in their particular congregation and community.

You’re not writing out of academic theory, but out of real-life pastoral experience. How has your experience equipping believers in three churches impacted your writing of the book?

Mainly I’m seeking to help readers not to make the same mistakes I made! For example, my first church was a ‘mega-church’ of over 3,000 in an urban setting with a long history of extensive equipping ministries. My second church was a smaller rural church with little history of equipping the laity. Initially I made the huge rookie mistake of trying to plop down the ‘mega-church’ model on my second church. I quickly had to backpedal. That’s why in the book I teach ‘relational change management and biblical conflict resolution.’ Big picture—this is not a pie-in-the-sky book. I know personally the struggles and joys, the downs and ups of launching and leading equipping ministries—in four very different churches. I’m trying to share that ‘wisdom’ with my readers.

You already briefly mentioned the “4Es.” Big picture: what are these ‘4Es’ and could you summarize what happens if any one of them is neglected?

God ‘wired’ my brain with a focus on being comprehensive and ‘both/and.’ I’ve found how important this is when launching and leading biblical counseling and soul care ministries. In fact, in my consulting, I’m often asked to help churches to re-launch their ministries because something just didn’t ‘take.’ Once we start interacting, inevitably we discover that at least one of the 4Es was missing or minimized. Those 4Es are:

  1. Envisioning God’s Ministry: Jointly creating mission, vision, passion, and commission (MVP-C) statements that nourish the compassion, conviction, and connection needed to launch flourishing biblical counseling ministries.”
  2. Enlisting God’s Ministers for Ministry: Mobilizing ministers by nurturing a family and building a team prepared for change, skilled in conflict resolution, and connected to the MVP-C Statement.
  3. Equipping Godly Ministers for Ministry: Applying transformational transformational training strategies that comprehensively address the “4Cs” of biblical content, Christ-like character, counseling competence, and Christian community.
  4. Empowering Godly Ministers for Ministry: Overseeing the ongoing ‘organizing of the organism’ by leading ministries that are built to last, that grow from good to great, and that leave a legacy of loving leaders.

Equipping Biblical Counselors has a built-in discussion-application guide. How do you envision churches, para-church groups, Bible colleges, and seminaries using the book?

I like to say, ‘This is not your father’s equipping manual!’ Past approaches tend to be too academic (not written from the ‘trenches’ of real-life ministry), too uniformed (not written with the realization that every church and community is unique), and too ‘secular’ (not written from a biblical theology of equipping). Thus, I envision churches using Equipping Biblical Counselors as a workbook that a ministry leadership team walks through together. Launching and leading ministries is a relational process that God’s people share in a collegial way. The discussion-application guide helps ministry teams to interact in relational, practical ways so that they experience one-another community as they launch a one-another ministry.

Equipping Biblical Counselors has an extensive ‘Online Appendix’ with dozens of practical, user-friendly resources. Introduce our listeners to some of those resources.

People who have reviewed and recommended the book have made the proverbial comment more than once, ‘The Online Appendix is worth the price of the book!’ It is extensive: over 125 pages! It is practical: sample Mission-Vision-Passion-Commission Statements, sample Congregational Analysis Forms, sample Informed Consent Forms, sample Confidentiality Statements, sample Church Discipline Statements, and much more. While I’m convinced that every church must apply biblical equipping principles to their unique setting,

I’m also convinced that there’s no reason to ‘reinvent the wheel.’ The extensive Online Appendix provides ministry leaders with the head start that I wish I had in my four church equipping ministries.” While leaders don’t need to reinvent the wheel, it also is very helpful to be able to ‘tweak the wheel.” So, I provide all sixteen Appendix documents online as Word documents so that anyone can easily take my materials and make them fit their own ministry situation. Anyone can enjoy free access to download all sixteen Online Appendix documents here: Equipping Biblical Counselors: Appendices and Resources.

Thank you Bob for this in depth look at this church equipping resource. May God bear much fruit through the wisdom and experience shared.

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