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Biblical Counseling and the Church Interview

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September 14, 2015

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BCC Staff Note: In this Biblical Counseling Coalition Author Interview Q & A, we connected with Dr. Bob Kellemen to learn more about the BCC’s third collaborative book: Biblical Counseling and the Church: God’s Care through God’s People. This book completes the BCC’s “foundational trilogy,” following the first two books, Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling and Scripture and Counseling.

BCC: “Bob, please tell our readers about the BCC’s vision for publishing and how Biblical Counseling and the Church: God’s Care through God’s People fits into that vision.”

BK: “When we launched the Biblical Counseling Coalition in 2010, we held firmly to two anchoring purposes: building collaborative relationships about biblical counselors and providing robust resources for the church. Our first three books, Biblical Counseling and the Church: God’s Care through God’s People, Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling, and Scripture and Counseling beautifully fulfill this vision as each book has had between two dozen and three dozen co-authors.

Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling offers a robust, compassionate, and thorough introduction to the theology and methodology of biblical counseling. Scripture and Counseling delves deeply and relevantly into a core essential of biblical counseling—the sufficiency of Scripture—addressing it by moving beyond stereotypes and moving into the relevancy, authority, and profundity of God’s Word for life in a broken world. Our latest book, Biblical Counseling and the Church is the natural next step or next area of focus, because the biblical counseling movement has always been a church-based and congregation-focused endeavor.”

BCC: “Let’s start with the co-authors. Who are the contributors?”

BK: “I hesitate to start listing names because with 34 co-authors we don’t have room in this interview to name them all. Suffice it to say, they are a veritable “who’s who” of leaders in the biblical counseling movement—Sr. pastors, counseling pastors, biblical counselors, executive directors, Christian conciliators, educators, authors. For example, two Sr. pastors, Brad Bigney and Steve Viars, co-author the opening chapter, ‘A Church of Biblical Counseling.’ A counseling pastor and a professor of biblical counseling, Robert Cheong and Robert Jones, respectively, co-authored the chapter, ‘Biblical Counseling, the Church, and Church Discipline.’ Two executive directors co-authored the chapter on ‘Biblical Counseling, the Church, and the Para-Church’—Heath Lambert of the ACBC and David Powlison of the CCEF.”

BCC: “If that’s a sampler of the authorship of Biblical Counseling and the Church, who then is your audience?”

BK: “My co-editor, Kevin Carson, and I encouraged every co-author, as they wrote, to envision the ‘average’ congregation in America and around the world. We asked them to write for the person who never heard of ‘biblical counseling,’ or who perhaps heard of it, but had some hesitancies or stereotypes about biblical counseling. We asked them to write not for the scholar or academic, though this book surely is valuable in college, graduate schools, and seminary settings, but to write for the solo pastor in the small rural church, the associate pastor in the mid-size suburban church, the small group leader in any size church…for the person in the pew and the pastor in the pulpit.

Kevin and I also asked our co-authors to write with a ‘positive voice.’ While none of us fear expressing what we are against or exposing error, we sought a positive presentation of the power of one-another ministry, of the effectiveness of the personal ministry of the Word in the local congregation. That’s why we subtitled the book, God’s Care through God’s People. ‘Biblical counseling’ is not some shrouded mystery that happens in ‘the counseling office.’ Instead, biblical counseling is what happens whenever two or more believers gather together to share Christ’s gospel truth in love. We want every person who reads Biblical Counseling and the Church to say, ‘That’s the kind of one-another ministry I want to see occurring in our congregation!’”

BCC: “What about the scope and outline of the book—what did you cover in Biblical Counseling and the Church?”

BK: “We included six parts or sections in the book. Part 1 is, More Than Counseling: A Vision for the Entire Church. This section highlights the idea that we don’t simply want a church with biblical counseling—some specialist counseling in a secluded office. Instead, we want a church of biblical counseling—where one-another ministry and speaking the truth in love saturates every relationship in every congregation. Part 2 highlights Biblical Counseling and Small Group Ministry. What a powerful section this is as readers are exposed to four cutting-edge, best-practice models of how to seamlessly unite one-another ministry, biblical counseling, and small group ministry. In Part 3—Biblical Counseling and Conflict Resolution—three experts in these two united fields explain the relationship between biblical counseling, church discipline, conflict, and conflict resolution.

Part 4 is a personal favorite of mine—Equipping Biblical Counselors. Here we have eleven biblical counseling leaders explaining how to equip every Christian to speak the truth in love—in the ‘smaller’ church, in the ‘mid-size’ church, in the ‘larger’ church, in the ‘multiethnic’ church, and in ‘international’ ministry. This section also addresses legal and ethical issues in equipping counselors in the local church. Part 5 explores Biblical Counseling and Outreach. What’s the relationship between counseling and evangelism? Between counseling and community outreach? Between counseling in the church and the para-church? Between the church and the academy? In the final section, Part 6, we bring together one of the founders of the modern biblical counseling movement—Howard Eyrich, and one of the new generation of younger leaders in the movement—Jonathan Holmes. Together they paint us a picture of the past, present, and future of biblical counseling.”

BCC: “So, what’s your dream for the impact of Biblical Counseling and the Church?”

BK: “Having pastored for a dozen years, and having trained pastors for two decades, I’ve noticed something in our Evangelical church world. When it comes to the pulpit ministry of the Word—preaching—we understand the centrality of God’s Word. We could not imagine a church where the preached Word was not an essential aspect of the life of God’s people. Yet, when it comes to the personal ministry of the Word—one-another ministry, biblical counseling—sometimes we think it is unimportant—an ‘adjunct’ or ‘sideline’ ministry for the few. Or, we think counseling is important, but we minimize the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word in personal ministry—replacing it with the wisdom of the world.

I say all of that to say that I pray for the day when people will look back on our day and say, ‘You mean back in your day, you had to convince people that sharing God’s truth in love with each other should be the common experience of every congregation!?’ In other words, I pray that Biblical Counseling and the Church will continue a ‘reformation’ of the church where we see the centrality of God’s Word for daily life both in the pulpit ministry of the Word and in the personal ministry of the Word. I pray for the day when ‘biblical counseling’ will simply be synonymous with Ephesians 4:11-16, where pastors equip God’s people to speak the truth in love to one another so that the entire body grows up into Christ, who is the Head.”

BCC: “We join you in praying for that day, Bob. How can people learn more about Biblical Counseling and the Church?”

BK: “Thanks for asking. People can go to our BCC Store, not only to order copies of Biblical Counseling and the Church at 40% off, but also to read endorsements by leading pastors, counselors, and educators, to read the Foreword by Paul Tripp, and more.”

BCC: “Thank you, Dr. Kellemen, for interviewing with us. And thank you and Dr. Carson for your leadership in bringing together a collaborative team of nearly three dozen leaders to craft Biblical Counseling and the Church.”

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