Counseling is not a strength of mine. But, as a pastor it’s a part of the job and so I want to grow into the counseling ministry. This year I’ll be reading three books on the subject. I just finished this short into by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju: The Pastor and Counseling. The book divides into three sections: Concepts, Process, and Context. I explain those three here but I bring them up to highlight part of section three: Context.
The real strength of books from the 9Marks organization is their focus on the local congregation. No pastoral counseling can be separated out of the church context in which it occurs. Your church culture either encourages gospel-centered counseling or it discourages it. Pierre and Reju offer helpful ideas on cultivating a church discipleship culture that supports the pastor/member counseling relationship.
Here are 7 of my favorite quotes:
Loving someone means showing concern for his well-being, even if you are unable to fix his particular troubles.
The scent of superiority rather than humility is a stench to Jesus, since it is the opposite of his example.
A pastor should commend anyone who seeks help. Even if you later discover that the presenting trouble has little to do with the actual problem, you can celebrate the God-given humility the person is demonstrating in recognizing his or her need for help.
Be sure to open you Bible during the first meeting. If God’s Word really matters to the process of change. you need to show it.
Don’t be easy or simplistic in labeling what a person’s heart is worshipping. You are not on an idol hunt, as if these things could be easily labeled.
For your people’s sake, don’t accept their starting points or conclusions. Help them to consider other frames, other angles, other lighting that better draw attention to the redemptive hope in the picture.
We should strive to make church a place where being anonymous or nominal is difficult to pull off.
Members who seek counseling should understand from the beginning that as a ministry of discipleship, counseling is a part of a broader accountability to the church. Counseling is therefore a safe place for those struggling against sin, even if they fall often in that struggle. But counseling is not a safe place for those who willfully continue patterns of clear and unrepentant sin.
Have a Biblical counseling book your enjoy? Recommend it in the comments.