Counseling has become one of the most important disciplines in ministry. It is very common today that pastors and church leaders pursue counseling degrees in addition to theology and biblical studies. That increased the need for counseling books and resources. Frustration comes when pastors who are not prepared in counseling cannot find literature on this topic for those who are not trained in counseling.
The book The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need, by Jeremy Pierre & Deepak Reju (Crossway, 2015) is one of those books that every pastor who wants to get introduced in the counseling ministry needs to read. This volume is part of the series 9Marks published by Crossway.
This book is written in a way anybody, counseling literate or not, can understand. That is important if the purpose for writing is that people can approach to counseling ministry without previous knowledge about this discipline. In part one, the authors present counseling as a process that comprises a beginning or initial stage. Initial goals are presented at first, as goals are the basic for a successful counseling intervention. They suggest potential counselors to begin by addressing the presenting problem in order to gain information about the situation the counselee is facing. After that they recommend to introduce the relevance of the Gospel in order to help people to grow in Christlikeness.
A very important point addressed by the authors is prioritization. They provide a series of recommendations to prioritize counseling a person over others. Time required, level of exploration required, Level of urgency, available gospel/oriented relationship, are the four factors the authors present as crucial factors to be taken into account when more than one person are in need of therapy.
Details are important in counseling, and for that reason Pierre and Reju include very important recommendations for pastor who are also ministering as counselors. Office accommodations are included in this book. These tips and recommendations are a valuable resource as some counseling books omit them.
Part two of the book is devoted to the counseling process in itself. Initial meeting, counseling relationship and connection issues, the exploration of the concern, providing hope, setting expectations, are the points the authors include as the basic issues that need to be addressed during the first session. Then they move toward laboring for change points. This section includes a set of questions the authors recommend to ask during counseling sessions. The final meeting chapter is an invaluable chapter that will help pastors to bring counseling process to its end in a progressive and effective way. A sermon is incomplete without an effective conclusion, and the same happens with counseling; there must be a closing session. The authors answer the questions of when and how should counselors to close the counseling process, as well as who is the responsible for closing that process. Elements of the final session are also addressed.
My final word on this book is that this is a must have for pastors who are aware of the importance of being skilled in counseling in order to provide basic counseling responses to people in crisis. While reading this book you will feel someone is showing you the required steps in the counseling process. The purpose of this book is not to make you feel as a psychologist, but as a biblical counselor, and it accomplishes its goal in a very thorough way.
I received an electronic copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.