There are four criteria I look for in a Biblical Counseling Resource:
1. A strong Gospel-centered approach.
2. Personal application to my own heart.
3. Equipping for my personal ministry as a counselor, mentor and trainer.
4. Equipping for my students to grow their knowledge and skill as counselors and mentors.
Dr. Bob Kellemen’s new work “Gospel-Centered Counseling” from the Equipping Biblical Counselors series did not disappoint in any of the four criteria. The first of a two-part series, this book offers a Biblical approach for helping others. The second book to be released later, “Gospel Conversations” promises to pick up where this book left off by training readers to develop Biblical Counseling competencies. This is an important equipping series for a new generation of Biblical Counselors.
Strong Gospel-centered approach:
Bob is quick to explain the term “gospel-centered” so that the reader understands that this is not just a “bandwagon” he has jumped on or the use of a “buzzword.”
He has done an excellent job explaining what gospel centeredness truly is and why it is a necessary approach to counseling.
“I’d prefer to think gospel centeredness reflects Paul, who said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16). Introduction, p.15
Bob weaves case studies in and out of this text. Anytime we read case studies, of course we hope to have our counseling skills honed. But we should also look at our own heart issues in those places where we can relate to the counselee. I found myself relating to various aspects of the life stories that are used to show us how the counselor guides the counselee in the process of heart change. Anyone who has counseled others knows that our own hearts are often changed in the process along with the counselee's. This type of relating is something I want to always do in my own counseling and what I want my counseling students to learn to do as well.
Equipping for my personal ministry:
It is a breath of fresh air to have such a truly gospel-centered “text book” in this season of counseling ministry. I was challenged to consider my own approach to counseling by the “8 Ultimate Life Questions” that headlined much of the book’s teaching. The book builds on concepts based on these 8 questions such as “Where can we find answers?” and “Who is God and how can we know Him personally?” as well as “How do we find peace with God?” and “How do people change?” and more.
The answers to the 8 questions are found in God’s Word itself, and we are taken there throughout the text. Bob skillfully and thoroughly takes us through theology and practical application in a user-friendly manner that is applicable to both experienced and new counselors.
I most appreciated the practical discussion on “theology for life.” We are taken on a journey throughout the book following Paul’s ministry in the book of Colossians where many counseling riches are mined. Bob points out in chapter 15 that we are always drawn back to the critical question “What is our source of wisdom?” We are given a systematic theology lesson all throughout “Gospel-Centered Counseling” that covers ten essential doctrines.
“Theology is for life – for life in our broken world. It is an extremely secular, Christless worldview that assumes that we could possibly address life’s ultimate questions apart from God’s sufficient Word.” Chapter 15, p. 250
Equipping for my students:
I plan to add Gospel-Centered Counseling to my recommended reading list for my counseling students. I believe that this book could serve as a “mini-textbook” of sorts (although the content is rich, deep and far from “mini”!) It will serve as an excellent reinforcement and addition to the curriculum. It is a one of a kind resource that brings an experienced counselor’s wisdom to the reader for their personal benefit and for the benefit of their ministry.
As counseling issues are presented, Bob carefully applies the gospel - the drama of redemption - bringing hope and focusing on the goal of Christ-likeness. This is critical for any student to learn early on.
“Whether facing suffering or battling sin, our focus is Christ-centered -- compassionately helping people to respond to what they’re facing fact-to-face with Christ so they become more like Christ.” Chapter 15, p. 249
Bob’s relational and comfortable writing style makes reading this book a joy. He has a way with words, using “tweet-size phrases” to condense concepts in to a user-friendly format that is easy for us to understand. I read this book one time through for the purpose of review. I am currently reading it a second time through because it is so rich and full of concepts that I want to further digest. This book will be a lasting resource in my ministry and in yours as well. No matter what kind of one-another ministry you serve, you will benefit from this valuable work.
I’m looking forward to the release of the second book in this equipping series!