Sunday, November 8, 2015

Not all pastors like counseling. This book might help with that.

Anytime I see the IX Marks logo in the upper left-hand corner of a book cover I make some assumptions about the content of that book. I assume it will offer practical guidance on ministry from a solid theological base. I assume I'll know more and feel better equipped for service once I'm done reading it. I make these assumptions because my past experience with IX Marks titles has consistently delivered on these features, and The Pastor and Counseling is no different.

The book is coauthored by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju, but I didn't notice any significant distinction between writing styles, and I wouldn't be able to guess which chapters were written by whom. Both voices have blended into one, which makes for a positive reading experience you expect from reading a book by a single author.

Counseling is scary. I should know. I'm a pastor, and I've had many opportunities to meet one-on-one or two-on-two with people facing various life situations. Not having had any formal training, it's easy to believe that I have nothing to offer. But God's Word is sufficient to guide our faith and practice, both when gathered as a Christian community and when out and about in the world around us. If you are already operating from a Christian worldview, you're well on your way to being able to counsel others. What this book offers is a framework for counseling.

My prior experience with counseling has been somewhat haphazard and disorganized. I've seen many people blessed in spite of that, but I want the counseling I provide to be more helpful and purposeful than it has been. Pierre and Reju have given me the tools to do that. They divide their book into three parts. The first part looks at the purpose of counseling and reminds you that we should have a goal and an ascertainable end to the counseling. The second outlines some useful advice on the process from start to end. The third piece talks about how the church body should be involved, and how a pastor should handle bringing outside parties (like medical professionals) into the process. They round out the book with appendices including checklists, background forms, and a method for note taking.

I'm glad this was my first primer on biblical counseling. Doubtless there's much more to be learned, but starting well is important for ending well, and I can't think of a better place to start than with The Pastor and Counseling.

I received this book from Crossway Books in order to provide this review.

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