“…numerous studies indicate that pastors, even after graduation from seminary, feel inadequately prepared for the task of pastoral counseling.”
Gospel Conversations is not for the light reader. It is almost four hundred pages of in-depth teaching that will require focus and a steady determination to process the information to completion.
“We learn to be effective biblical counselors through face – to – face gospel ministry where we learn to speak the truth in love to one another.”
Dr. Kellemen begins by defining the foundations of Biblical Counseling while emphasizing the duty and qualifications of what it means to be a Biblical Counselor in the first of five sections.
“Typically, the first thing I do is pray that I will listen well and wisely out of a heart of love and a mind filled with gospel truth.”
From there, he moves on to plumb extensively the process of Biblical Counseling. Not just for the counselee but for the counselor as well.
Each chapter ends with a questions and answers section for the counselor called, ‘Maturing As A Biblical Counselor’ and ‘Counseling Others.’
Dr. Kellemen offers ‘tweet sized’ summaries of each chapter distinguishing his work from those of era’s gone by.
“In every aspect of biblical counseling by sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding, Christ’s gospel of grace is central.”
Gospel Conversations includes a substantial APPENDIXES section to support and place into practice the outworking of Dr. Kellemen’s guidance and instruction.
“The heart of healing involves journeying with people back to the heart of God.”
I would add a caveat or two.
If the reader is a young Christian or a novice to Biblical Counseling I would recommend they read this volume along with a mature Christian or seasoned Biblical Counselor.
I’ll give you an example of something I sought others to help me flesh out as I was reading and I’d consider myself no longer a young Christian but not yet a seasoned Biblical Counselor either.
On page 144, Dr. Kellemen recites a story regarding a woman named Octavia Albert in which he referred to her as ‘Jesus with skin on’. I found this phraseology somewhat confusing so I sought wise counselors and asked them about it.
I would learn that in ‘Christianese’ this phrase means, “To be the presence of Jesus to someone who is going through something painful.”
The desire to want to comfort another is understandable, however, Biblically we are not called to BE Jesus or HIS presence to others but rather we are called to point others TO Jesus.
Jesus had His skin on when He came as God-Man and Savior. We are called to be Christ-LIKE, not Christ, since we are mere humans. The distinction is pivotal for those who may be like me and come from a background of theological hodgepodge and need to wrestle through doctrinal considerations.
This is just one example of many you might ponder within this volume of work.
With that said, Dr. Kellemen does go on to share The Confessional Statement of The Biblical Counseling Coalition on page 183 in which it makes clear;
“We point people to a person, Jesus our Redeemer, and not to a program, theory or experience.”
There are areas discussed that even the most seasoned counselor or mature Christian may need to probe but certainly for the novice.
Anyone who delves into the depths of this volume will be challenged, experience growth and be better equipped for Gospel Conversations.
“In other words, biblical counseling, gospel conversations, soul care, and spiritual direction – whatever label we give it – is not a side ministry done by one or a few. Speaking gospel truth in love, sharing Scripture and soul, biblical counseling is the one – another ministry calling of the body of Christ.”
Purchase Gospel Conversations: How To Care Like Christ by Dr. Robert W. Kellemen
You can also visit Dr. Kellemen at: Biblical Counseling Coalition