At some point we must face a biblical reality: we are sinners in constant need of God’s grace of the gospel. Few moments should pass in between our actions of thanksgiving, praise, and worship to God because as we live in the gospel, we are reminded of its profound impact on our lives. However, we sometimes lack understanding of how that very gospel impacts the trials that we may confront. While the counseling discipline has grown immensely, its secular background fails to connect with the true needs of people and thus biblical counseling became a formal discipline within the church.
The most recent generations has seen the expansion of biblical counseling at an exponential rate, with the rise of counseling scholars, college & seminary programs, organizations, and more books than we could read in a lifetime. Like any discipline, the quality of books underneath the biblical counseling banner runs from one end to the other. While the majority are worthy of being discarded, the recent emphasis has brought forth people eager to teach biblical counseling with a priority placed on the Bible as the standard. The release of The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremey Pierre and Deepak Reju is one such book.
Both Pierre and Reju have pedigrees in the biblical counseling world; Jeremey Pierre as professor and chair of the biblical counseling and family ministry department and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor of Clifton Baptist Church and Deepak Reju as pastor of biblical counseling and family ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (and previously serving at Clifton Baptist Church as well). With plenty of articles, books, and experience behind their names, their is plenty to learn from them and it is no surprise that the two could come together for this book underneath the IX Marks banner.
For the topic it covers, the book is short (160 pages) and very basic. However, the author state outright the goal is not to be extensive, but to set a basic framework so that moving forward readers have a solid foundation to function within. Therefore the eight chapters are divided into three sections to mete out this goal:
- The Concept of Counseling (Chapters 1-3)
- The Process of Counseling (Chapters 4-6)
- The Context of Counseling (Chapters 7-8)
Both the format of the content and the function of the content serve the authors’ purpose well.
While dealing with a complex topic the authors take great care at making it understandable without losing purpose and meaning. And so a reading of the book will yield a lot of insight without having to labor intensely over what they are trying to say. In that understanding come three areas that make this book extremely beneficial:
- Practical: A book like this must be practical. If it is not easily put into practice then it yields nothing since the very goal of this is to learn how to do something better. Both Pierre and Reju have taken extra steps though to make it practical by providing outlines, sample questions and forms, and even outline a note taking method. The process of counseling section specifically deals with the function and content of the counseling sessions. However they do so while emphasizing that what is to be done can be adapted for individual churches, pastors, and members.
- Prayerful: Throughout the book the authors emphasize the need for pastoral prayer, both privately before and after meeting with individuals, but also with the counselee(s) during the meeting. Prayer, while often recognized as a necessary and intentional action of the Christian life is easily overlooked, especially in crisis. Therefore, I am appreciative of the fact that the authors are certain to point this out at various steps.
- Pastoral: Obviously we would expect this book to be very pastoral in nature, it is after all a reference for the pastor who engages in counseling. However, both Pierre and Reju, serving as pastors themselves, have a deep regard for the office of pastor within the church. Not taking this lightly, they offer sober reminders about the intensity that comes with a pastoral ministry. In doing so they encourage due diligence in one’s task. In this regard, I especially enjoy their closing chapters on developing a counseling ministry within the church, because their suggestion is simple: discipleship. I am convinced that discipleship is the most neglected task of the church. The model of our ministry to develop a sustaining church is discipleship. Therefore I appreciate not only the authors’ emphasis on discipleship but their description of it in such a way that connects it to counseling while also discussing practical ways to cultivate a church culture of discipleship.
Together, the development of content on practicality, prayer, and pastoral role creates a very good book.
You will be displeased with this book if you are looking for a ‘how to’ guide to solve specific issues, because that is not the intention of this book. However, in terms of understanding biblical counseling, both its role in the church, impact upon the church, and acceptance by the church, this is a great start. It lays out the major overarching aspects of counseling and engages pastors so that they may engage others.
To purchase a copy of The Pastor and Counseling click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free of charge from Crossway for the purposes of review. However my review is a response of my own reading of it and is not influenced by outside sources.