Friday, September 23, 2011

Author Interview: Equipping Counselors for Your Church

Today is the release day for Bob Kellemen's new book Equipping Counselors for Your Church! As a result, I am posting the video trailer for the book and sharing my author interview (including, but not limited to, questions about moving from knowledge to wisdom and building deep relationships). Enjoy!

Elizabeth: "In your video trailer for Equipping Counselors for Your Church, you say that the audience for this book is anyone committed to and passionate about one-another ministry. What do you hope that the average lay reader will take away from his/her reading of this book?"
Dr. Kellemen: "Thanks so much, Elizabeth for your thorough engagement with the book. The number one message I pray the average “lay” reader will take away: “Don’t take a back seat to anyone!” Based upon God’s Word, in particular in the book I highlight Romans 15:14 and Ephesians 4:11-16; God’s people are competent to counsel. The second message is: When Paul says Christians are competent to counsel, he specified four areas of competency that we all need equipping in: biblical content, Christlike character, counseling/relational skillfulness, and Christian community. So: the two messages are: You can do it! Here’s where you need to be equipped to do it!"
Elizabeth: "Your subtitle is “The 4E Ministry Training Strategy”. Can you summarize why it is helpful to have a formal, systematic process for casting a vision (envisioning), enlisting, equipping, and empowering a group of members for ministry of the Word?"

Dr. Kellemen: "Process is a great word. I would add one more: relational, so that we highlight a relational process. People are tired of programs (so am I!). I’m not offering a program, but a relational process that each unique church can utilize in a congregation-specific manner. With that background, back to your question. God has “wired” my brain to think “comprehensively.” The “4Es” provide a comprehensive relational process churches can use to move from launch to leadership to leaving a legacy. In my consulting, all the time I see churches doing one or two of the “Es,” and then struggling to figure out why the ministry is filled with false starts. The “4Es” offer a “four lap ministry training strategy” so we get off the starting block, run the race effectively, and finish the race for God’s glory."
Elizabeth: "You write: “We need to develop the type of ongoing ministry structure that enables them, through God’s empowering, to employ their gifts for God’s glory” (pg. 163). How can leaders strike a balance between developing a ministry structure while avoiding becoming program driven?"

Dr. Kellemen: "That’s a great question that I addressed somewhat in my response to question two. In the book I discuss our tendency to go to extremes: either all spontaneous or all structured. Instead, I encourage “organizing the organism”--we are a living, breathing family, and all families require freedom within boundaries--relational structure. In the book, I illustrate how Jesus in Matthew 10 provide an entire chapter of “instructions” on how to “do” the ministry--and no one was ever more relational than Christ. I also illustrate the structure we find within the early church in Acts 2--and no church was more relational than the church in Acts. I also illustrate the beautiful “balance” of spontaneity and structure in the Black Church under enslavement--and their one-another ministry was incredibly relational. We need to be both/and: organism and organization, spontaneity and structured. The book develops this concept throughout."

Elizabeth: "How do you help your trainees move from knowledge of “Christ’s Changeless Truth” (Biblical Content) to wisdom (applied knowledge)?"

Dr. Kellemen: "Pray! Throughout Equipping Counselors for Your Church I highlight the principle that you become a counseling ministry by giving and receiving biblical counseling. You learn to be a biblical counselor by receiving biblical counseling. A major weakness that I’ve seen as I’ve consulted with biblical counseling churches is that we tend to be all lecture/head knowledge, but little “lab” and heart-to-heart ministry. The “lab” component of training means not only that you learn “skills” of counseling, but that as a training group we open up to one another to receive care, comfort, and loving confrontation. We apply truth to our lives and thus learn how to help others to apply God’s truth to their daily lives and relationships."

Elizabeth: "Can you give an example of how you equip counselors to relate truth to life?"

Dr. Kellemen: "I give several examples in the book from my own life, including the very first training group I ever led (long, long ago...). After the “lecture” component, we took a few minute break and then shifted our chairs in a circle. I was totally comfortable as the leader in the lecturer role. But then in the lab role, where I couldn’t depend upon my notes and keep things “under control,” I had an image go through my mind. I saw myself as a ten-year-old boy in my Dad’s oversized suit with my feet unable to touch the floor. I had a choice to make: attempt to ignore that image, or be honest with myself and the group. I choose honesty. For the next 90 minutes, we all choose honesty. We all shared how we were terrified at the thought of counseling others. As we shared our stories, we explored God’s story together and applied His truth to our fears. We learn to counsel others by opening up to give and receive counsel from each other--the very first night of our training."

Elizabeth: "We live in an age where people tend to be a lot more individualistic and busy. How do you encourage people to build deep relationships where one-another Biblical fellowship, ministry, and equipping become the norm rather than shallow “chit-chat”? How do you teach trainees to draw others out in a gracious way?"

Dr. Kellemen: "First, you have to model it. In my response to an earlier question, I noted how I modeled openness about my fears and openness to receive counsel from those I was training. That changes everything--it frees everyone up to open up. Second, you have to invite, not insist. That is, you can’t force an individual or group to “go deep.” You invite depth of relationship by building trust, by caring carefully and graciously, speaking the truth in love. What I’ve found in all three churches I’ve pastored and in my fifteen years of training in a seminary setting is that people are longing for such life-changing groups. People don’t want their training to end--not because they are afraid to step out and step up to minister, but because they have made such amazing connections with one another. Time after time I hear, “Our biblical counseling equipping group has become the most intense and intimate small group I have ever participated in.”

Elizabeth: "How does Equipping Counselors for Your Church compare with the other books that you have written? How do your other books complement this new release?"

Dr. Kellemen: "That’s a great question! I think of Equipping Counselors for Your Church as my “opus.” It is the result of three decades of equipping. Soul Physicians provides the theological foundation for understanding people, problems, and God’s soul-u-tuons. Spiritual Friends is the relational training manual used in labs to equip people to develop 22 biblical counseling “competencies.” God’s Healing for Life’s Losses applies this model to areas of suffering and loss. Beyond the Suffering and Sacred Friendships illustrates how to provide one-another biblical care through the lives of African American heroes of the faith and women heroes of the faith. Equipping Counselors brings it all together by showing leaders how to equip God’s people to care like Christ."
Elizabeth: "Appendix C10.2 (pg. 238) is a LEAD Sample Objectives and Lesson Outline. Do you have more of this type of Bible study material available for leaders who do not wish to write their own curriculum from scratch?"

Dr. Kellemen: "Yes and no. On the one hand, I don’t want to just give people a fish; I want to teach them to fish. The purpose of giving that one sample was to teach people to fish by showing them what a lesson plan might look like. On the other hand, I consider Soul Physicians and Spiritual Friends to be training manuals. Soul Physicians has two built in application guides at the end of each chapter. Spiritual Friends is a small group lab training manual. This is why many churches and schools use these two books as their primary manuals for equipping lay people for one-another ministry."
Elizabeth: "You wrote about applying Peacmaker’s 4G’s to conflict resolution as the leaders move toward change. What are some ways that people can encourage their leaders as they seek to equip others to do the work of ministry?"

Dr. Kellemen: "Interesting way to look at it. Often I focus on helping leaders to encourage and help their people as they go through the change process. You are asking, if I understand correctly, how people can encourage their leaders during the change process. Leader do need encouragement during times of change! No matter how hard you try as a leader, people will question your motives and your methods. So, stand by your leader. Be an “Aaron” holding up his/her arms. Realize the leader is human, too--with hurts and faults, struggles and sins. Speak words of encouragement into his life and about his ministry. Listen. Care."

Elizabeth: "How would you encourage the reader whose heart resonates with this type of formal approach but whose leaders have a different ministry mindset?"

Dr. Kellemen: "That happens more often than we might think. I address that in the book. You have to start with a humble sharing of your vision. You want to identify any areas where there might be overlap of vision (not assuming that if we are not 100% in agreement, that we are 100% in opposition). Be supportive. Ask for permission to develop a small test/beta/pilot group. My experience has been that these groups become such pockets of growth and excellence, that most leaders end up asking, “How did you do that? How could we incorporate more of that into the wider church ministry?”

Elizabeth: "Dr. Kellemen, Thanks so much for your willingness to answer my questions and for taking the time to write such a thorough and helpful book on the subject of training others to do the work of ministry and minister the Word!!"

To learn more about Equipping Counselors for Your Church or any of Dr. Kellemen's other books, you can visit his site. You'll find video trailers, sample chapters, and many other free resources that are sure to be a blessing. You'll also find discounted book bundles, if you are interested in purchasing multiple titles simultaneously. ;)

If you have any questions for Dr. Kellemen, please feel free to leave a comment.

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