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Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review: "Equipping Counselors for Your Church"

TITLE: Equipping Counselors for Your Church: The 4e Ministry Training Strategy
AUTHOR: Robert W. Kellemen
PUBLISHER: Philipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2011, (445 pages).

This is a handbook on doing church as a team. Like what gurus used to teach at leadership seminars, that if we want to go fast, go alone. If we want to go far, travel as a team. This book begins with that premise. It is filled with ideas and plans for the equipper to equip others for a very important ministry. The author makes his powerful introduction with the story of a one-man operated TV show (Milton Berle) and a team based approach (Ed Sullivan). While the former is concentrated solely on what Milton can produce, the latter allows for different contributions from various individuals. The result is stark. Milton Berle's show ends prematurely. The Ed Sullivan show survives so long that even when the host retires, the concept remains. The 4E training ministry is essentially this:  "Passing the Baton of Ministry."

Briefly, the 4Es comprises four laps:

  1. Envisioning God's ministry - Core values
  2. Enlisting God's people for Ministry - Connected People
  3. Equipping Godly Ministers for Ministry - Coached People
  4. Employing/Empowering Godly Ministers for Ministry - Comprehensive Strategy
In Part One, the key idea is that the work of the Church is much more than mere counseling. It is in catching God's vision for the whole church, to examine the spiritual health and fitness, and then to develop the MVP-C (Mission, Vision, Passion, and Commission) statement. It leads to a practical exercise to craft together a specific identity statement for the Church in the light of God's will.

In Part Two, the key idea is to be united toward a team purpose. This is best done by cultivating a climate that encourages transformed lives, enable change processes through wise change management, and restoring relationships through conflict resolution that is biblical. With the setting of the cultural climate, members are urged to see one another as ministers for God, to call each other for service, and to help one another match gifts to tasks.

Part Three is about the Equipping using the 4Cs (177).
  • "Content/Conviction: head/knowing - how to change lives with Christ's changeless truth
  • Christlike Character: heart/being- how to reflect Christ
  • Counseling Competence: hands/doing - how to care like Christ
  • Christian Community: home/loving" - how to grow together in Christ

Part Four talks about implementation of all that has been taught. This stage is where many fail to complete. It is at this stage where the ethical and legal considerations have to be wisely understood and practiced. This requires good administration and organization on the one hand, and execution of principles and practices of ministry on the other.

The book ends with a list of useful appendices ranging from best practices churches, to models and frameworks familiar to many strategy exercises. There is even an appendix on Church discipline.

Closing Thoughts

This book is a huge collection of useful ideas, plans, frameworks, and is suitable for Church envisioning, equipping, and empowering. The best way to use this book is not to read it like a novel. Use the framework to cast out an overview for all the members of the church. Then be selective about what is most appropriate for your church setting. The ideas are many, but not all are suitable for any church at the same time. Discernment is key. This calls for an important step: Understanding ourselves and God's purpose for the Church first!

Kellemen's teaching passion and wisdom is evident. His experience is wide, and his knowledge deep. Obviously, the material is compiled from his many years of teaching and ministry. If I have a critique, it is the size of the book. For all its great advice, some readers may be put off due to the lack of time to read, let alone to even read it. Thankfully, the authors summarizes the book chapters well at the beginning, and helps the reader along with very creative use of mnemonics. The best way to use this book is with a coach or a trainer, lest readers and practitioners miss the forest for the trees.

I recommend this book for Church leaders, boards, and anyone in the congregation who is passionate about equipping the called.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by P&R Publishing and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. The comments above are my free contribution to the book review and reading community.

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