The Pastor and Counselling: the basics of shepherding members in need
Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju
‘If you’ve arranged your pastoral ministry to avoid regular missions into the jagged and rocky places in people’s lives, then you are not shepherding like Jesus’. In light of that conviction, Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju have produced this short 130 page primer to give pastors some idea where to start when it comes to counselling – which they categorise as just one of the ministries of the word among many. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive handbook. They state that their goal is not to equip the reader to handle anything that comes their way – rather the goal is ‘to give you confidence that in the gospel you have the categories you need to navigate the troubles of your people’. They then proceed to walk you through preparation, the initial meeting, subsequent meetings, and how to bring the series of meetings to an end.
The book is marked by realism, with the authors noting that at the initial meeting with someone, the pastor is probably more nervous about hearing about someone’s struggles than they are about sharing them. It’s also marked by a strong commitment to the means of grace – the goal is to return the counselee to these ‘regular means of care in the church body’. The public ministries of the word are to be made an explicit part of a person’s ongoing care.
Readers may feel somewhat shortchanged as only the first 100 or so pages actually deal with ‘The Pastor and Counselling’ (the authors even admit that the last couple of chapters might have readers checking the front cover!). The penultimate chapter is on building a culture of discipleship in the local church, which if done well will reduce the need for counselling from the pastor in the first place. They note that ‘A person joining your church should not expect to be comfortable as a Sunday-only member. He is signing away his individualism’. The last chapter is on using outside resources when a problem is beyond you, though it has an American audience firmly in mind.
Overall it’s a useful book, which would be good to have within arm’s reach when counselling situations come up, but readers may be left wanting a bit more.
Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.