I was excited to get the opportunity to read and review Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ by Robert Kellemen. I would like to clarify that this book isn’t just for pastors at its heart biblical counseling is discipleship which is the responsibility of every maturing believer. With that being said I am grateful for the large number of resources available in the area of biblical counseling.
The book contains twelve chapters which are divided up over five sections. One of the most useful aspects of this book is that it can be used individually for self-directed training or in a more structured group setting. This is significant as those in smaller churches and communities need to have the option of being self-directed in their training and this book allows for that flexibility. Like biblical counseling itself what you get out of the book will depend upon what you put into it. Each chapter has a scriptural background which is to be read, meditated upon, and studied. The first section lays the foundations for biblical counseling. The following sections elaborate on what Kelleman considers to be the compass points of biblical counseling, sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding.
At the beginning of chapter one a common attitude found especially among pastors is challenged. Those in ministry can often develop an attitude said or unsaid that we just deliver the package/mail/message of God’s word and as long is we deliver it how we deliver it doesn’t matter. The character in which we communicate the truth does matter. Kelleman puts it well when he says, “If my character does not increasingly reflect the Christlike relational love of a brother, mother, father, child, and mentor, then I need to “switch chairs.” I need to become the counselee, the disciple (45). This guides the focus of every chapter growing in or putting on the Christlike character of a counselor while also internalizing it as well.
This is a good resource for one starting out in biblical counseling, as noted there is flexibility in how it is used. The additional resources in the appendices help make this book useful for the implementation of biblical counseling ministry throughout the church. I heartily agree with Kelleman’s hope that readers would, “Catch and cast the vision of every member being a one-another minister who speaks the gospel truth in love (354).”
A special thanks go to Zondervan for providing a free review copy.