Book Review: Building a Church Counseling Ministry by Sue Nicewander

Problem: How can solo pastors in small-to-medium size churches provide a counseling ministry without killing themselves in the process?

Solution: Collaborate with a number of other similar churches to employ a full-time biblical counselor to service each congregation’s needs.

The main strength of this book is its reality. It is not the result of a doctoral thesis, but rather of hundreds and probably thousands of hours of real-world ministry cooperation among five local churches. As the average church in the US has a congregation numbering between 75-150 members, making it financially impossible for such churches to each employ a Biblical Counselor, the model of 4-5 churches collaborating to hire and share such a counselor between them should be attractive to many local churches.

Another strength is it’s practicality. I wouldn’t read this book if I wanted to learn about the principles of Biblical Counseling; it touches on that only briefly and addresses alternative views even more briefly and rather simplistically.  However it does provide lots of step-by-step practical guides for getting from no counseling ministry in your church to a trained Biblical Counselor working cooperatively with a handful of other churches.

It demonstrates the process to be followed in each local church: how to gain the support of your congregation, how to identify co-laboring churches, how to hire a biblical counselor, how to administer and manage the ministry, accountability, etc. There are almost a hundred pages of appendices.

If you are thinking of starting this kind of ministry, I’d recommend this book, especially if you are in a small-to-medium size church. But first of all, I’d read Bob Kellemen’s Equipping Counselors for Your Churchwhich, though also practical, contains more theological groundwork.

Buy Building a Church Counseling Ministry by Sue Nicewander (with Pastor Jonathan Jenks and Stephen Steinmetz).