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Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling: An Equipping Guide for Pastors and Counselors

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Pastors and counselors regularly minister to people whose marriages or families are in crisis. Tempers run high and feelings are brought low when a marriage is hurting or a family is in disarray. Pastors and counselors need practical, biblical help in order to connect their theological training to the reality of modern messy relationships. These how-to training manuals pro Pastors and counselors regularly minister to people whose marriages or families are in crisis. Tempers run high and feelings are brought low when a marriage is hurting or a family is in disarray. Pastors and counselors need practical, biblical help in order to connect their theological training to the reality of modern messy relationships. These how-to training manuals provide relevant, user-friendly equipping for pastors, counselors, lay leaders, educators, and students, enabling them to competently and compassionately relate God's Word to marriage and family life.


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Pastors and counselors regularly minister to people whose marriages or families are in crisis. Tempers run high and feelings are brought low when a marriage is hurting or a family is in disarray. Pastors and counselors need practical, biblical help in order to connect their theological training to the reality of modern messy relationships. These how-to training manuals pro Pastors and counselors regularly minister to people whose marriages or families are in crisis. Tempers run high and feelings are brought low when a marriage is hurting or a family is in disarray. Pastors and counselors need practical, biblical help in order to connect their theological training to the reality of modern messy relationships. These how-to training manuals provide relevant, user-friendly equipping for pastors, counselors, lay leaders, educators, and students, enabling them to competently and compassionately relate God's Word to marriage and family life.

43 review for Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling: An Equipping Guide for Pastors and Counselors

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zach Scheller

    This is a subject I’m really interested in, and this book got to the heart of it. Great framework and very practical, yet staying completely focused on discipleship and spiritual growth.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anita Ojeda

    Written for Christian counselors and pastors, Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling takes counselors through a new paradigm for counselors which the author has developed over years of marriage counseling in a church setting. After hearing horror stories of individuals and couples who went to a pastor for counseling and came away feeling more broken and discouraged than ever before, I wanted to see what a pastor had to say about pastoral counseling. Let me state upfront my belief that pastors shoul Written for Christian counselors and pastors, Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling takes counselors through a new paradigm for counselors which the author has developed over years of marriage counseling in a church setting. After hearing horror stories of individuals and couples who went to a pastor for counseling and came away feeling more broken and discouraged than ever before, I wanted to see what a pastor had to say about pastoral counseling. Let me state upfront my belief that pastors shouldn’t attempt counseling couples or anyone else unless they have proper training and have served an internship. A little information in the wrong hands can ruin lives (telling a parishioner to ‘pray more’ when the parishioner comes to the pastor for help with depression, for example.) State-licensed counselors go through a rigorous training, testing, and internship process that ensures they know how to help. Pastors may have one class in pastoral counseling in seminary. When you have cancer, you go to a doctor who specializes in your diagnosis, you don’t ask a pre-med student for a treatment plan. Now you understand my bias. I started the book with a hefty dose of skepticism. But as I read, I came to understand Kelleman’s new paradigm for counseling. According to Kelleman, “Jesus’s resurrection power can change everything in a marriage, freeing each spouse to live not for themselves but for the wider purposes of God. Resurrected people don’t act the same.” As a Christian, this concept appeals to me. What if married people stopped looking at their marriage problems as ‘his faults’ or ‘her faults’ and started by examining their own heart and faults first. Kelleman offers a method of triloguing (a conversation among the couple and the counselor) which helps the individuals understand the purpose of marriage—to glorify God. All too often Christians believe their marriage should serve God, and this easily descends into believing one spouse should serve the other (usually the wife) in order for one spouse to better serve God. When couples see their marriage as a means of glorifying God, they avoid the service trap because they have learned to focus on others. Kelleman points out, “Within the Trinity there is unity, diversity, and equality. Within every marriage there is to be unity, diversity, and equality—distinct but equal.” Kelleman has a new take on Genesis 3:16, where God tells Eve, “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” (NLT). Some people believe this verse gives men the right to rule over women. But Kelleman shows how God is warning both Adam and Eve of the sins they will struggle with after the fall. Women will struggle with a desire to control and manipulate men, and men will struggle with a desire to rule over women. Both actions are sinful. While I love the picture Kelleman paints, he struggles to fully address the issue of headship. If he believes man’s besetting sin is to try to rule over women, how can he say, “How well or poorly is this wife being vulnerably submissive as she openly receives her husband’s headship?”? Furthermore, Kelleman states, “To mutual submission, Paul adds the specific submission of the wife to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24). As God calls a husband to loving, sacrificial headship where he takes the initiative in feeding and caring for his wife, so God calls a wife to a gracious disposition of openly responding to and receiving her husband’s nourishing and cherishing ministry.” One assumes that the ‘feeding and caring’ is spiritual, not just physical. These representations of headship seem to contradict Kelleman’s belief that marriage should include unity, diversity, and equality. Because he never fully unpacks his understanding of headship, the reader is left with a vague outline that women should act ‘vulnerably submissive.’ The reader wishes Kelleman had followed through with his motif of where males and females are most tempted. Men by their desire to rule over and women with their desire to control. If these are the besetting sins of humans, one must take Dr. Emmerson Eggrichs’s interpretation of Ephesians 5:21-33. Men know how to respect—but a woman’s hierarchy of needs doesn’t start with respect. It starts with love. Women know how to love—but a man’s hierarchy of needs doesn’t start with love, it starts with respect. Depending on which translation of the Bible one reads, the words ‘submit’ and ‘headship’ have different nuances. The Message translates them this way: “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.” In other words, Paul urges women to give up their need to control a man’s love and to instead offer him respect. In the subsequent verses, Paul makes it clear how a man needs to give up his desire to rule over a woman and offer her the love that she craves. This mutual giving up of natural desires (as outlined by Kelleman in his interpretation of Genesis 3:16), would then produce a marriage that truly glorifies God. What I Liked About the Book Don’t get me wrong, I liked most of the book. Kelleman divides the book into two sections—A Theological Primer for Biblical Marriage Counseling and Practical Training for Biblical Marriage Counselors. The first part gives a (mostly) good outline of what a Christian marriage could look like. The second part outlines the specific competencies a Biblical marriage counselor will want to develop in order to help clients achieve the vision of a gospel-centered marriage. I appreciate the emphasis on the attitude and study a counselor needs to invest in in order to adequately help couples learn to counsel each other. Kelleman believes the point of gospel-centered counseling is to help couples glorify God with their relationship through ministering to each other and counseling each other. Couples should be each other’s accountability partners as they both deepen their relationship with God and each other. The practical advice provides readers with new ways of thinking about a counseling relationship and guides counselors through the process of enabling couples to counsel each other—a win-win situation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Conrade Yap

    For many people, marriage is about love between two persons. For Christians, marriage is indeed about love, but with an additional belief, that marriage is about being united before God. What is marriage from God's perspective? Why must we treat marriage counseling as based on the gospel of grace? Theologically and practically, what does it mean? Unlike books that dish out advice for married couples, this book is about equipping marriage counselors to help married couples. For author and pastor For many people, marriage is about love between two persons. For Christians, marriage is indeed about love, but with an additional belief, that marriage is about being united before God. What is marriage from God's perspective? Why must we treat marriage counseling as based on the gospel of grace? Theologically and practically, what does it mean? Unlike books that dish out advice for married couples, this book is about equipping marriage counselors to help married couples. For author and pastor Robert Kellemen, marriage counseling is about helping couples "see their marriage from a larger set of eyes." In fact, he insists that for Christians, it is a no-brainer that marriages are essentially meant to be gospel-centered. So, the author gives us 22 "counseling relational competencies." He suggests that the book be used in a "small group lab setting." For couples, focus not on "solutions" but on "soul-utions." The emphasis is about forming the inner soul. A marriage with transformed inner selves will be gospel-centered. Kellemen tells us the three common approaches to marriage counseling: Family systems; narrative therapy; and solution-focused therapy. All of them have in common the need to understand people; to diagnose the problem; and then to identify the solution needed. Kellemen aims to go a step further than all of these by pointing us to "gospel connection." This is done through facilitating "gospel conversations." In Part One, he lays forth the theological framework for the book with this plain statement: The ultimate purpose of marriage is to glorify God. For the essence of marriage is to reflect God's unity in the Trinity; the marriage of Christ and the Church; and to be more Christlike. He uses the popular metaphors of leaving, cleaving, weaving, and receiving, to describe the oneness in marriage. Recognizing the problem of sin that has marred all of life, he points out the dangers of self-centered philosophies that blame, shame, claim, and maim one another. The way forward needs to be learning to die to self and to yield to Christ. He spends time discussing the calling of both husbands and wives. Part Two of the book covers the practical aspects, through 22 marriage counseling relational competencies. He uses the acronyms "HOPE; CARE; FAITH; PEACE; LOVE" to summarize all the 22 competencies. My Thoughts ============== How different is this book compared to other marriage counseling resources? For one, the general theme resembles Gary Thomas's Sacred Marriage which teaches that the primary purpose of marriage is not happiness but holiness. While Thomas writes to married couples directly, Kellemen is more focused on the equipper. He also differs from solutions-based therapy book by emphasizing the spiritual formation aspect of marriage. Not only that, he recognizes the many different types of coaching needed for different couples. For some, cheerleading is essential. For others, direct confrontation is needed while some would require tender loving guidance. This means the counselor would also need to listen to the Holy Spirit on his or her role with regard to the unique situation of each couple. I like the way the author not only uses the five words as a memory mnemonic but arranges the competencies that are aligned in the general theme. For example, in HOPE, the competencies of "Having Hope," "Offering Hope," "Promoting God's Perspective," and "Enlightening Couples" are all different dimensions of hope. The same applies for CARE, FAITH, PEACE, and LOVE. Five alignments and Twenty-Two competencies. Somehow, these concepts might be too mentally bulky for the average counselor. Individuals would need to understand the rough trajectory needed before bringing in the competencies. That means discernment is needed. When reading this book, while Kellemen highlights the soulful aspect, we should not dismiss the validity of family systems, narrative therapies, and solutions-based therapies. In most situations, we would probably require a combination of these in any marital counseling sessions. The best reason for the Christian counselor is to let this book bring us back to the Bible as the foundation of how Christians live. As long as we are mindful of the gospel, any tools available to us could be a way for us to let the gospel shine through. This is probably the biggest reason to get this book. Robert W. Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D., is academic dean, dean of students, and professor of Biblical Counseling at Faith Bible Seminary in Lafayette, Ind. Bob is also the founder and CEO of RPM Ministries through which he speaks, writes, and consults on biblical counseling and Christian living. Dr. Kellemen served as the founding executive director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. Rating: 4.25 stars of 5. conrade This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Books and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

    Are you a pastor or counselor? Do you regularly counsel couples whose marriages are in need of serious help? Do you feel inadequate to help a couple walk through their marriage issues? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, this book is for you! A quick online search will net hundreds of books on marriage, so you may be reticent to purchase yet another one. The libraries of most pastors and counselors I know include numerous books on marriage. However, this is not your regular “run of t Are you a pastor or counselor? Do you regularly counsel couples whose marriages are in need of serious help? Do you feel inadequate to help a couple walk through their marriage issues? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, this book is for you! A quick online search will net hundreds of books on marriage, so you may be reticent to purchase yet another one. The libraries of most pastors and counselors I know include numerous books on marriage. However, this is not your regular “run of the mill” book on marriage. Keep reading to find out more. The first part of the book is “A Theological Primer for Biblical Marriage Counseling.” Using relatable descriptions of marriage counseling situations, Dr. Kellemen lays out the biblical/theological groundwork necessary to undergird the counseling that helps counselees begin to ask the correct questions to diagnose the problems they are having and then moving to apply the biblical truths to their lives individually and as a couple. After each portion of the information is taught and presented, you will find a section of questions entitled “Maturing as a Biblical Marriage Counselor: Solution” that lead you to interact with the biblical truths and the principles about which you just read and learned. The questions use real-life counseling situations as they lead you to apply these biblical truths and principles. The next part of the book is “How to Develop 22 Marriage Counseling Relational Competencies.” Each of these chapters follows the same basic format as is contained in the first part of the book. The focus here is developing key marriage counseling relational competencies. This also is done through teaching and presenting practical ways to apply the theology you learn in part 1 to marriage counseling situations. Dr. Kellemen’s writing style combined with the layout of the book provides a great format for learning and processing the biblical truths and principles and their application. Now that I've done a straight-through read, I need to go back and really soak up and work through this book. I highly recommend "Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling" to pastors, church staff, biblical counselors, and, well all Christ-followers. Even if you aren’t a pastor or counselor, your marriage will be strengthened as you learn, apply, and practice what you learn in this book. If you are not married, this book will provide wonderful information that will enable you to help your friends who are struggling with their marriages. Note: I received a copy of Gospel-Centered Marriage Counseling from Dr. Robert W. Kellemen for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Obadiah Dalrymple

    This book has a niche audience in mind - counselors who are protestant/evangelical in beliefs. It is written to the counselors, not the individuals being counseled. With that narrow scope in mind, I found this book Biblically based and helpful.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    I did not feel that it have enough teaching tools on marriage counseling

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jordyne

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  10. 5 out of 5

    Drew Morgan

  11. 4 out of 5

    J M Murdoch

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa130

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danx Daniel Bravo

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  15. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hil

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Adams

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marissa Kay Smith

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Guajardo

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christine Hensley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michele Shurbet

  22. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

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    Scott L. Frost

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian Hart

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marnie Ward

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Maki

  27. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert Young

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Masci

  31. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jerrilynn Atherton

  33. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  34. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  35. 5 out of 5

    Christina Stockard

  36. 4 out of 5

    Shirley

  37. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  38. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Roberson

  39. 4 out of 5

    Raymond Stone

  40. 5 out of 5

    Will

  41. 5 out of 5

    Bettye Short

  42. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Hohler

  43. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

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