Pastor and Counseling

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Authors: Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju


The Basics of Shepherding Members in Need

A Step-By-Step Guide for Pastors

Pastors spend much of their time counseling people in crisis—a delicate task that requires one to carefully evaluate each situation, share relevant principles from God’s Word, and offer practical suggestions for moving forward. Too often, however, pastors feel unprepared to effectively shepherd their people through difficult circumstances such as depression, adultery, eating disorders, and suicidal thinking.

Written to help pastors and church leaders understand the basics of biblical counseling, this book provides an overview of the counseling process from the initial meeting to the final session. It also includes suggestions for cultivating a culture of discipleship within a church and four appendixes featuring a quick checklist, tips for taking notes, and more.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Pastor and Wednesday Morning

Part One: Concept

  1. Laboring for Your People
  2. Where Do We Begin?
  3. Your Method: How You Do Counseling

Part Two: Process

  1. Laboring for Change
  2. The Final Meeting

Part Three: Context

  1. Never Laboring Alone: Toward a Culture of Discipleship
  2. Laboring Wisely: Using Outside Resources Well

Afterword: A Labor of Love
Appendix A: A Quick Checklist for the Counseling Process
Appendix B: What Is Christian Counseling?
Appendix C: Personal Background Form
Appendix D: A Simple Method for Taking Notes and Organizing Data


About the authors:

Jeremy Pierre , PhD, is Professor of Biblical Counseling & Dept. Chair at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life, as well as co-author of both When Home Hurts: Responding Wisely to Domestic Abuse in Your Church and The Pastor and Counseling. He and his wife, Sarah, have five children, for whom they are exceedingly grateful.

Deepak Reju (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as an associate pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He is also the president of the board of directors for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.


“Biblical counseling, grounded in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture, is essential to the health of the church. Furthermore, pastors must be equipped for the task of counseling with the Word of God. The Pastor and Counseling is a remarkably helpful introduction to the pastoral counseling ministry and is brimming with sage, biblical wisdom for both new and seasoned pastors. Every pastor needs this book.”  ~R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This book is faithful to God, thoughtful, and realistic about people. It’s clearly written, simple, and practical in its suggestions. We all struggle. How can you and your whole church learn to care well? Go take this book to heart.”  ~David Powlison, late Executive Director of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

“This is a book on how pastors should listen to their church members and speak to them. This is a book on how we should love. It is eminently biblical, practical, and refreshing. Perhaps we should make it required reading for all new elders.”  ~Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC; President, 9Marks

“This book demonstrates to busy pastors that the work of counseling is not only required, but also possible. If you are a pastor who feels overwhelmed by this critical task of shepherding, Pierre and Reju are reliable guides to steer you through the confusion. Their deep convictions about Scripture have been tested in the crucible of pastoral ministry. I am excited for you to learn from them in the pages of this book.”  ~Heath Lambert, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville; author, The Biblical Counseling Movement after Adams

“This is the best primer for pastoral counseling I’ve read—and I’ve read many. Frankly, reading it is the equivalent of at least two excellent seminary courses on pastoral counseling. Read it, apply it, and be equipped for the personal ministry of the Word to God’s people in your church.”  ~Bob Kellemen, Vice President of Strategic Development and Academic Dean at Faith Bible Seminary in Lafayette, Indiana; author, Gospel-Centered Counseling

“Pierre and Reju offer a gem to pastors as they shine a light on the privilege and necessity of shepherding God’s people. Winsomely written, this primer is loaded with invaluable perspectives, guidelines, and insights on how to love others well during their time of need. Having spent countless hours with each of these pastors over the years, I wholeheartedly commend their work.” ~Robert Cheong, Pastor of Care, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky; author, God Redeeming His Bride

“Pierre and Reju have written a balanced approach to both theory and methodology in one volume. It will be a great asset for the busy pastor who wants to do biblical counseling but doesn’t know where to start. One’s counseling appetite for truth and practical help will be satisfied, and one’s confidence will be strengthened. With this book in hand, the fear of counselees and their problems will lessen in the pastor’s heart.” ~Rod Mays, Former National Coordinator, Reformed University Ministries; Adjunct Professor of Counseling, Reformed Theological Seminary; Executive Pastor, Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church, Greenville, South Carolina

“One of the most important and perhaps most overwhelming things ministers do is pastoral care and counseling. This book provides pastors with a basic framework to approach the troubles and suffering of the people they are privileged to shepherd.”  ~Justin S. Holcomb, Episcopal Priest; Professor of Christian Thought, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; co-author, Rid of My Disgrace and Is It My Fault?  

“Pastoring is hard work, a labor of love that requires practical theological know-how along with the heart of Jesus for people who are suffering or straying. This is the best primer available, pointing pastors to the wisdom found only in the Bible and outlining basic methods and procedures for the personal ministry of the gospel.”  ~Sam Williams, Professor of Counseling, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary 

“Pierre and Reju faithfully point pastors to the life-transforming power of the good news of Jesus Christ as both the means and the goal of change in counseling. I wish I had read such a book when I began ministry in the ’70s. It would have alleviated many fears about counseling and better equipped me to shepherd my congregation. This primer will be at the top of the list for our interns to read for pastoral counseling.”  ~Phil A. Newton, Senior Pastor, South Woods Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee; author, Elders in the Life of the ChurchVenture All for God, and Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals

“Anything we don’t understand is scarier than it needs to be. This is often true for pastors regarding counseling. This book does an excellent job overviewing the counseling process, identifying common pitfalls, and providing intuitive protocols. It will orient you to your role in the process so that your fears do not distract you from caring for God’s people.”  ~Brad Hambrick, Pastor of Counseling, The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina  

“Pierre and Reju have written a counseling book where the starting point is the Word of God and the objective is a deeper understanding of the gospel. The book is loaded with practical, scriptural insights that can be applied to your context immediately. You’ll find yourself referring to it constantly when counseling or discipling.”  ~Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor, Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee; author, Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples

“Pierre and Reju have given pastors everywhere a much-needed primer on biblical counseling in the context of the local church. This book will tear down the walls of anxiety that pastors feel when counseling members of their church and build up pastors as they counsel their congregants in a manner worthy of the gospel.”  ~Dave Furman, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Church of Dubai

“Here is a great help for busy pastors who seek to fulfill their shepherding role through counseling members of their flock. Pierre and Reju provide a foundation for getting involved in the lives of hurting people and give a step-by-step approach to the counseling process that discusses a variety of issues counselors face. Practical advice for each stage of counseling is offered in the context of developing a culture of discipleship within the church. An encouraging book to pastors who need solid direction in the nuts and bolts of counseling.”  ~Richard Belcher, Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina

“A complex subject like pastoral counseling is well served by having a helpful, biblical, and condensed guide like The Pastor and Counseling. I commend Pierre and Reju on their ability to summarize the most important aspects of soul care. These men are practitioners who minister to people within the church on a weekly basis. I highly recommend this book to any pastor as a starter or refresher for his shepherding ministry.”   ~Stuart W. Scott, Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, The Exemplary Husband; co-editor, Counseling the Hard Cases

“What more could the shepherd ask for than a manual providing reasonable, understandable helps on shepherding the flock, both the needy and the healthy. Giving hope and help to shepherds in their God-given calling, this book is a must read for every pastor.”  ~Thomas Zempel, late Pastor of Care Ministry, Colonial Baptist Church, Cary, North Carolina; Professor of Counseling, Shepherds Seminary 

“This is one of the first books every shepherd of a local flock should own. It is at once reverently Christ-centered and accessibly practical. Step-by-step the authors outline how pastors can walk alongside hurting people, giving hope and help. I highly recommend this book.”  ~Chris Brauns, Pastor, The Red Brick Church, Stillman Valley, Illinois; author, Unpacking ForgivenessBound Together, and When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search