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Intro to: "Get Real:  A Call for Authenticity in the Church"

 Hello, I'm Paul J. Staup, Ed.S., the executive director and founder of Grace Counseling Ministries.  I am also the author of the book "Get Real: A Call for Authenticity in the Church."  The book is my reaction to living in the fundamental and evangelical church since giving my life to Jesus Christ 40 years ago.  It is also a reaction to ministering in Christian organizations for over 30 years.  In the decade of my 20's I received my M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which is the seminary for the Evangelical Free Church located in Deerfield, Illinois.  During this time I was doing youth work, both in the church and in parachurch organizations such as Young Life.  In my 30's I was the department head of the psychology program at Northeastern Bible College and an Associate Professor of Psychology and Sociology at Nyack College while also being a Christian Counselor with Youth For Christ.  I also earned an Ed.S. degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey and received my license to practice after passing the  licensing exam with the 2nd highest score in the state.  In the decade of my 40's I have centered my work and ministry on being a Christian Counselor while directing Grace Counseling Ministries.  It is from this vast array of ministry and educational experience that I made this call for the church to become more real.  I am excited about you reading this book and would like to hear from you concerning your reaction to it.  You can send your feedback to me by  regular mail at Paul J.  Staup, Grace Counseling Ministries, Inc., 7 Doig Rd., Wayne, New Jersey 07470 or by e-mail at gracecounseling@verizon.net

          I decided to offer this book to you on the web because God has given me this message and, therefore, I do not consider the material to be mine.  I also tried to have this published through traditional means and was yelled at by a publisher who said to me, "Who do you think you are and what are you trying to do?"  After trying but failing to defend myself, I got the message by reading between the lines that he felt the need to defend the church in response to the book.  This happened about 10 years ago and took the wind out of my sails, leaving me feeling discouraged, defeated, confused as to what to do next and just plain angry at this guy.  I know I shouldn't have taken it personally, but I was younger and completely naive about the publishing process.

         Now I would prefer to just give you the material instead of going through a tedious and arduous process of publishing the book.  I didn't write the book because I wanted to sell it, I wrote it as a creative outlet to my frustration with my experience of ministering in the fundamental and evangelical church.  I wrote it out of feeling overwhelmed by the duplicity and the politics that I have experienced as a pastor, Christian college professor, and Christian counselor.  It is more than tough and difficult to listen in the counseling process of how people really feel, think and act as apposed to the way they  feel pressured to act, think and feel when they are with other Christians and at church.  After having done Christian counseling for more than 20 years I have come to the conclusion that the gulf between what appears to be happening and what is actually happening is frighteningly wider than what most people think.  I often say to myself and my colleagues about this gulf that the "truth is always stranger than fiction."

          I also have many more things to write about and have written one other complete book that is much longer than this one.  That book is about abuse that I have suffered in my life, how it caused me to be depressed and how I got out of that depression.  It is two books in one with one being weaved through and written simultaneously through the other one.  The one book is theory about how abuse causes depression and what you can do about it; the other book weaves around the other one as my story of abuse, loss, and depression and how I resolved to find the meaning of suffering in my life.  I hope one day soon to have this before you to read also.  In addition to this book, I hope to write to you about the secrets of anxiety, about how anxiety is to be appreciated as God's way of telling you that there is a major issue in your life to be faced and other issues including the problem with fundamentalist Christianity.  I also want to tell you the secrets I have learned while doing my job as a Christian therapist and how this relates to having an authentic, emotionally intimate relationship with your spouse.

           Perhaps, now you can better understand why I would prefer not to play the game of convincing a publisher that I have something worthwhile to say.  I spend too much energy doing therapy and writing and trying as best as I can to have healthy relationships with the important people in my life like my wife and children and friends.  One published author likened publishing a book to running a marathon and asked me if I was ready to run one.  The answer is no!!!  I would rather be writing, responding to God's creative urges within me and then sharing this as simply as possible.

           So there you have it.  I pray that I am doing the right thing and that you will gain a sense of healing and validation from what you are about to read. 

            What I would ask of you is to share this with other people who would be helped by "Get Real."  You have my permission to download the material and print the book and give it to anyone for any reason.  If you cannot download the book from the website you may have to copy and paste the book to a word document and then download and print it that way.

             I would also like to ask of you one more thing and that is to consider donating to the ministry of Grace Counseling if you find that the book helps you, validates you and gives you a fresh perspective.  Do not feel as if you have to do this, so do not do it out of guilt and obligation but out of a feeling of appreciation that someone is willing to speak the truth and that this truth has changed your life in some positive way.  The best way you can say thank you to me is by giving a charitable donation to Grace.  Your donation is tax deductible because GCM is a not for profit organization.  Your donation will make it easier for those who cannot afford counseling to get it anyway.  Together we can make money a non issue when a person decides they want to go on the wild ride we call "Christian Counseling!"

                                                                                Thank you ahead of time,

                                                                                  Paul J. Staup, Ed.S.

About "Get Real"

"Get Real" is a book about my frustration, anger and loss over feeling out of place at church.  It is about feeling as if I don't fit in and about the anxiety I feel even as I drive closer to the church parking lot as I prepare to worship on Sunday.  The book is also about the masks that this pressure encourages us to wear in order to conform to the church's image (which I happen to believe is so different from Christ's image that I wonder if He would feel comfortable in the very church He founded) and how this makes people behave in a fake way toward each other.   I find church to be one of the most unreal places I ever go to.

          This is the reason for the title of the book.  The words have a double meaning in that from a positive perspective I am encouraging the church universal to become more real (or authentic) in order to allow for the healing we all so desperately need and are looking for from our churches.  From a negative perspective "Get Real" is a sarcastic statement which means that if this is the best we can do then, like teenagers like to say to each other, I say we should all "Get Real."  This means that if this is the best we can do then, not only is "it" sad, but "we" are sad examples of what Jesus' life reflected and the words that He taught. 

          Jesus was and continues to be today the most authentic person who ever stepped foot on this earth.  If we can become more like Him and, therefore, more real, then we will become healthy by dropping our masks by being more honest with each other.  We would also become a better witness by being more genuinely attractive to the unchurched world.  I think to most nonChristian, secular people we just look "goofy" and "silly."  We need to do better and I think the best way to accomplish this is by "Getting Real."

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Paul Staup's Books

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