News Articles

FROM THE SEMINARIES: MBTS Center for Biblical Counseling; SBTS conference on engaging Muslims; Mandrell at SWBTS

Midwestern Seminary announces Center for Biblical Counseling; Students trained in engaging Muslims with the Gospel at Jenkins Center conference; ‘Spend more time with non-religious people,’ Mandrell preaches.

Midwestern Seminary announces Center for Biblical Counseling
By T. Patrick Hudson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — The Center for Biblical Counseling at Midwestern Seminary was announced on March 3, with the intent of offering the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and beyond a significant resource dedicated to biblical counseling that is rooted in the Word of God and the local church.

The primary focus of the Center and of Midwestern Seminary’s biblical counseling degree programs is equipping students to become biblical counselors who serve within their local churches and communities with a goal of making the church the first place people go for help, rather than the last resort.

“The aim of the Center for Biblical Counseling is to provide our students with opportunities to obtain and practically employ the skills necessary for soul care within the local church,” MBTS President Jason Allen said. “One of the primary weaknesses of many counseling programs in academic institutions is having an appropriate mix of theoretical training and practical ministry application. The CBC will attempt to remediate this tension by providing biblical counseling students a venue to grow in counseling methodology while developing skills that maximize their readiness to serve local churches upon graduation.

“This worthy effort is being led by Dr. Dale Johnson, who will serve as the Center’s director, and is among the most accomplished biblical counseling scholars in the greater evangelical world today. I am confident that he will impactfully lead and mentor our students to make significant practical and scholarly contributions to the field of biblical counseling for years to come.”

Johnson, who is associate professor of biblical counseling at Midwestern Seminary, has been at the school since 2019. He also serves as executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), a national organization that certifies biblical counselors to ensure doctrinal integrity and to promote excellence in biblical counseling. He regularly hosts the ACBC’s “Truth in Love” podcast as well.

According to Johnson, the CBC will launch in Fall 2020—offering students opportunities that heretofore have been difficult for them to obtain, including much-needed counseling observation and supervision opportunities so that they are more prepared to enter into the demands of ministry.

Johnson explained, “The CBC will provide students the opportunity, through their counseling courses, to be supervised by a faculty member as the student engages in real counseling situations. This, in turn, will assist them to better understand the ministry of counseling and, prayerfully, make them better counselors.”

Additionally, Johnson noted that the observation and supervision benefits will assist students in obtaining their 50-hour certification requirement more quickly and efficiently—strengthening students in practically applying what they’ve been learning theoretically in their coursework and equipping them to be significantly more prepared to serve in ministry upon graduation.

Johnson further explained that Midwestern Seminary is currently in the process of becoming a Certified Training Center for ACBC. This means that each student’s coursework will count toward certification, and that the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree will fulfill all the requirements for graduates to become ACBC-certified counselors.

Another major goal of the CBC is a focus on church relationships, primarily in assisting students to connect with local churches, biblical counseling centers, or wider ministry settings. Johnson said, “The Center will work diligently to facilitate relationships with local churches so students can engage in internships and counseling ministries throughout their course of study. We also desire to provide potential student placement in ministry positions upon graduation. We feel this will be a real win-win for our students and the local churches, counseling centers, or ministries.”

Other highlights of the Center’s responsibilities include hosting a lecture series on campus each year and providing students with publishing opportunities.

Johnson said the CBC will seek to host annual lectureships on topics broadly related to pastoral theology, secular views of mental health, and counseling ministry in the local church. Additionally, the Center will also attempt to leverage the academic work of master’s and doctoral students in order to contribute resources to the biblical counseling movement.

“One of our goals through the CBC is to provide a platform by which our students can have a voice in the Biblical Counseling Movement,” Johnson said. “As they produce excellent research and scholarship in their doctoral and master’s studies, we desire to get them published—offering them opportunities to make a difference in this field of study for years to come.”

Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College transitioned from an integrated counseling model to the biblical counseling model in May 2019, and now offer degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Classes are available on campus in Kansas City, Mo., or via Midwestern’s Online Studies Department.

To learn more about or become involved with the Center for Biblical Counseling or studying in one of the counseling degree programs at Midwestern Seminary or Spurgeon College, visit https://www.mbts.edu/counseling.


Students trained in engaging Muslims with the Gospel at Jenkins Center conference
By Forrest Strickland

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Walking in grace and forgiveness in Christ is central to faithful evangelism, argued missionary Mike Shipman at a conference at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The conference, entitled “Impacting the World: Islam and Engaging Muslims,” took place February 27–29 in Heritage Hall. It was hosted by the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam. Speakers included Shipman, J. Keith McKinley (associate professor of Christian Missions at Southern Seminary), and Gail McKinley.

For 20 years, Shipman has served with the International Mission Board as a missionary in Southeast Asia, and he is the author of Plan A: Abide in Christ, Disciple the World! and Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime, a guide to engaging Muslims with the Gospel. Shipman focused on how Christian dependence on Christ fuels evangelism even when evangelism might be wearying.

“There are three keys to abiding in Christ: walking with him in prayer, listening to His words, while we do his works,” Shipman said. “The good news is: Jesus didn’t say ‘you have the authority to fulfill the Great Commission, you go do it.’ He said ‘remember this: I’ll be with you always, to the end of the world.”

Paul M. Akin, Dean of the Billy Graham School at Southern Seminary, said the conference highlighted the seminary’s commitment to international evangelism and evangelism amongst Muslims in particular.

“At the Billy Graham School we are passionate about the Great Commission,” Akin said. “We want to see our students and graduates take the gospel across the street and around the world. As they do, they will inevitably come into contact with Muslims. There are more than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. These are people that are created in the image of God and who need to hear the gospel. The purpose of this conference and evangelism training is to better equip our students in sharing the Gospel with Muslims both here and around the world.”

The conference consisted of four parts: training on evangelism, discussion and fellowship, witnessing opportunities, and a special training for women on sharing the gospel in a Muslim context, led by Gail McKinley. During the witnessing opportunities, conference participants engaged in evangelism throughout Louisville.

Shipman reflected on the priority of sharing the Gospel from the beginning of a relationship. Scripture has no category for delaying sharing the Gospel with someone, Shipman said.

“We proclaim the Gospel,” Shipman said, and “let the Holy Spirit do the work based on the power of the Gospel. …In the first conversation, you meet people, you share the Gospel, you gauge for openness, then do follow up until they say they believe in something else.”

Ayman S. Ibrahim, Bill and Connie Jenkins Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of the Jenkins Center, noted how this conference helped to fulfill the mission and vision of the Jenkins Center. Ibrahim reinforced the urgency of training those in attendance to “present the good news to Muslims when you meet them, both locally and globally.”

“This is part of what we do at the Jenkins Center,” Ibrahim said. “We [at the Jenkins Center] are trying to train Christians to understand more about Islam as a religion and as an ideology, and also about Muslims in all their diversity.”

The Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam was founded in 2014 to equip students, pastors, and missionaries with the tools needed for sharing the gospel with Muslims around the world.

More information and resources for engaging Islam are available at the Jenkins Center website.


‘Spend more time with non-religious people,’ Mandrell preaches
By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — “There’s only two things that ultimately matter,” said Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, to The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s chapel audience, March 5. Those two things, he said, are the Word of God and the souls of people. In light of that reality, Mandrell encouraged the Southwestern Seminary and Scarborough College community to “spend more time with non-religious people,” explaining that “they need the Lord.”

Mandrell preached on the calling of Levi in Mark 2:13-17, titling his message “Jesus Eats with Non-Religious People.” Mandrell drew five observations from the text and encouraged his listeners to follow Jesus’ example.

Mandrell’s first observation is that Jesus saw Levi. This was particularly significant because, as a tax collector, Levi was a “well-hated” man, said Mandrell.

“Most of the Jews had written him off, but there was one Jew who had not written him off, and His name was Jesus. Jesus saw him,” Mandrell said. “And I think so much of evangelism is just choosing to see the people whom God puts in your path. … When you and I make a choice to just stop long enough from our busy schedules to see a non-religious person, we are already down the road of evangelism.”

Second, Mandrell observed that Levi followed Jesus, and third, Levi invited his non-religious friends over to dinner in order to meet Jesus—the One who had transformed his life.

“In 17 years of pastoral ministry, here is the one thing I still can’t figure out: why is it that in every church it’s the newly converted who are the best evangelists?” Mandrell asked. “They’re the ones who are bringing their non-religious friends. They’re the ones who can’t wait to introduce them.”

He continued, “What is it about us that, as we get further along in ministry, we become less inspired to share Jesus? … The natural trend is to begin as fishers of men, but to morph into keepers of the aquarium. Many will graduate who choose to ‘go pro’ at church and to spend their waking hours within its walls. Without knowing it, many Christians become Pharisees.”

Mandrell next observed that Jesus was judged for eating with tax collectors and sinners. But in response, Mandrell noted in his final observation, Jesus revealed His mission.

“Without question, the focus of Jesus’ personal life was on the far-off,” Mandrell explained. “If you just follow Him through the Gospels, He was always with the unbelieving, uncouth, unchurched, unsaved—whatever ‘un’ you prefer. He had His eye on people who had no felt need for religion.”

In light of these observations, Mandrell encouraged the chapel audience to consider whom God is placing before them—that is, what non-religious people they continually “bump into” throughout their daily lives. He encouraged the audience to pursue those individuals, love them, form relationships with them, and ultimately share their faith with them.

The chapel service ended with a prayer of commissioning for the students participating in Revive This Nation the following week who will be traveling across the country to preach the Gospel in local churches and communities. Evangelism professor Matt Queen prayed for their protection—both spiritual and physical—and that the Lord would save many souls through the students’ efforts.

Queen concluded, “Lord, may we leave this place looking for sinners so we can tell them the life-changing Gospel and see them accept it.”

During chapel, Mandrell also took the opportunity to present the 2020 LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award to Master of Divinity student Taylor Wood. Wood grew up in Eastern and Central Europe as a missionary kid and currently serves as pastor of the First Baptist Church of O’Donnell, Texas. The LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award is given annually to students from each of the Southern Baptist Convention seminaries, with each recipient chosen by his respective school’s faculty for demonstrating outstanding pastoral leadership in the local church.

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