KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MBTS): 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 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,” said President Jason Allen. “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.