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The BCC Weekend Interview Series: The Master’s College and Seminary

March 3, 2012

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Weekend Interview

As part of our BCC vision, we want to point you to the best of the best in robust, relational, biblical counseling. Periodically we’re posting (and then making available as an ongoing resource) interviews with churches, para-church groups, educational institutions, and individuals committed to biblical counseling.

The Master’s College and Seminary

We’re pleased to introduce you to the biblical counseling programs at The Master’s College and Seminary in Santa Clarita, California. We interviewed Chris Kropf, the MABC Director to learn more.

BCC: “Chris, please tell our readers about the degrees you offer in biblical counseling.”

TMCS: “We offer the Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling, the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling, and our students in the Master of Divinity program also take biblical counseling classes.”

BCC: “Who is your target audience or ideal student? Are your programs primarily for senior pastors, associate pastors, lay people, biblical counselors, all, others?”

TMCS: “Our ideal student is any Christian who wants to grow more into Christlikeness and is interested in counseling and discipling others, especially within the context of the local church. Our biblical counseling programs are designed to equip pastors, teachers, missionaries, elders, deacons, lay people and other Christian workers.”

BCC: “How do you envision your graduates using their degrees? In what types of ministries are your graduates already serving?”

TMCS: “Our graduates tend to go down the ministry path and work for ministries such as churches, Christian colleges, Christian high schools, crisis pregnancy centers, faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation, rescue missions, homeless shelters, Christian crisis intervention facilities, and in missions.”

BCC: “Please tell our readers about your program’s mission and vision.”

TMCS: “Our Motto is: Taking God at His Word.

Our Mission is: Equipping students to accurately interpret the Scriptures, grasp the practicality of theology, and know how to properly apply the truth of Scriptures in discipleship counseling to believers and in evangelizing unbelievers.

Our Passion is: To unleash the potential of one-another relationships in the local church.”

BCC: “What makes your degree program unique?”

TMCS: “As we conduct training, our passion is to train the whole person. This includes solid biblical content, assignments that aim to build the character of our students, and classes that grow relational competencies all within the context of community. We are passionate about the sufficiency of Scripture and training our students to be exegetical counselors who interpret God’s Word accurately and then accurately interpret people’s hearts.

Our counseling philosophy is God-Centered. All people are religious by their very nature. God created people to worship and serve Him. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:22-31). Tragically, we are all natural idolaters and our hearts turn from worshiping the living God to worshiping created things (Romans 1:18-32). The goal of our counseling is to restore worship of the living God in spirit and in truth (John 3:21-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Our instruction is Christ-Centered. People don’t just need a system of redemption. They need a Redeemer who pursues them by name (Isaiah 61:1-2a, Matthew 11:28-30). We train our students to introduce their counselees to the Great Physician of their souls, Jesus the Messiah.

Our equipping is Salvation-Centered. Biblical counselors must have theological convictions that influence, permeate, and control their personal lives. Our students learn to counsel their own hearts first and to model for others the implications of the gospel for daily living (2 Corinthians 5:15; Titus 3:4-7).

Our training is Bible-Centered. The Bible is sufficient for understanding and resolving every problem of the soul and is the authority for treating soul problems (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-9). Even in cases where a person suffers from a physical ailment, there is a spiritual component that medicine simply cannot address. Thus, when a person suffers from a medical issue, the mercy, love, and truth of Christ is still very relevant. With this in mind, we train our students to interpret people’s hearts, as well as Scripture, and then wisely apply specific biblical principles to the specific problems they face.

Our counseling model is People-Centered. Our heart’s desire is to train compassionate counselors who know how to practice the most repeated command in the New Testament: the command to love one another (John 13:34-35, 15:12, 15:17; Romans 12:10,15:8; . . .). We train them to be sensitive to sufferers, counseling them not to let their suffering become their identity but to see their suffering in the light of God’s purposes. We don’t take a one size fits all approach to every counseling situation and our students learn to confront sin, if necessary, in a way that fits the situation appropriately (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Finally, the goal of our instruction is Church-Centered. Scripture is clear that the local church is the primary means by which God accomplishes His work in the world. It is the most holistic environment for counseling. As the church practices the one anothers, we grow up together into Christ-likeness (Ephesians 4:7-16). In light of this reality, our curriculum focuses primarily on the counseling ministry of the local church and we have hired three full-time faculty members that collectively share over 75 years of pastoral counseling experience. They are case wise and labor to guide our students well no matter where they are in their journey as counselors.”

BCC: “Please share about your director/chair and about your faculty.”

TMCS: Dr. John Street, Chair Professor: NANC Fellow, B.A., Cedarville University, M.Div., Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, D.Min., Westminster Theological Seminary, Joined TMC 1999. Dr. Street is a second-generation pastor and has been in pastoral ministry for 27 years. He has served as an assistant professor at Cedarville and Cornerstone Universities. He also served for one year as the Director of Admissions at Cedarville University. He was the founding pastor of Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio where a strong counseling program included training scores of pastors. He is a regular contributor to The Biblical Counselor and The Journal of Biblical Counseling and is an editor of The Journal of Modern Ministry. Dr. Street is a fellow and board member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and he is also a member of the Evangelical Theological Society. Dr. Street is an elder at Grace Community Church. He is currently serving as the chairperson of the graduate program in Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College. He has a passion for training students to practice “exegetical counseling” that properly interprets and applies Scripture in its context to counseling situations. He teaches Problems and Procedures of Biblical Counseling, Counseling Hermeneutics, and Internship. Dr. Street has a wonderful wife, Janie, and four beautiful children, Krista, Melissa, Jay and James.

Dr. Somerville, Associate Professor: NANC Fellow, B.A., The King’s College, M.Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, D. Min., Westminster Theological Seminary, Joined TMC 2005. Dr. Somerville has served as a Pastor-Teacher in the Evangelical Free Church since 1970. While pastoring in the greater New York area, he handled the crisis telephone calls for the Family Radio station and out of that ministry wrote the book, Help for Hotliners: A Manual to Train Telephone Crisis Counselors. In 1980 he accepted the call to a church planting ministry in Visalia, CA and while serving there he established the Biblical Counseling and Educational Center, equipping laymen and pastors in the field of Biblical Counseling. He has spoken widely on the subject of Biblical Counseling, teaching seminars in the U.S. as well as speaking to missionaries in Europe, Central & South Africa, and Japan. Dr. Somerville is a fellow and serves as a member of the Board of The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. Dr. Somerville’s wife Mary is a tremendous asset to his pastoral and counseling ministry. Mary holds a Master’s degree in counseling from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has authored two chapters in the book “Women Helping Women,” and has published the book One With a Shepherd: The Tears and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage. Dr. Somerville is a master at training students to practically apply Scriptures to counseling situations. He teaches Essential Qualities of the Biblical Counselor, Methods of Biblical Change, Observation, and Practicum. Mary teaches Discipling Women. Dr. Somerville and Mary have two children and seven grandchildren.

Dr. Ernie Baker, Professor: NANC Certified, B.A., Washington Bible College, M.Div., Capital Bible Seminary, D.Min., Westminster Theological Seminary, Joined TMC 2005. Dr. Baker has been in ministry since 1980 with extensive experience in his last pastoral ministry of 14 years in Blacksburg, VA, training and equipping pastors and laymen in the skills of Biblical Counseling. He has completed multiple levels of training with Peacemaker Ministries.  He is almost finished with his “certified conciliator” training/mentoring with Peacemaker Ministries. He has Level II Certification with the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and is currently seeking Fellow status with NANC. He and his family attend Crown Valley Community Church in Acton, CA where he leads the men’s ministries and is developing a men’s discipleship/mentoring program. He and his wife Rose Marie have been married since 1981 and are thankful parents of six children, three boys and three girls. They are grateful to the Lord to be able to serve at TMC and are passionate about teaching students to live as worshipers of what truly lasts. Ernie teaches Introduction to Biblical Counseling (undergrad and Graduate); Marriage and Family Counseling (undergrad); Biblical Conflict Resolution (undergrad, MABC and Seminary); Theology of Christian Counseling (MABC).”

BCC: “We’d love to hear a testimony from a current student or graduate.”

TMCS: “I took a year away from my medical practice to pursue counseling training in the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling Program (MABC) at The Master’s College. I was not disappointed! My year in the program was everything I had hoped for and more. I learned about the human heart in such a way that I was able to examine myself using the Word of God as never before. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit I was able to see the Lord grow me in ways I had only glimpses of previously. The emphasis on application of God’s Word to my heart and my life were clearly the foundation on which all of the professors in the MABC program knew to be essential in the training of a biblical counselor. The specific application of each assignment to my own life taught me so much that I had a genuine crisis of faith the first semester as I evaluated what in the world I had been doing as a Christian before that time. Fortunately, the teaching and shepherding that went along with that crisis also helped me to see the incredible patience and grace of God in my life, and to rejoice more in who God is than to wallow in my own shallow growth.

I was taught to help other believers with their heart issues using the Word of God, while dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit and in the context of the relational ministry of the church body. I especially appreciated the teaching that while not all discipleship is counseling, counseling is discipleship. The connection to Matthew 28:20 was new to me. Seeing biblical counseling in light of the Great Commission was eye opening. An unexpected area of growth also involved Matthew 28:20 as I became much more confident in evangelism, both in the counseling environment and in non-counseling relationships.

I consider myself profoundly indebted to Dr. Baker, Dr. Somerville, and Dr. Street for the amazing changes that God has done in my life. I am thankful that the Lord has called men with great gifts in teaching as well as years of pastoral ministry and counseling experience to this program. I am also deeply indebted and grateful to Dr. John MacArthur for eliminating the Psychology Department and establishing a Biblical Counseling program many years ago. This strong stand for the sufficiency of Scripture in counseling has been a blessing to innumerable people, with whom I am grateful to be numbered. I am not the same person I was when I came to The Master’s College.”

BCC: “How can people contact you?”

TMCS: “People can connect with us at:

The Master’s College and Seminary
21726 Placerita Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
http://www.masters.edu/admissions/graduate/mabc.aspx
Contact: Chris Kropf, Director of MABC Admissions, [email protected]
661.362.2644”

BCC: “Chris, thanks for such a thorough and engaging introduction to the programs and people associated with the biblical counseling ministry at The Master’s College and Seminary.”


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