Full swing – that term comes readily to mind to describe this new phase of life for IBCD’s Executive Director Jim Newheiser and his wife Caroline. For anyone who knows this couple it will come as little surprise that both of them are already knee-deep in activity and ministry.
Jim has eased right in to his new role as Director of the Christian Counseling Program and Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary Charlotte. This semester boasts a busy schedule for Jim (Dr. Newheiser on campus) who is teaching 65 students in three counseling and preaching classes. “I am excited to be a part of equipping the next generation of church leaders to trust and use the Scriptures in soul care,” says Jim.
Indeed the scope of potential for impact on the future of the church is beyond exciting. In Jim’s introductory counseling class alone there are students from Singapore, Beijing, and several Latin American countries, not to mention the many others preparing for international missions and vocational ministry here in the United States. Jim’s 30 years of pastoral ministry coupled with 10 years of counseling and training all around the globe as Executive Director of IBCD have provided him with a depth of wisdom and a confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture that will bless and challenge the future pastors, missionaries and lay-leaders who make up the student body at RTS Charlotte.
“What I have learned over the past ten years as Executive Director of IBCD has prepared me for many of the challenges I face here,” says Jim. “The two organizations are complementary. RTS Charlotte is training future church leaders in a formal and rigorous academic environment. The focus of IBCD is equipping various levels of leaders who are already serving Christ in the local church.” In both cases the focus is on building up shepherds and leaders who are competent to counsel.
It’s exciting to think that pastors could leave seminary with a passion for pastoral care and tools in hand to start cultivating the shepherding gifts that God has already placed within the local church.
“We have seen how important it is for pastors to be confident of the benefits of biblical counseling, and how much that can change the shape of the local church,” says IBCD’s Director of Operations, Craig Marshall. “Jim’s ability to directly interact with and equip future pastors fits beautifully with our mission of helping churches grow in one-another care.” Craig looks forward to collaborating with Jim as IBCD continues to craft and refine resources that are tailored for pastors to use with confidence in their local churches. “It’s exciting to think that pastors could leave seminary with a passion for pastoral care and tools in hand to start cultivating the shepherding gifts that God has already placed within the local church,” says Craig.
Unfortunately, Jim tells us, many pastors remain reluctant to counsel. Some pastors are concerned that counseling individuals will interfere with the primacy of preaching. Others say they do not have the time required to invest in individual problems. Still others feel inadequate to ad-dress the difficulties that arise in their own congregations and prefer to refer their congregants to “professionals.” Jim contends that pastors must counsel. “Counsel is a biblical word and we don’t want to surrender that word,” he says. He delights in the public ministry of the word and affirms the primacy of preaching but maintains that “the private ministry of the word is also necessary ‘from house to house’ to present every man complete in Christ.”
As Director of the Christian Counseling program he hopes to help shape a new generation of leaders who are not reluctant, but ready to counsel. “We want to reclaim counseling as territory occupied by the sufficiency of the Scriptures,” says Program Coordinator Nate Brooks. Together they are crafting a program aimed at doing just that. The Master of Arts in Christian Counseling (MACC) places a heavy emphasis on both theology and practicum while incorporating many of the practical resources offered by IBCD. “It is thrilling to think of how many men and women who already have a passion to care for the people of God will be equipped to use his word to help people with real-life struggles,” says Craig.
We want to reclaim counseling as territory occupied by the sufficiency of the Scriptures.
Caroline has found her way into the classroom as well, but for her it’s back to school as a student! She is pursuing the MACC and is very excited that her ACBC certification gives her 10 hours of advanced standing. She loves that the program covers every book of the Bible over the course of two years and is particularly enjoying her Genesis to Joshua class taught by Dr. Currid. “The MACC degree creates a mechanism for studying the Bible in-depth in a way I never have before,” she says. “I’m already learning so much about specific books of the Bible as well as systematic theology.” Although she is already an experienced counselor, and even trains others in counseling, she believes that further study will enrich her ability to apply God’s Word as well as open doors for further ministry opportunities.
Outside the classroom these two haven’t slowed down either. Their days at home are filled with an almost constant stream of house guests, and weekends away are booked with an ambitious conference schedule that will take them from coast to coast as well as to Costa Rica and Argentina.
But don’t worry! Every IBCD event is marked out squarely on their calendar and they are eagerly anticipating each opportunity to return for them. “We miss our church and our friends whom we left behind in San Diego,” says Jim. He and Caroline are looking forward to returning in February to hear Zack Eswine teach from two of his books at IBCD’s Ministry Weekend. And of course they will both be back again in June for Summer Institute 2017. “I am really looking forward to coming to SoCal for the Summer Institute,” says Caroline. “The speakers will be wonderful and I can’t wait to see all our special Summer Institute friends.”
With so much already underway for the Newheisers it’s hard to believe that less than three short months ago they pulled up stakes and struck out for a cross-country relocation from San Diego, CA to Charlotte, NC, but honestly, from these two we wouldn’t have expected anything less.
Photos by Amanda Mcquade: RTS Charlotte Students in Class and during practicum with Dr. Newheiser. The biblical counseling offices occupy an entire wing of the seminary.