Shaping a new generation of pastors to be biblically wise

Earlier this month, Andrew Nicholls (Deputy Director of Biblical Counselling UK) began a new role as the Director of Pastoral Care at Oak Hill Theological College. Here on the Biblical Counselling UK blog, we thought we’d catch up with Andrew about this exciting development:

How did you first get involved in biblical counselling?

Very early on in my role as a church pastor, I realised that I had much to learn about how the gospel connects with people in the very difficult (and sometimes very sinful) moments of their lives. It’s one thing to know Scripture but it’s a whole other matter to be able to apply it appropriately to people’s hearts. So I started a journey – with the help of CCEF in America – to learn more about how people can grow through the tough moments of life. It was a process that changed both me – and the ministry I’m involved in – profoundly.

How have you been using biblical counselling in recent years?

As a pastor, I’ve spent a substantial amount of time walking alongside church members who are struggling. I hope I have been able to help those who are hurting to connect the riches of Scripture to the realities of their life (whether that has been 1-2-1; 1-2-2 or 2-2-1) and, in the process, come to see the Lordship of Christ, and the hope that he brings, more closely. But my work has not just been about helping those in trouble, there’s been a big teaching and training element to it as well. At my last church, we developed the Real Change course (a 6-session, small-group resource to help people understand and engage in the biblical process of change). And, possibly most strategically, my colleagues and I have spent a significant amount of time building a small group programme around the expectation that people grow up in Christ – not just reading the Bible and praying together but being real community, sharing lives and spurring one another on in significant ways.

In what ways have you seen biblical counselling bring real change in your life and in the lives of the people you have been walking alongside?

It’s been a great privilege to see people grow in the awareness that every moment of our lives is lived in worship of something or someone. Often, of course, we default to worshipping something we want but as the Bible is applied, it’s fantastic to see people pursuing the Lordship of Christ more and more – in their marriage, their singleness, their parenting, their perseverance through sickness and their battling with sin. Seeing that glorious fruit in others – and myself – has spurred me on to move towards other people much more readily in order to discover how the gospel connects with issues in their soul.

You’ve just stopped being a pastor and moved to Oak Hill. What does your new role involve?

It’s a multi-faceted role at Oak Hill. In the coming months and years I will be both pastoring student pastors, and teaching them how to pastor others. I will be both modelling and explaining the theory and practice of soul care. It’s an exciting prospect to be able to help shape a new generation of pastors to be biblically wise and engaged with their own growth and that of others.

What are your hopes for biblical counselling generally in the UK?
I long to see biblical counselling become a normal part of every church. That doesn’t mean becoming therapists in the secular sense of the word but rather that the conversations we have with each other are rich with biblical counsel and working towards Jesus-centred transformation. I long to know that the ethos of every church embodies a deep desire to know both Christ and one another intimately so we can encourage perseverance, Christ-likeness, true worship and flourishing faith in every circumstance of life (in ways that are biblical and thoughtful). And I am committed to working so we get to the point where the pastors and leaders of our churches are equipped in, and supportive of, seeing the gospel connect to the most difficult of pastoral situations. After all, the gospel is always our greatest need and greatest blessing.

How can we be praying for you in this new season of life?

Leaving South West London has been a huge wrench for the whole family – many of our closest friends are there and it’s a big thing to leave that and “start again”. Please pray we are soon able to get involved in a local church where we can all serve the Lord Jesus. Then please pray I will have the wisdom I need to begin well in a new role, learning and observing all that goes to make up Oak Hill, and seeing how pastoral care can best operate there.