Strengthening Ministries Training Institute

Strengthening Ministries Training Institute (SMTI) was established in 2010 and exists to promote excellence in Biblical Counselling in the local church in South Africa by training and equipping pastors and other Christians in the theologically accurate and practical use of Scripture in understanding and solving the problems of people, and thus promoting growth in and usefulness for Christ in the Church and the world.

“When it comes to the discipline of teaching biblical counselling there’s no one who does a more thorough job than Dr Wayne Mack. His teaching and training bring passion, clarity and fresh insight to the contemporary practical issues of today. If you are looking for a seasoned scholar who is committed to the sufficiency of Scripture and its power to change lives, then you won’t want to miss this opportunity, it will enrich your life.”

—John F. MacArthur
President of The Master's University

What is the history of Strengthening Ministries Training Institute?

It is with gratefulness to God that we share the progress that Biblical Counselling has made over the last eleven years in South Africa as well as the significant growth it has had over the last two years.

Dr Wayne Mack came to South Africa eleven years ago to teach Biblical Counselling. At that time, he was the only light on the Biblical Counselling tree in the country. During those formative years, he trained over 250 men (mostly pastors) and women in Biblical Counselling. Some of his students pursued their MA in Biblical Counselling through the Master’s University. They were nationals who are currently teachers in the Strengthening Ministries Training Institute (SMTI).

Two and a half years ago, Dr Wayne Mack gained permission to establish the Association of Certified Biblical Counselling Africa (ACBC Africa). A diverse representation of South African cultures forms an integral part of the steering committee. The presence of nationals lecturing at SMTI and being involved on the steering committee of ACBC Africa indicates that Biblical Counselling has come home.

These nationals are the driving force behind establishing a working relationship between a training institute and a certification body (ACBC Africa). Further, these Africans are seeking accreditation from the Counsel of Higher Education (CHE) for a MA in Biblical Counselling through the SMTI programme.

Exponential growth in the Biblical Counselling movement has been seen over the last two years due to the first and second annual ACBC Africa Conferences as well as various Road Trip Conferences.

“While many have departed from truly biblical counselling, Wayne Mack has not. When you sit under his teaching, you can be sure that his training will guide you into scriptural principles and practices from beginning to end. We are thankful to God for raising him up and equipping him to equip others.”

—Jay Adams

Who are the directors of Strengthening Ministries Training Institute?

Dr. Wayne Mack
Dr. Wayne MackFounder
Dr Wayne Mack is a graduate of Wheaton College, Philadelphia Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary as well as having done extensive graduate studies at La Salle University, Eastern Baptist Seminary, Wheaton Graduate School and Trinity Evangelical Seminary. Dr Mack was chairman of the graduate and undergraduate counselling programmes at The Master’s University and Seminary in Los Angeles, California. He currently serves as an Elder at Lynnwood Baptist Church and is the Director of ACBC Africa. Dr. Mack has been inducted into the highest level of membership in the ACBC, and has authored 26 books on counselling issues.
Pr. Sybrand de Swardt
Pr. Sybrand de SwardtDirector
Pastor Sybrand de Swardt is Pastor of Lynnwood Baptist Church in Pretoria where he serves with Dr Mack and is the Director of Strengthening Ministries Training Institute (SMTI). Pastor Sybrand has completed his MA in Biblical Counselling from The Master’s University and is in the process of obtaining his Doctorate of Ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a certified ACBC counsellor and has taught extensively on counselling related issues at SMTI as well as done extensive counselling.
Cillié Malan
Cillié MalanChief Financial Officer
Cillié Malan has been a Senior Software developer and team leader at Retro Rabbit Professional Services since 2010. He specializes in software systems architecture and development and has experience in integrating large software systems within an enterprise environment. He has his BA in Computer Science from the University of South Africa (UNISA). Cillié serves as a Deacon as well as Treasurer of Lynnwood Baptist Church.

Biblical Counselling

What are the distinguishing features of biblical counselling?

Biblical counselling is conscientiously and comprehensively Christ-centred. He is the centre and the circumference of counselling, and everything in between. Examining the nature and causes of human difficulties involves understanding the ways we are unlike Christ in our values, aspirations, desires, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, actions and responses. Moreover, biblical counselling teaches how to acquire, through Christ, the power to replace these behaviours with Christ-like qualities.

Biblical counselling is only effective if the person has experienced the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and when they have come to Christ in repentance and faith and acknowledged Him as Lord and Saviour. In Christ, believers have all they need for effective and productive living. Biblical counselling teaches and reinforces salvation-centred theological convictions which influence, permeate and control every aspect of believers’ lives.

Biblical counselling believes that the local church is God’s instrument for calling the lost to Himself and the context in which He brings people to sanctification. He uses the church to motivate individuals to take off the old manner of life and put on the new. Thus, biblical counselling seeks to train the church body to help believers live their new life in Christ.

Biblical counselling uses Scripture as the source for understanding the nature of humankind and finding ways to resolve its problems. It is totally grounded in the belief that God’s Word is all-sufficient for comprehending and resolving the real issues of life.

Who is SMTI affiliated with?

The Strengthening Ministries Training Institute programme is recognised as a certified Biblical Counselling Centre and an accepted source of education for the certification of Biblical Counsellors by the Association of Certified Biblical Counsellors (ACBC). SMTI is designed to prepare the students to counsel and disciple others from God’s Word under the authority of the local church in South Africa. Therefore, it is the aim of SMTI to:

  • Present a full, unabridged programme in Biblical Counselling
  • Assist students in becoming certified ACBC counsellors:
    • Phase 1: Training in Biblical Counselling at SMTI
    • Phase 2: Completion of the ACBC Certification Exam
    • Phase 3: 50 sessions of supervised counselling
  • Offer an internship at the Strengthening Counselling Centre (SCC)

What is SMTI pursuing?

Strengthening Ministries Training Institute is currently pursuing

What modules are presented at SMTI?

The master’s degree course presented by Strengthening Ministries Training Institute is comprised of modules suited to equip pastors and Christians to counsel from God’s Word. More information about the modules may be found in the Modules section.

Note: there are a total of 8 Compulsory modules. The first module (Introduction to Research and Writing) is short and not compulsory for everyone, depending on their academic history; the ACBC Certification Workshop is only compulsory for those proceeding to work towards ACBC certification.


Week-long and Evening classes

The cost is R2 200.00 per module (Week-long and Evening Classes).

This includes:

  • A manual with module course material
  • Lunches and light refreshments
  • Grading of assignments
R2 200

Online classes

The cost is R1 500.00 per module for the online classes. There are a total of 4 modules that may be taken online, while the last 4 modules run parallel with the Week-Long Classes.

  • The first four modules are completed online
  • The last four modules are completed through contact sessions
  • Each online module is completed over a number of weeks
  • Each contact module is presented over one full week in various locations in South Africa, from Monday - Friday, 8 am - 5 pm (see above)
R1 500

How are the classes in SMTI structured?

Strengthening Ministries Training Institute offers week-long, evening contact and online classes. The teaching will focus on explaining the theory of counselling and promoting the application of Scripture to life. Throughout the programme, qualified biblical counsellors will provide mentorship to students.