Q&A: Joe Schenke.
We talked with Joe Schenke, the dean of students for the Bible Institute's New York campus since fall 2011, in a recent issue.
Education: Bible Institute, 1981-1982; bachelor’s from Trinity University; master’s in Biblical counseling from the Master’s College
Other ministry: Pastor of counseling and family ministry at Fellowship Bible Church in Sewell, New Jersey
Family: wife Connie; Tyler, 22; Curtis, 20; Kayla, 19; Ethan, 16
Q: What was your time as a pastor and counselor like?
A: I am so grateful for the time in local church ministry, where I saw firsthand how the local church is the primary long-term resource for the growing and changing that God provides for believers. One, among many, of the things that we were blessed to be part of was seeing very practically and in a very real way how God transforms lives through the consistent teaching of His Word and through the dynamic of the “one-another” aspects among the members of the body of Christ.
We took what we learned from the 20 years of serving at Word of Life and incorporated it into the local church context. Now the reverse is true as well, in taking what God taught us serving in the local church in pastoral ministry and bringing it into what we now do at the Bible Institute.
Q: What benefits are there from experiencing different styles of ministry, and in different places?
A: It helps me not get stuck doing something the same way just because we have always done it that way.
Q: What do you think the Bible Institute’s value is today for this generation of young Christians?
A: The Bible Institute is a great place for a young person to transition from dependence on parents toward responsible independence.
I believe one of the unique challenges, among many, that this generation faces centers around the technology of information age in which we live. The Internet is a potentially tremendous tool of blessing filled with some incredible resources and information, but it can become corrupted by a fallen world and our own sinful hearts.
I see the desperate need for young men and women alike to establish within their hearts a “biblical firewall” (Proverbs 4:23) to protect them from the unwanted intruders, the enemies of our soul, the world, the flesh and the devil that seek to destroy them like a malicious virus would attack our computers.
Q: Do you have any good stories about students?
A: I remember when someone unscrewed all the fluorescent light bulbs in Council Hall and no one could figure out what happened. What made it more confusing is there was an actual problem with the power on campus the day before, which played right into the mystery and distracted everyone from the possibility it was a prank.
That wasn’t even the funny part for me. It was in discovering who was behind it. This was a really creative prank, and it takes a clever student to think up something like that. I began thinking of some of the pranks that were done in prior years, and for some reason, thought of a specific student from two years prior who had a brother at the Bible Institute that year. I began to wonder if it ran in the family. I saw him in the dining room at lunch and asked him to stop by my office that afternoon.
When he got to my office, I looked him in the eye, with that dean sort of stare, and asked, “Dave, what can you tell me about the lights in Council Hall?” There was a brief silence for three seconds. He cried out, “Mr. Schenke! I can’t believe it! How did you know it was me?!”
Q: After seeing the Bible Institute grow through three decades or so, where do you think the school will be three decades from now? Where do you hope or dream it will be?
A: To go forward, we must go back and learn how to be fresh and creative, while maintaining faithfulness to the Gospel message. The Bible Institute has a tremendous, rich heritage and has seen the blessing of God’s faithfulness. It is my prayer that the ministry of the Bible Institute will continue to be shaped by faithfulness to the message of the Gospel rather than being encumbered by outdated traditions on the one extreme or, on the other hand, conforming to the popularity and fashionability of the idol of relevance. In the end, it is only the timeless Gospel message that carries an eternal impact, and it is the only message that can truly make our ministry relevant.
Do you have someone at Word of Life you would like to hear from in a Q&A?