Serving the Future of the Church: Pepperdine Launches Three Church Leadership Initiatives

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Pepperdine CampusPepperdine University recently launched two programs designed to support emerging church leaders and to discover and train future preachers. A third initiative will feature a landmark study that examines spiritual leadership in our churches.

Youth Leadership Initiative
Seeing a great need to reach and encourage young people from the churches of Christ to prepare themselves for college, their careers, and their future service to the Church, Pepperdine University recently launched the Youth Leadership Initiative.

Jeff Walling, a nationally known public speaker and youth leader, will return to Southern California to serve as the founding director of this initiative. Walling will develop programs that will encourage young Christian men and women to discover and develop their leadership skills in order to strengthen their faith, succeed in their careers, and advance the mission of the Kingdom of God.

The Next Gen Preacher Search is one of the first programs being developed to identify and encourage emerging leaders in our churches. Though most programs will be aimed at much younger teens, this first program is open to high school juniors and seniors and college age students.

Applicants will be invited to submit a five-minute video sermon through YouTube.  These videos will be reviewed and ranked by a panel of preachers for content and presentation effectiveness.  To generate interest in the program, the students will also receive points on the “view count” of their lessons.  Forty semi-finalists will be selected and announced in November of 2014.  They will be provided with a mentor minister in their region who will help and encourage them for four months.

In early 2015 the semi-finalists will be invited to participate in a two-day regional training event in their area with Jeff Walling and other preaching coaches from the region.  At the conclusion of the training event they will present their messages again. Four finalists will be offered another session of personal training and will receive teaching resources including software, books as well as a yearlong mentoring relationship with an active leading preacher.  Each finalist will be given an opportunity to speak at various events such as the North American Christian Convention, The Tulsa Workshop, Lipscomb University’s Summer Celebration, The Pepperdine Bible Lectures and the Winterfest Youth Conferences.

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Leading a community of faith is personally rewarding, but it is never easy. Resources are slim and supportive networks are few. Ministers are leaving their pulpits in record numbers. Many are leaving ministry for other careers. Pepperdine is offering a program to encourage and equip young ministers at the beginning of their careers.

Through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Pepperdine is offering a special program, tuition free, for early career ministers who desire to lead their congregations toward becoming significant agents for positive change in their communities.

Communitas, Pepperdine’s pastoral leadership program, is forming a cohort of fifteen ministers currently serving in churches in the greater Los Angeles area. Specifically, the program is seeking ministers in their first five-to-ten years of ministry who have demonstrated high potential for significant leadership.

This cohort will participate in a series of 2-day retreat-seminars, over a two-year period. Meeting quarterly at the Graziadio Executive Center on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus, participants will be brought into conversation with business, political and community leaders and with Pepperdine faculty who have particular expertise related to pressing social and economic issues in the Los Angeles community. Each session will also provide experiences for worship, fellowship, and spiritual renewal.

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Barna Spiritual Leadership Study
Pepperdine recently announced that it will partner with Ventura, CA – based Barna Group—widely considered the leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture. The project will assess the current climate and future outlook for spiritual leadership, especially among ministers and pastors in the Protestant churches as well as churches of Christ.

Research during year one of this two-year study will focus on understanding the needs, challenges, and well being of today’s church leaders. Year two will build on those findings by studying leadership outside of the clergy and examining the role of seminaries in shaping effective leaders inside and outside of full-time vocational ministry.

“Few jobs are more difficult than being a pastor or minister, and yet effective spiritual leadership—whether from the pulpit or the pews—has never been more crucial,” said David Kinnaman, Barna Group’s president and principal owner. “We’re so pleased to partner with Pepperdine on major new research that will surface important trends and cutting-edge information for anyone seeking to be a better leader in today’s complex culture.”

Barna will work with University leaders and faculty to shape the survey and will present early findings during the 2015 Pepperdine Bible Lectures.

About Pepperdine
Pepperdine is a Christian university that is committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. The University, affiliated with churches of Christ, is known for its national ranking, academic rigor, spiritual life, athletic programs, international campuses, and the beautiful views of its Malibu campus.

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