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Vibrant churches with active community ministries have embraced a 24/7 approach to preparing young leaders for ministry. It’s known as the Foursquare Emerging Leader Network (ELN), and offers training that immerses students in local church and communitywide service and leadership.

The Foursquare Church recently welcomed several new ELN programs to the expanding network, including locations in Marietta, Ga., Fort Wayne, Ind., and Eureka, Calif. There are now a total of 27 ELN programs across the U.S.

ELN National Coordinator Tim Mossholder believes the network is effective because its programs equip the minds of students through a deep knowledge of the Word of God while providing them with a range of ministry skills. Most significantly, Tim says, “the hearts of students are shaped through life-transforming relationships with trusted mentors.”

The REFUGE School of Ministry in Marietta, Ga., is the first ELN program in the Southeast District and was birthed as a ministry of Refuge West (Marietta Refuge Foursquare Church), a congregation known in its community as a “house of healing and restoration.” REFUGE organizers believe this is the perfect environment in which to train young leaders in frontline ministry while they learn.

Like other ELN programs, EMERGE at Life Bridge (Fort Wayne Life Bridge Foursquare Church) in Fort Wayne, Ind., is a leadership program that “develops Christian character, skill sets that provide a foundation for Christian ministry, and discipline that provides the basis for an abundant and joyful life’s journey,” according to the ministry’s website.

ELN students participate in local church ministry as they learn the ropes of living for God and serving His people. During their first year, students at Redwood ELN in Eureka, Calif., rotate through ministries to youth and children, creative worship and graphic arts, pastoral care, administration and outreach. The following year, students specialize in one of these programs, and also plan and participate in community outreaches. Redwood ELN partners with Faith Center (Eureka Foursquare Church).

In addition to a host of opportunities to lead and serve, ELN students simultaneously engage in structured college level Bible classes.

Redwood students receive foundational Bible instruction through the North Coast Bible Institute, a certified Foursquare Bible institute. On completion of the program, students will have earned a cumulative 32 credits that are transferable to many Bible colleges, including Life Pacific College in San Dimas, Calif.

Leaders at REFUGE have high aspirations for the students they train.

“We strive to equip young leaders with the experience and knowledge they will need as they pursue the call of God on their lives,” REFUGE ministry leaders note. “We believe the Bible demonstrates that this is accomplished through intentional personal relationships.”

EMERGE Director Bill Campbell is also senior pastor of Life Bridge, and says EMERGE offers accredited college courses that challenge the heart and the mind with broadened knowledge of the Bible. He believes the “wide range of practicum ministry students participate in is the crucible where ministry skills are developed.”

Tim Mossholder says that ELN schools of ministry typically begin in churches, both large and small, where there is a passion to equip and release the next generation. The national ELN team offers resources and coaching for pastors and local church leaders who want to begin an ELN program. A certification process through the Foursquare Institutes Office qualifies programs to affiliate with ELN.

“As pastors open their churches and their lives to college-age leaders, beautiful things are happening,” Tim says. “These students will forever carry the mission and passion of the leaders who helped to develop and deploy them.”

Complete details about starting an ELN institute or participating in a local program are available on the ELN website.

By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles

was an ordained Foursquare minister, Life Pacific University instructor and freelance writer.