Nine years ago, Burt Smith had a problem. The issue of how to develop and release more young leaders within the Foursquare movement was keeping him awake at night. While the church he pastors, The Church of Living Water (Olympia Foursquare Church) in Olympia, Wash., had seen strong results from the school of ministry they had developed for young leaders, he knew that most churches within Foursquare lacked an intentional model for discipling college-age students.
“We were sitting on a goldmine,” Pastor Burt says, “but at that time we had no way to help other churches reproduce this ministry model that had proven so effective. We needed a means within Foursquare to help pastors discover what was possible, and a method to help them move forward.”
With the sponsorship of the National Church Office, Pastor Burt and a group of leaders from around the country began to shape a network of Foursquare churches that were committed to establishing immersive discipleship opportunities for young leaders. That led to the formation, in 2006, of the Emerging Leader Network (ELN).
As the national coordinator for ELN, it has been encouraging to me to see its growth in the past few years. Today there are more than 230 students in 22 affiliated schools of ministry across the country, serving eight of our 14 districts. By the end of 2011, we’re on track to have 26 ELN programs operating in 12 districts.
What we’ve discovered is that many pastors sense a strong calling to develop and deploy young leaders. So when they learn that ELN is there to resource and include them in this movement-wide endeavor, they want to be a part.
To equip Foursquare leaders to begin these schools of ministry, ELN has hosted a number of Leadership Forums. These annual events have attracted leaders from more than 100 churches in five countries.
After last November’s Leadership Forum, one participant wrote: “I walked away from the Forum with more written information, contacts and personal information via conversations than I ever thought I would have received. I jumped on a plane back to Texas with the confidence that not only can I launch an ELN program, but I also have the contacts to help me along the way!”
ELN has also experienced real support and partnership from Life Pacific College (LPC) in San Dimas, Calif. LPC has created a unique scholarship opportunity for ELN students, offering them a free year of tuition through their Department of Distance Learning. Dozens have taken advantage of this generous scholarship, and a number have already gone on to pursue their bachelor’s degrees at LPC.
For more information about ELN, the LPC scholarship and the 2011 ELN Leadership Forum, log on to www.emergingleadernetwork.com.
All Foursquare certified Bible institutes, including ELN programs, participate in each year’s Institute Symposium. At this year’s Symposium, March 22–24, we’re honored to have author and apostolic leader Alan Hirsch join us. Leaders who are interested in starting Bible institutes are encouraged to attend. For information, call 213.989.4258, or visit Leadership Tools.
By: Tim Mossholder, national coordinator for the Emerging Leader Network