An Honors Program Focusing on Leadership and Community Service

By Jennifer Johnson

“There’s a lot of discussion about the cost of investing in a college education,” says Dave Miller, vice president of advancement at Nebraska Christian College. “We want to talk about what the college is investing in the student.”

At NCC in Papillion, NE, part of the investment is The Institute, a new program that rolled out in January and launches officially this fall.

“The Institute is like an honors program, but focused on leadership potential and community service,” Miller says. Students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average to participate, but academic aptitude is just one part of the acceptance criteria.

“The Institute is for the future pastors and practitioners,” Miller says. “A leader’s average stay in ministry is just a few years. We want to connect our undergrads with people who are succeeding for the long haul.”

John Cassetto, worship pastor at Saddleback Church, spoke at Nebraska Christian College’s Chapel in January while visiting as part of The Institute program.
John Cassetto, worship pastor at Saddleback Church, spoke at Nebraska Christian College’s Chapel in January while visiting as part of The Institute program.

So far this has included Lincoln Brewster, a popular musician and worship pastor at Bayside Church in Roseville, CA; Arron Chambers, lead minister at Journey Christian Church in Greeley, CO; Vince Antonucci, lead pastor at Verve Las Vegas; Gene Appel, senior pastor at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, CA; Rory Noland, author of The Heart of the Artist; and many others.

“Institute Leaders,” that is, the students accepted into the program, not only hear from these speakers in chapel and classes, but also get to ask questions and learn more during Monday-night dinners. Alumni and local church leaders can also register to attend many of these events, creating opportunities for ongoing professional growth.

“When Lincoln Brewster is here, he’ll teach a worship arts class, his audio guy and drummer will each do a clinic, and he’ll talk about real experiences and real ministry,” Miller says. “We’re asking these leaders to go deep into the real issues of church leadership.”

The program also requires students to serve at least 20 hours each month in planning sessions, assisting with events, or working in social media and marketing. The Institute also provides savvy students the opportunity to network for internships and future employment and dovetails with “The Gig Promise,” NCC’s pledge to guarantee all Institute Leaders a promising ministry position after graduation.

“Instead of trying to add more degree programs and majors, we’re thinking ‘niche,’ and going deep with the ones we have,” Miller says. “We want the best and brightest students, and we’re using The Institute to create the best opportunities for them.”

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  1. Mary A. Sears
    July 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Please take my remarks as a proud supporter of NCC. My observation is that, yes, your students come away with great biblical truths, servant’s hearts, and love for sharing Jesus with the world.

    My second observation is that their verbal delivery and visual appearance will keep them from being the leaders that we all want them to be! Through many years of training men and women to be effective in the business world and the spiritual, I believe you must know the part, believe the part, look the part, and act the part.

    I would suggest that they all be reviewed many times and given feedback on their personal appearance and verbal delivery. Clothes that fit, shoes that have been maintained, neat hair, etc. Maybe it shouldn’t matter how they look or how they talk, and I will still be loving to them, I just want the world to see better NCC leaders.

    I am disappointed at how many can’t present an idea or devotion without me being sorry for the way they speak and look. Yes, I know I am not to judge, and God knows the heart. But I pray for leaders who can win the most souls for God.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my comments.

    Mary Sears

  2. Andrew Wood
    July 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    As a new NC faculty member, I appreciate Mary’s feedback and will share this as a challenge with my students this fall. Class presentations, “Week of Ministry” trips, internships and weekend ministries are just some of the ways our students get practice in public speaking but there are no doubt ways we can do more. It is an issue with which many Christian colleges wrestle.

    I think the central issue is that dress should not dishonor God or distract from our mission. Aside from requiring basic modesty, the Bible gives us freedom in stylistic issues, allowing for cultural differences and cultural change over time. Formal, casual or even sloppy dress may be appropriate depending on the audience and occasion. The same would hold true for styles of verbal delivery: casual and conversational, or polished and formal may communicate best.

    Mary’s points are well taken though, as no doubt the concerns she mentioned do not always result from an intentional ministry choice but from lack of awareness or preparation. To that I will say that young people are still “in process” and require patient training, in partnership between the college and the churches. While those who are early in their program will still be quite unpolished, I hope our upperclassmen and graduates will shine more clearly.

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