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.”
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.”