We’re eager for you to meet Dr. David Whitaker, the Executive Director of Next Generation Churches in Northern California, and Pastor Josh Lane, their Director of Leadership Development. Six years ago, they challenged us with a leadership development experiment that formed much of the root system for the Center for Leadership Development. Their results have been well beyond expectation and the crop of leaders growing out of the experience continues to produce bountiful results.
Here’s their story as they tell it . . .
“As NextGen looked at our region we noticed a desperate need for theological and biblical training of leaders in local churches. Our culture has effectively deconstructed Christianity, and we found that some of our leaders were ill equipped to put it back together again. We needed a way to equip leaders while they stayed in their ministry context to accomplish our goal of greater ministry effectiveness and cultural impact. CLD has allowed us to bring the best of seminary instruction out of the physical classroom and into the homes and churches of our leaders. “To accomplish that, NGC and Western partnered to create a 9-month certificate called the ‘Ministry Leadership Certificate’ (MLC). At the completion of the MLC, students earn a certificate that is officially recognized by both Western Seminary and NextGen churches.
“NextGen has historically had strong ties to Western so it seemed like a natural relationship waiting to be further developed. The relationship allowed Next Gen to build the Certificate program to fit the culture of NextGen using existing, high quality, video-based instructional resources. The effectiveness and flexibility built into the resources fit perfectly with the demanding schedule of ministry our leaders face. The CLD instructors were known, trusted, and skilled teachers in their areas of expertise, leading to ready acceptance of this innovative approach. “We are currently on our 7th cohort. A total of 60+ leaders that have earned the MLC. The program kicks off every August and culminates with a graduation in May.
The CLD courses form the foundation of the MLC, while allowing us to add strategic live elements to the training. Those additional elements include weekly forums, assigned readings, papers, and live learning events. For our purposes this makes the program more effective, especially for the variety of student learning styles. “Our MLC graduates offer very consistent reflections of their experience. What we hear most is that it is “life changing.” Although that may sound cliched, experience shows the outcomes are anything but that. We have seen our leaders gain confidence in teaching the Bible and leading their teams. And through the nine months of biblical and theological training, they experience a diet that only increases their appetite to grow. For many who have not had the opportunity of formal biblical education, the MLC reopens the door of learning, growing, and continuing on in their studies and development as leaders in their local churches, raising not only the bar for leadership, but the bar for their ministry contexts as they grow in leading well.”
. . . yes, it’s the NextGen story . . . but it could be yours, too.