Center for Church Leadership

Concordia University Irvine

Forming tomorrow's ministry

In every age and generation there is a need and calling for ministry leaders who are equipped for service in this ever-changing world, a world that is longing for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, as ministry leaders in the church begin to retire, there is a noticeable shortfall of younger workers poised to take on the mantle of ministry leadership. There is an urgent need in the church for trained ministers to step up and fill this gap—leaders willing to receive the mantle passed onto them by those who have gone before them; leaders who understand the complexities of the world we live in; leaders who will continue to lead the church with boldness and conviction in the gospel.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

— Luke 10:2

Concordia University Irvine has seen the need and in response has established the Center for Church Leadership. The Center will equip and form the next generation of pastors and ministry directors for entrepreneurial ministry leadership. Through academic course work, spiritual formation, and hands-on ministry experience, students will be prepared to serve the church in our dynamic and uncertain world.

What We Do

The Center for Church Leadership will equip entrepreneurial ministry leaders by:

  • Working with Christian churches to identify and form young Christians for pastor leadership
  • Forming students personally, spiritually, theologically, and ministerially
  • Equipping students with adaptive ministry skills for effective service in a changing context
  • Working collaboratively with a broad range of Christian churches to have a greater impact for the kingdom of God

How We Will Do It

Students in the Center for Church Leadership will receive a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurial Ministry Leadership and a Master of Arts in Church Leadership. In addition to traditional ministry and theology preparation, such as Biblical and systematic theology, church leadership, and preaching, the Center offers four unique features that will equip students for dynamic ministry:

  • Accelerated Ministry Education
Many traditional routes for pastoral education require students to complete four years of undergraduate education on top of an additional three to four years of graduate school education. The Center accelerates ministry formation by combining undergraduate and graduate education into a unified program. Up to 23 units of the BS program will satisfy MA course requirements, which will enable students to complete both their BS and MA coursework in five years, with a year of residency to follow. The accelerated format allows students to complete their schooling faster in order to get into ministry leadership roles sooner.
  • Focus in Entrepreneurial Leadership
Many pastors and ministers who have gone through traditional routes of seminary and ministry education come to realize that their schooling did not prepare them for leadership roles in their church. They’ve taken classes on how to exegete the Bible, how to write and deliver a message, and in how to counsel with those who are in distress, but they are at a loss when it comes to managing a budget, supervising a staff, and fundraising for new projects and endeavors. The Center bridges this gap by offering courses in finance and non-profit leadership. The addition of this important course work will better prepare students for high levels of leadership in local churches and other ministry organizations.
  • Internship Experiences
The Center believes that students learn and are formed by both in class and out of class experiences. Partnerships with local churches play a vital role in the overall education of our students. It is in the local churches that students will receive a “boots on the ground” experience that allows them to put into practice things that they’ve learned in the classroom, as well as bring back to the classroom the experiences that they’ve learned in the field. Students will complete three years of field education experience, with the capstone residency year being a full-time experience in ministry. The intentional nature of the field education experiences helps to better prepare students for life-long service to the church.
  • Personalized Coaching and Mentorship
Each student who comes into the program will receive personalized coaching and mentorship. The coaching will be holistic in nature focusing on the entire person in the areas of academics, spirituality, personal growth, and ministry. Through personalized coaching and mentorship, the Center seeks to create healthy life-long leaders for the church.
We’ve really enjoyed the Concordia talent that God has brought to our internship program. My intern was an exceptional student who was eager to learn and lead, had a 'whatever it takes' servant attitude, and contributed to our ministry in significant ways. Her diverse skill set, heart for the Church, and fresh perspective made our church stronger, and the questions she asked and ways she pushed herself to grow inspired me to be a better leader.

Lisa Birle
Intern Program Manager
Saddleback Church

Contact Us

Professor Jonathan B. Ruehs has been in ministry for over twenty years working in cross-cultural contexts with children, youth, college students, and adults. He has an undergraduate degree from Concordia University Irvine (CUI) in religious studies with a focus on Christian education leadership, an MA degree from Biola University in Christian apologetics, and a seminary degree from CUI in cross-cultural ministry. He is also in the Intercultural Studies PhD program at Columbia International University focusing on the topic of spiritual warfare in a North American context. Besides being a faculty member, Jonathan serves as an assisting pastor at his church in Irvine.

If you would like to support our work or have any other questions, please contact:

Professor Jonathan Ruehs
Director, Center for Church Leadership
[email protected]

Made possible by a generous grant from:

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