Rod Light | February 2, 2021

Students in LPU’s Immersive Training Program learn from accomplished pastors in diverse communities and are mentored to become lifelong disciples of Christ as they earn an accredited degree.

Life Pacific University wants students to be actively engaged as lifelong learners and for some that means practicing what they are being taught as they earn their degrees. The Immersive Training Program at LPU offers multiple pathways for students to be developed based on their personal calling, skillset, gifting, and desires.

Daybreak Church in Carlsbad, Calif. provides 17 students with an immersive experience in LPU online classes as the students shadow pastors from the church in various ministries. The church plans to expand with more openings for students, who like the initial 17, spend all their waking hours living, ministering, and learning together.

“Being at Daybreak has been an incredible experience and it’s just getting started,” says LPU sophomore Madelyn Nolte, part of Daybreak Church’s leadership college. “I’ve met many wonderful people that love and care about me and are excited to walk with me on my path.”

Photos from the virtual signing event with Pastor Jerry Kaping and the team at Wellhouse Church in Sisters, Oregon.

Serving in 24-7 proximity with experienced ministry leaders, ITP students at Daybreak experience much of the responsibility of full-time ministry through heavy emphasis on teamwork and leadership development. At this site, the focus is all about learning to work together. When one intern has a heavy load and needs a helping hand, another intern steps up.

ITP leaders recognize that intentional mentoring and hybrid educational models create space for those students who prefer to learn through action. Depending on the specific degree focus, ITP students commit from one to four years in immersive learning programs like Daybreak where they grow and develop as effective leaders for the Kingdom of God.

Program director Bobby Howell (’07) says students learn how to reach their neighbors through social engagement within a familiar context. These students apply biblical, theological, and leadership concepts as they effectively reduce barriers and live out Christ’s mandate in Matthew 28:19 to, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Photos from the virtual signing event with Dream Center NYC and their team, including Chaz & Heather Hanna and Amber Beauchamp.

Photos from the virtual signing event with Dream Center NYC and their team, including Chaz & Heather Hanna and Amber Beauchamp.

“Our approach is simple but intentional,” Bobby says. “We welcome groups of likeminded students willing to do life together in the field as they learn the same curriculum offered on campus, but with the added twist of practical experience, community growth, focused discipleship, and pastoral care thrown in.” The dramatic encounters with Christ that tend to come while learning and serving are coupled with pastoral care and relationship. Bobby believes this care further reinforces the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in and through community.

He points out an increasing number of students who need space to discern what the Lord is asking them to do. Mentors in ITP settings focus on offering transferable skills that help the students succeed and carry valuable lessons about leadership with them when it’s time for their next assignment.

The partnership between Church and University is a perfect fit, Bobby adds. “We discovered pastors who were begging to invest in young leaders. They wanted to flex their discipleship muscles and we said, ‘Let’s do this together!’”

Photos from the virtual signing event with Pastors Matt and Heidi Messner at Eureka Faith Center.

Photos from the virtual signing event with Pastors Matt and Heidi Messner at Eureka Faith Center.

ITP experiences provide a safe place to help students answer questions that if left unanswered can become roadblocks to their growth and career paths. The process is more about healthy development and personal connections with people than about the specific locations or even the tasks that students are asked to do.

“The support and community I have gained has been incredibly overwhelming in the best way,” says LPU sophomore Analise Kramer, an ITP student at Abundant Living Family Church’s college in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. “God is definitely using this experience to prune and mold me so I can confidently step into and live out the purpose He has given me.”

Some students simply need a place to serve where leaders express a personal interest in them and commit to investing in their lives. Affirmation brings confidence and breaks down barriers for students to spread their wings and effectively step into their own leadership capacity. The greatest outcome is when a student experiences clarity about what God is calling them to do for the rest of their lives.

Photos from the virtual signing event with Pastors Keith and Coco Jenkins at East Hill Church in Gresham, Oregon.

Photos from the virtual signing event with Pastors Keith and Coco Jenkins at East Hill Church in Gresham, Oregon.

Pastors Keith and Coco Jenkins and their team at East Hill Church in Gresham, Ore. are developing an ITP site called Discover Northwest, enrolling now for Fall 2021. Pastor Coco has a strong passion to see every member of the body of Christ mobilized to serve others. Bobby says her drive for community engagement and transformation is inexhaustible.

Photos from the virtual signing event with Pastor Pat McFall and New Hope Hawaii Kai.

Photos from the virtual signing event with Pastor Pat McFall and New Hope Hawaii Kai.

Another Fall 2021 site in Honolulu, Hawaii with Pastor Pat McFall will focus on healthy family and interpersonal relationships as students live in congregant’s homes and experience cross-cultural living and ministry. “Pat’s high energy, deep heart for people, and strong commitment to educational development will undoubtedly be infused in every aspect of New Hope Hawaii Kai’s ITP experience,” Bobby says.

A third new site is a collaborative effort between two distinct ministries. Crescent City Foursquare is a rural church on the north coast of California with a heart for experiential discipleship. Leaders at the church will branch out taking ITP students into the heart of San Francisco to experience urban ministry together with San Francisco Bay Church.

Photos of the virtual signing event with Crescent City Foursquare Church.

Photos from the vitual signing event with Pastor Roger Bodenstab and Crescent City Foursquare Church.

“Serving with diverse ministries and leaders helps our students sort out their individual gift mix and experience their own aha moments as they discover that there is more to life and work than simply accomplishing a task,” Bobby says. Each person grows and develops at a different pace and Bobby believes the ITP provides opportunities beyond the normal rubric to help students succeed.

The growing network of immersive experiences promises to provide students with training and skills that enhance their calling and gifting. Throughout the process, Bobby says students gain an excitement about discipleship that he hopes becomes a model in their lives. In the end, students who experience personal discipleship through the ITP will disciple others creating a self-perpetuating process of reproducing healthy leaders.

The value of LPU’s Immersive Training Program and the partnership between Church and University will be felt for decades to come. The outcome is universally good for congregations, organizations, and students alike.


If you are interested in becoming a student, please visit lifepacific.edu/immersivetraining. If your church or ministry is interested in becoming an Immersive Training Partner, click here to contact our program director

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