LPU Press Room | June 19, 2020

Many pastors discover quickly what they did not learn in college about local church leadership. Even with the wealth of quality education they receive in university and seminary, many fundamental skills can only be learned in the trenches of the local church.

LPU’s Church Partnership Program Director Bobby Howell says the program he leads can change all that as students thrive in their local church environment and simultaneously receive a high quality biblical education. To Bobby, it’s simple arithmetic:

Hands-on, practical ministry experience + quality, accredited education = the Church Partnership Program.

The mission of Life Pacific University is to develop students into leaders who are fully prepared to serve God. LPU Director of Enrollment Management Matthew Tapp says the Church Partnership Program (CPP) provides a new, innovative pathway for the University to accomplish that mission within a student’s local congregation.

“Our Church Partnership Program allows us to work with churches to provide online programs for their students while the church provides a structured internship, equipping students with both biblical education and real-world experience,” Matthew says.

Program advocates view the CPP as the perfect blend of practical and theoretical learning with a mutual commitment for student development and success. Bobby describes the program as a creative and flexible pathway for LPU to support the training of students for ministry in, with, and through the local church.

“We regularly partner with different companies, ministries, and organizations in various ways, but this program is at the core of our mission and what we do at LPU,” says Chief Academic Officer Dr. Daniel Ruarte who has served for the past year as interim CCP director.

With the support of LPU, churches are empowered to recruit students from their local area, bringing biblical education to many who may never have had the opportunity. The CPP makes earning a degree more accessible allowing students to stay and serve in their home church and community.

As an alumnus of Life Pacific, Bobby remembers what it was like to be a student seeking God for his future. “I have always attributed the most significant catalysts of development in my life to my time as a student at LPU as well as the investment of my local church family,” Bobby says.

Bobby describes himself as a native Hoosier with layers of Foursquare in his heritage. He has spent considerable time in the Midwest, California and the South. He makes his home in Gresham, Ore. with his wife Cortney and children Finnegan and Roselynn. He loves the local church and stays in touch with the pulse of ministry through his service to churches in the Pacific Northwest region.

Bobby is an ordained Foursquare minister and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Life Pacific University and a Master of Religious Education from Liberty University. His career path in ministry leadership and higher education administration combines well with his deep sense of God’s call to spread the gospel in any way possible. “This is my driving force, to get the gospel knowledge to those who need it most,” Bobby says.

As director of the CPP program, Bobby has a clear vision for the students he will serve. “My desire is that each student not only receives a quality education, setting them up for future success in life and ministry, but that they also feel deeply loved and supported by their local church throughout the journey.”

As the program kicks off this fall, Daniel is pleased with the prospects of national appeal for prospective students. He is convinced that Bobby will bring a new level of focus, management, and skill needed to take the Church Partnership Program from coast to coast. “I truly believe this program will be one of our signature partnerships and one sought after by ministries around the country,” Daniel says.

On behalf of University leadership, Matthew expressed gratitude for Daniel’s leadership as interim director during the pilot year of the program, noting the excellent foundation he provided for Bobby and the team to build on for the future. Underpinning the plans, dreams, hard work, and prayer that have been invested in the Church Partnership Program, Bobby knows the most important outcome for students is the personal transformation that will take place inside each one of them.

“I want students to have space to learn and grow, achieve new experiences, be able to complete something measurable for their future as well as ponder what’s next. I want them to grow spiritually as they learn to discern the voice of the Lord,” Bobby says.


By: Rod Light, M.A., an ordained Foursquare minister, LPU adjunct professor, and freelance writer.