The Emerging Leader program exists to be a launching pad into effective, gospel-centered adulthood. This program is a stark contrast to the extended college and adolescence experience many college graduates fall into post-graduation. In order to accomplish this, there are six components that work together to help create the Emerging Leader experience. Each part is designed to contribute to what we believe is a life-changing whole.
- Participate in the Downline Institute
As an Emerging Leader, you’ll attend the Downline Institute, which consists of six hours per week in a classroom setting. During these hours, you will receive first-class teaching from local and national pastors and teachers in the areas of Old Testament, New Testament, systematic theology, the Downline discipleship curriculum and biblical manhood/womanhood. Classes meet on Mondays from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 5:45 – 7:45 a.m. and Thursdays from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Commit to a Local Church
It is vital that followers of Christ understand the importance of, and participate in, the corporate gathering of believers. Therefore, church attendance and consistent involvement is required of all Emerging Leader students. We are happy to recommend several doctrinally-sound churches and advise you to take your first few weeks in the program to prayerfully consider church options.
- Volunteer Your Time
Every Emerging Leader is required to volunteer four hours per week with a non-profit, para-church or local school. The purpose behind these hours is for students to serve, love and invest in their city and in the lives of others. We highly encourage our students to volunteer in an urban context, but are open to a variety of volunteer options. The Emerging Leader staff will grant the final approval for every student’s volunteer site.
- Work Part-Time
Each student must work and be financially responsible while participating in the Emerging Leaders program. We suggest that students do not exceed 30 hours of work per week due to the time demands of the program, but your financial situation will ultimately determine the amount of work you need. On average, students who live in Downline housing pay between $350-$400/month in rent and utilities. Other aspects of your budget that we encourage you to think through include, but are not limited to: gas, groceries, car payment and insurance, unexpected emergencies, cell phone bill, student loans, health insurance, entertainment and social outings. Assuming that someone is not in serious debt, $800-$1000/month should be enough to sustain a student financially during their Emerging Leader year.
- Direct Discipleship
Downline provides each Emerging Leader with a discipler who takes special interest in his or her personal and spiritual development. We firmly believe that life-on-life relationships are essential catalysts to a believer’s growth and that discipleship does not happen in the classroom. This opportunity to be mentored by an older man or woman of faith here in Memphis provides the tangible life-on-life experience that is crucial to any discipleship relationship and allows each student to witness how to live out his or her faith in all areas of life.
- Be Part of a Community
Downline owns several houses throughout the city of Memphis in which Emerging Leaders live during their time in the program. This arrangement creates an immediate community for the Emerging Leaders and we have continually seen this component of community catalyze and foster life-long friendships. Each house holds five to six students. It is amazing to see the ways students have creatively used these homes to strategically reach their neighbors with the gospel.
There are two additional elements to the Emerging Leader experience that are encouraged, but not required. First, each Emerging Leader is offered the opportunity to participate in an overseas training trip that we believe is an excellent addition to the components listed above in developing a Christ-centered worldview.
Emerging Leaders can apply for one of our three tracks for even more specialized training:
The Marketplace ministry track provides a clear understanding of the integration of our Faith and Work. This includes a biblical understanding of calling as well as an accurate, biblically based theology of work. Through in-depth study of work, stewardship, calling, and servant leadership, the Marketplace track explores the call of God to steward gifts and resources in the divide between what is considered to be sacred and secular. Students participating in this field of study will have the opportunity to hear from Christ-followers who are serving as full-time ministers of the Gospel in the marketplace by stewarding their gifts and abilities in almost every field.
- Urban Ministry
Memphis is the 18th largest city in the U.S., but only 36 percent of that population has a high school education. In the midst of this broken city are men and women who compose some of the top urban leaders in America. They have partnered with Downline Ministries to help us provide world-class urban ministry training. By combining the real-world street experience of our ministry partners with the training of the Downline Institute, we have formed a unique program that will expose students to the realities of urban ministry and teach them how to incorporate what they’re learning into that setting.
- World Missions
Our World Missions track provides an avenue for Emerging Leaders to learn about global disciple-making. This track is for anyone who has interest in world missions for any reason and not just those who are considering serving overseas. The track consists of one additional class a month taught by foreign missionaries, local missions pastors and our international staff, volunteering in a cross-cultural setting, visiting cross-cultural local churches and local places of worship for other religions, and going on at least one overseas trip (these trips require support raising so please factor that in to your decision). For those who considering longer overseas options we will work diligently during the year to connect you to potential overseas opportunities.
We hope you will consider applying and making your own mark in the Emerging Leaders program.