Jonathan Falwell Takes On New Role As Campus Pastor And OSD Senior Vice President
Since the school’s humble beginnings, Jonathan Falwell has seen first-hand his father’s vision for Liberty University come to life. Falwell has never held a formal position on campus, however, until now. The youngest son of the late Jerry Falwell Sr. will step into a new role as campus pastor and senior vice president of Spiritual Development this fall, carrying on the legacy forged by his father since 1971.
The news of the leadership change followed former Campus Pastor David Nasser’s announcement of his departure from the school in April after serving the university for seven years. Acting President Jerry Prevo announced the arrival of Falwell to the Liberty staff in an official statement later that week.
Falwell has served in church ministry at Thomas Road Baptist Church for 27 years, 14 of which have been as senior pastor. Falwell will continue to lead his congregation in the senior pastor position at TRBC as well as spiritually serve students. According to Falwell, stepping into this position means playing a role in impacting and influencing the next generation of leaders.
“We have a lot of potential that is found within the student body of Liberty,” Falwell said. “I want to help all students recognize that potential and unleash their potential as it relates to their service, helping them see God has a plan for them that goes beyond their career.”
Unlocking this potential, according to Falwell, was a key lesson passed along from his father who also pastored the congregation at TRBC before starting Lynchburg Baptist College, now Liberty University. Lessons like these are ones that Falwell hopes to lean back on as he begins to lead the spiritual life on campus.
“My dad taught me here at Liberty and in our home the importance of serving Christ and loving Christ and that God has a plan for each and every one of us no matter our career plans,” Falwell said. “God can use us either as a nurse, a teacher or a business leader, whatever it may be –– God can use us in that potential to advance His kingdom.”
Falwell also plans to lean into the team at OSD, established by Nasser.
“David Nasser has a done a great job at building up a team for the Office of Spiritual Development, so leaning on that team and working with that team is an important part for future success at Liberty,” Falwell said.
Falwell said he is excited to be a part of shaping and crafting the ministry at Liberty alongside the team at OSD. Strong leadership and useful teamwork at Liberty and TRBC are reasons, according to Falwell, for the success and growth both institutions have seen throughout the years.
“My dad would oftentimes tell me that if you want to be successful in life and in ministry, you need to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, recognizing that God never called us to be a brand or famous or elevated,” Falwell said. “God called us to serve and work with others and focus on team.”
Leaders in OSD like David Wheeler and Josh Rutledge are staff members Falwell said he looks forward to working alongside in campus ministry.
While leading in both roles, Falwell spoke to the providential placement of his offices at TRBC and the close proximity to the offices of spiritual development.
“I plan to continue to guide both teams, and again both are full of great leaders and talent with a passion for the Gospel and a passion for ministry,” Falwell said. “They are two different organization with two different congregations and purposes, but I will have the opportunity to work with both of the great teams from a team leadership perspective.”
Although he will be taking Nasser’s former role, Falwell will not make a weekly appearance at events such as Campus Community. Instead he hopes to establish a teaching team filled with resources on campus and around the community to preach through an entire series each semester. He also plans to bring in some well-known pastors and individuals who lead churches around the country.
“We will all be teaching on the same path and the same purpose in mind,” Falwell said. “Our hope for students who show up where they are until the end of the semester to leave with a more vibrant and stronger relationship with Christ as a result of their time here at Liberty.”
Providing an opportunity for students to develop and grow their relationship with the Lord throughout the semester is a major goal Falwell said he hopes to continue building on campus. Enabling students to become a witness and champion for Christ will continue to be the foundation of Falwell’s leadership, looking to his father’s examples of pastor and mentor.
Falwell said he believes that the best is yet to come for the students on Liberty’s campus.
“I want them to see and recognize their God-given responsibility to be a witness and a testimony to this world that is desperate for Christ, showing them who He is and what He has done,” Falwell said.
Hattie Troutman is the graduating Editor-in-Chief. Follow her on Twitter at @hattrout.