Liberty’s Center for Church Advancement reinforces Falwell Sr.’s vision of outreach

On the wall of Professor Chris Dowd’s office on the third floor of the Freedom Tower are four pictures depicting the beginnings of Liberty University. They show events such as the very first issue of the Liberty Journal, Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. casting his vision on the mountain, and Dr. Falwell and a team of others laying the brick foundations for Liberty Baptist College. 

“This school was started by a church planter for the purpose of training up pastors and church planters,” Dowd, director of the Center for Church Advancement (CCA) said. “On our 50-year anniversary, the Center for Church Advancement began for the purpose of making this vision a reality.” 

Pursuing the mission of coming alongside local churches in their quest to fulfill the great commission, CCA focuses on three main areas: church planting, church revitalization and church resources. One way that the Center fulfills these three objectives is through CCA’s mobilization program, directed by Yanni Tsamoutalidis. 

“I meet with pastors locally, here in Virginia, and regionally and ask them different ways that our university can just come alongside them. We’ll send teams of students to help them with outreach projects like evangelism, canvassing in neighborhoods and helping them host outreach events. It’s just a great way to give them more boots on the ground to help them be the hands and feet of Christ in their community,” Tsamoutalidis said. 

CCA also partners with GenSend, which is a missionary development experience alongside North American Mission Board church planting. According to Tsamoutalidis, CCA’s goal in this partnership is to empower students to not just volunteer for a single event, but to learn what it looks like to live life on mission. Liberty student Will Jones has experienced this firsthand, having spent the last two summers with GenSend in Chicago. 

“My first summer there, God confirmed in me my calling to ministry, and my second summer there, God broke my heart for the city of Chicago and called me there once I graduate. I will never forget the experience I had this past summer,” Jones said. 

Offering more than just mission trips, CCA has recently created a church planting minor, Master of Arts program and a Master of Divinity cognate. The center integrates three learning methods in their curriculum which includes the classroom for academic work, church planting simulators for collaborative learning and fieldwork for experiential learning. For those who may not be ready to declare a church planting minor, the church planting course can also be taken as an elective, open for anyone who may be interested no matter their major.

With their first overnight trip happening this year, CCA will be taking students to Norfolk, Virginia over fall break, and to Salt Lake City, Utah over spring break to come alongside church planters for support. 

“We believe champions for Christ should champion his church,” Dowd said. 

The Center for Church Advancement also hosts on-campus events. On Saturday, Nov. 4, CCA will host a church planting simulator activity in the Montview Alumni Ballroom. Students participating will snack on a free breakfast while they collaborate with a team to develop plans to plant a church in a specific zip code area, and the methods to evangelize and disciple the area. Then participants will present their findings over a Chick-fil-A lunch to church planters and church planting organizations from all over the country. 

The event will be held on Homecoming weekend.  To register for the event visit this website.

For anyone interested in joining church mobilization trips visit their website.

Perez is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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