Wave Leadership College

“Wave Leadership College was founded with a vision to combine the best of practical ministry training and academic excellence. I believe that Christian leaders are truly equipped for life and leadership when they experience the rigor of college level academics, comprehend the truth of God’s Word, and have the opportunity to apply what they are learning in a real-life scenario.  We are proud to provide this type of education, equipping our students to succeed in their God given purpose.” –Pastor Steve Kelly, President of Wave Leadership College

A New Year brings with it all new possibilities and a wonderful chance for self-discovery.  What better way to begin 2020 than through education?  Wave Leadership College is located in the heart of Virginia Beach on Great Neck Road.  Their educational focus has a higher purpose in mind for their students.  Wave Leadership College’s mission statement says it perfectly- “The mission of Wave Leadership College, as an experience-rich, academically-adept institution of Biblical higher education, is to equip Christian leaders to build the local church and transform their communities for the glory of God.”    

It all began when Wave Church Pastor Steve Kelly, former Hillsong College Director, established Wave Leadership in 1999. Pastor Steve is a prominent international speaker and worldwide apostolic leader, and his vision for Wave Leadership College (WLC) is to equip current and future ministry leaders to pursue their God given destinies. 

Today, WLC students earn their Associate of Ministry degree within the walls of a thriving local church, with practical ministry opportunities and academic excellence provided by highly credentialed professors. The WLC story is well underway.

Wave Leadership College was commended by the Association for Biblical Higher Education for excellence in its exceptional ministry formation program, Leadership Experience and Practicum (LEAP).  All students earn their college credit while gaining practical leadership experience in their designated track/major.  

There are an abundance of options for tracks and majors.  There are six Associates Degree level tracks including Pastoral Leadership, Worship Leadership, Christian Scholarship,

Professional Leadership, Media & Arts, Community Care and Counsel.  If a Bachelor’s Degree is what you seek, there are five majors that students can earn.  Those majors include Ministerial Leadership, Business Administration, Digital Media, Psychology and Mass Communications.  

Not Just Another Brick

By Derek Holser M.Ed., 

J.D. Vice Chairman of the Board of Wave Leadership College and Professor of American Government and Non Profit Organizations

Pink Floyd, social commentators par excellence, became the voice of a generation (or three) when they sang the following lyrics:

We don’t need no education 

We don’t need no thought control

No dark sarcasm in the classroom

Teachers, leave them kids alone

Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.1 

This bitter diatribe from a 1970’s British rock band represents the somewhat predictable attitude adopted by students. After a few decades of being prodded and processed to complete a program with little motivation other than the illusory promise that one day they could earn a prodigious paycheck, it’s no wonder disaffection and disappointment pervade America’s institutions of higher education. Exacerbated by exorbitant student debt which requires decades to repay, the current state of student satisfaction remains perfectly pronounced by Pink Floyd.  

Numerous cultural trends have conspired to create this quandary. Books have been written, TED Talks have been given. This essay is not intended to provide an exhaustive explanation for all that besets the modern university. Quite the contrary, this article is to identify an alternative model, which draws on much of the past to pave a way for a virtuous future. As Wave Leadership College President Steve Kelly often says: 

“We don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle.”

Frederick Douglass famously remarked, “A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing. But the want of learning is a calamity to any people.” Douglass spoke this at a time when an entire class of people was excluded from education. It is now 2020, and it would be near impossible to find someone who would openly contest the importance of everyone having access to education. 

The work of many people over the past 150 years has produced exponentially increased literacy rates and unparalleled access to formal education for nearly every American. Yet, the persistent pulse of dissatisfaction remains. This ought not be. Why is it that every year brings more dour statistics and dire situations? Why is it that more American students are attempting suicide than at any point since records of this sort were maintained?

“Between 2000 and 2007, the suicide rate among youth ages 10 to 24 hovered around 6.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Then, the rate curved upward, reaching a rate of 10.6 deaths per 100,000 by 2017 – a 56-percent increase in less than two decades.”2  This is alarming. In an age of abundant material wealth and endless technological innovation, the soul of our society is unwell. 

Aristotle is attributed with saying that “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” The decoupling of the spirit and soul from the adventure of learning is a big reason we now see rising anxiety, depression, and pervasive melancholy. 

C.S. Lewis said “the task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” Though the ground may seem dry and dusty, I believe we have a fantastic opportunity to hydrate the tired and desperate souls of a rising generation. 

Which is why I devoted the bulk of my energy during the past twelve years to a community known as Wave Leadership College. Wave Leadership College, which began twenty years ago as a ministry and pastoral leadership training program of Wave Church, is now an accredited degree program with directed practicum requirements that provide every student with rigorous academic instruction and practical application opportunities every week, every semester. 

As an educator and attorney, I’ve had many opportunities to realize the power that wisdom and knowledge bring to a person in fear, doubt, or depression. I’ve had the privilege of teaching and coaching students on the East Coast, the West Coast, Florida, and the Midwest. I’ve taught at every level from elementary to law school. Over the past two decades, I’ve discovered two key principles that create a meaningful transformation in the lives of students. 

The first is that great teachers love their students just a bit more than the subject. This care and devotion to the person first, content second, builds a genuine relationship that yields far more than improved test scores or better recall of facts and figures. This care and devotion yields trust, community, and even joy in the pursuit of understanding. The faculty and staff of Wave Leadership College are dedicated to an open-door policy, allowing any student to continue to pursue understanding (on any issue or concern) outside the classroom. 

Second, I believe as faithful disciples of Jesus, our students are not called to change the world. We are called to redeem the world. The world has experienced plenty of change, and not all of it for the better. I emphasize the distinction between change and redemption because it’s at the core of our approach in education, and in living as a virtuous citizen. “Change” implies that something is wrong “over there” and I must fix it because I have the answer. Redemption implies that every person is made in the image of God and therefore is worthy of love and dignity and compassion. 

Redemption recognizes that there may be something amiss, but the work of redemption is not to change a person. The glory of redemption is that it loves first, it cares for each person individually, redemption will listen to the pain and will remain. A redeemed person is not more than a merely changed person. Redeemed people have experienced a transformative encounter that reveals their great potential within through patient grace and an unwavering commitment to the belief that high standards and ancient virtues are at the core of individual growth and community vitality.

Students at Wave Leadership College are not just “another brick in the wall”. They are the foundation of a remarkable future filled with redeemed lives and transformed communities. The Talmud teaches that“…whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” 3 At Wave Leadership College, we are saving lives, our students are saving lives; and as a result, we will redeem the world.

1. http://www.pink-floyd-lyrics.com/html/another-brick-2-wall.html

2. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/youth-suicide-rates-are-on-the-rise-in-the-u-s

3. Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9; Yerushalmi Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a.