The Grow Center for Church and Mission launches this month at Northern Seminary. This new division of Northern will connect “Starters” (entrepreneurial-gifted Christian business professionals, pastors, and church planters) to grow in wisdom in order to help churches thrive.

Every congregation has an untapped resource- persons who are gifted as apostles (Ephesians 4). These “sent ones” often bring new ideas to congregations—whether as entrepreneurial professionals, church planters, or pastors. In these days of COVID-19, starters can design innovative ministries to respond to the changing world. We are particularly interested in training congregations of color to engage their communities and empower women to use their gifts.

We are excited to welcome Tommy Lee as the new Executive Director of the division. He joins Hugh Halter who has already begun training students this summer and is planning for the first immersion experience in Alton, Illinois September 28-30. Tommy is currently the President of Resource Global, where he develops initiatives to engage marketplace leaders, trains and coaches marketplace leaders to integrate faith and work, collaborates with churches and ministry organizations to develop city engagement strategies, coordinates with non-profit ministries to evaluate strategic plans, and assists Christian business owners to start businesses in under-resourced areas. Tommy and his family live on the South Side of Chicago.

Tommy is very excited to oversee the goals of this endeavor. He explains, “While there will always be a need for traditionally trained seminary pastors, new partnerships and training programs will have to be established to engage against the decline of the church taking place all over the world. The goal is to convene starters (pastors, church planters, churches, and Christian business professionals) to become the modern-day pastor and entrepreneurial ministry leader.”

He continues, “This will be accomplished through networking and mutual learning, but also hearing from ministry and marketplace leaders all over the world. My hope is that the Grow Center for Church and Mission will develop these individuals who will help their churches and communities flourish. Together, we will take the Gospel to all the ends of the Earth.”

The Grow Center is currently seeking Fellows to participate in the first cohort in a program called, “Two Years to Grow.” These Fellows are women and men from a variety of contexts who share a passion to start new ventures. They are also centered on the person and presence of Jesus and his mission in the world. Our Fellows are practitioners from all seasons of life. Some are just getting started and some have decades of experience, but everyone has a vision to grow something new.

Fellows will receive

  1. Connection with other people who are gifted similarly.
  2. Biblical training to gather and mobilize leaders effectively.
  3. Spiritual practices for apostolic ventures.
  4. Resources to communicate their vision in their context.

Over two years, Fellows will

  1. Be a part of an immersion experience for apostolic, entrepreneurial church planters, thriving marketplace professionals, and church leaders.
  2. Two years of cohort experiences and learning labs where they pressure-test their ideas and implement their projects with their congregations.
  3. A closing celebration where Grow Center Fellows can celebrate together.

Apply Now and learn more about “Two Years to Grow” ❯

Contact Tommy Lee at

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