Insights & Information

Preparing Christian leaders


Distance learning has not only shrunk the globe but increased the affordability and access of university-level training in ministry.

Adam Wingate, who joined the Triad Baptist staff Aug. 1, plans to use The Leadership Institute to leverage that trend to build tomorrow’s leaders for the church, workplace, and home.

The Leadership Institute combines the church’s cooperative E4-12 master of arts degree program with Piedmont International University and the Saturday Bible Institute classes under one banner. Wingate, The Leadership Institute’s first part-time director, thinks the impact will be felt most in the pews.

“The Leadership Institute will play a critical role in the health of TBC, and the opportunities the church will have in the future,” said Wingate, now continuing his doctoral studies at Piedmont after earning his MBA (2016) and M.Div. (2012) degrees from Liberty University. He earned his undergraduate degree from Southern Seminary’s Boyce College.

“Personally, I feel that the ministry model in churches across the United States will change over the next generation of leaders,” he said. “When churches are not growing, people can put undue pressure on pastors to fix the problem. Rather than placing the expectation on the pastor to grow the church and further its ministries, I believe members should ask themselves, ‘What am I currently doing to develop my own abilities to contribute to the effective leadership at my church?’

“If Triad is going to continue to be effective in a world that is constantly changing, I want to be involved in helping members develop their core capabilities so they can positively contribute to the church’s growth and enjoy God’s future blessings.”

Along with Wingate, the other new part-time staffers that joined Triad’s team earlier this summer are: Rick Reynolds, the new head of the church’s Connect Groups small-group ministry, and Jason Shuler, recreation director. All three report to Lead Pastor Rob Decker.

Practically speaking, Wingate said The Leadership Institute’s program offerings remain the same. Those who wish to earn credits toward a Master of Arts in Ministry degree can still do so through the E4-12 program of Piedmont, and Triad will continue to serve as a host organization to the university. Likewise, those interested in learning for their own enrichment may take E4-12 classes, he said.

The Leadership Institute

“We feel that combining the best of each program (E4-12 and The Institute) under one name enables us to reach a larger audience and creates less confusion.”

The next E4-12 session begins Sept. 10 with a video-based course on apologetics featuring Alex McFarland and other presenters and offered for master’s level credit or for enrichment studies. Watch The Leadership Institute’s page on for information about future classes.

Decker said that Wingate’s academic pedigree and interest in further broadening Triad’s educational offerings made him a natural choice as The Leadership Institute’s first director. In his new role, Decker said, Wingate builds on the leadership of Dick Lockhart who led both programs until health issues left him unable to continue.

“Adam’s father also is a pastor, and Adam is young and has lots of energy and ideas for how to advance our program,” Decker said. “It’s a great fit for us.”

Choosing Triad

Wingate said that he and his wife, Katie, were drawn to Triad after first experiencing Decker’s preaching and the praise and worship music of its contemporary worship service online.

“We have known of Triad for several years but we started attending the contemporary worship service in January 2016 after watching the online worship service,” Wingate said. “Pastor Rob’s expository preaching style and the contemporary music in the early worship service played a large part in our decision to become regular attenders.

“While at Triad, we’ve been fortunate to meet people in the Connect groups small-group ministry and Sunday school,” he said. “We have been with the Homebuilders Sunday school class since it started this Spring.”

Wingate, in the first year of his Ph.D. studies in leadership and organizational management at Piedmont — which he selected for its global connections and outreach, approach to solving leadership problems facing churches, and its innovative approach to using technology to lower tuition and increase educational access — is trusting God for his future ministry decision.

“Right now, I’m in a season of preparation,” Wingate said. “I have the opportunity to learn about the successes and failures of those in leadership. While I have advanced degrees in fields as different as ministry and business administration, I feel that my current coursework at Piedmont will give me the opportunity to weave together the best aspects of each field.

“I find great satisfaction in helping struggling churches lay a foundation for future growth,” he added. “In the future, I could see myself helping the leaders of church plants train lay leaders and volunteers for effective service. I have also worked in a number of industries outside of ministry, so if God wants to provide a secular platform for me to work in and volunteer my time in the local church, then I am fine with that as well.”

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