Ambrose University

Raising Up the Next Generation

Over the years, Foothills Alliance Church has had a steady stream of Ambrose students serving in various roles within its congregation—from Intercultural to Youth Ministries, from ALPHA to Worship Arts. “It’s been a real joy,” says Lead Pastor Ian Trigg.

“Ambrose students are bright, they’re focused and they’re passionate about what they’re doing. I think that our church is healthier because of their influence and we want to be a positive influence in their lives as well.”

For Nicole and Andrew Berg, who have recently been hired as Assistant Youth Pastors, Foothills has indeed been a place of personal growth and encouragement in their calling to ministry. Their path to serving on the pastoral staff serves as a model of how churches can raise up successive generations of leaders.

By sharing leadership opportunities on an inter-generational team, Nicole and Andrew learn by leading, and they were ready to contribute effectively, in part, because of the preparation they received at Ambrose.

The road to Foothills

Nicole grew up serving in the church’s worship and youth ministries, so when she graduated from Ambrose with an Associate in Ministry Diploma, the transition into full-time ministry was a natural step.

“It’s like we’ve skipped the awkward get-to-know-you phase,” Nicole says of joining the pastoral team, “and are already right at the heart of our students’ and families’ struggles and joys, hardships and celebrations. I love working alongside the pastors and staff who have walked with me for the past two decades.”

Andrew, who is currently enrolled in the Church Ministries program at Ambrose, agrees and adds: “It’s awesome to know I’m being shaped by the Master’s hands as I learn with the help of the experienced, incredible leaders here.”

As a young adult trying to discern her call to ministry, Nicole often wondered if Foothills would be the launching pad for service in a new context. She and Andrew married while studying at Ambrose, and during their two-year internship, served as youth pastors in Hope Town, Elbow Cay in the Bahamas. But when they returned to Calgary for Nicole’s graduation, she sensed God calling her back to the Foothills congregation.

Image of Andrew and Nicole Berg standing in front of a brick wall, smiling and looking very professional

Nicole joined the staff as a Family Administrator in the summer of 2015, but when the church needed to hire a youth pastor the following year, Trigg says, “it just became very obvious that we ought to be looking at Nicole and Andrew to fill that position. We were so happy to be able to hire both of them.”

Andrew’s call to ministry unfolded in a different way. Like Nicole, he grew up very connected to church life, but his connection was strong because he was a pastor’s kid.

“The first time God told me I would be a pastor too I said ‘no’,” he recalls, smiling, “but this happened more than once until I came to a point where I recognized I desperately need the fullness of Triune God in my life. And almost like a rhetorical question, I again asked God what He wanted me to do, and He said, ‘I want you to lead my flock and preach my Word,’ so I said ‘yes’ wholeheartedly.”

“The next step along this journey of saying yes to God was education, and Ambrose was the obvious and best fit.”

Preparation at Ambrose

“I chose a Church Ministry degree because it would not only intellectually equip me, but also do an exceptional job of preparing me for the practical aspects of ministry,” Andrew continues.

The balance between intellectual growth, gaining practical skills and spiritual formation has been a highlight for Nicole as well: “I have learned so much more about our gracious and loving God and about my calling after attending Ambrose.” 

“The most important lesson I have learned is that even before being called into ministry, we are called to know God, first and foremost. Our effectiveness in ministry comes not because of our own striving or even our equipping; instead, it’s an expression of fruit that grows by the Spirit of the Living God working in and through us.”

Professors who invest in relationship

This understanding of spiritual growth is modelled by Ambrose professors and becomes a part of the DNA of Ambrose students. “At Ambrose, you have professors from a variety of experiences and backgrounds who are passionate, who are also on a learning journey and who want to see the Kingdom of God furthered through the equipping of His saints,” says Andrew.

Speaking of the relational nature of her professors, Nicole adds: “They model living face-to-face with Jesus Christ. In my time at Ambrose I had many opportunities to gain hands-on experience that put head-knowledge into practice. As professors mentored me through those learning opportunities they offered grace, encouragement and feedback, all coated in prayer!”

Hands-on learning opportunities

One of Andrew’s most practical experiences at Ambrose so far has been serving on Legacy Youth Conference’s Central Planning Team. “I get to put a lot of what I learned and experienced in that role to good use as I lead events and shepherd students in youth ministry at Foothills,” Andrew says.

Nicole agrees, recalling her student leadership role as Chapel Worship Arts Coordinator: “Having experience recruiting, auditioning, scheduling, and creating worshipful atmospheres for a diverse group of people was challenging and valuable, both then and in ministry now.”

Increasing joy and passion for ministry

“We’re grateful for the role Ambrose has played in Andrew and Nicole’s development and growth,” Trigg says. “And their excitement for ministry is awesome.”

And while Andrew and Nicole have a unique story, they are only two examples of Ambrose students serving at Foothills. Trigg is quick to highlight others. Speaking of several other staff members including Bekah Hagan, Eric Mok, Jill White and Natalie Ehrenholz (just to name a few recent grads), he says:

“We only hired most of these kids last year. The number on staff has increased exponentially, and as it did, so did the level of joy and passion. It’s been such a fantastic thing. These student are remarkable and gifted and we’re very thankful to have them on our leadership team.”

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