Downline Ministries: Recruiting a Better Memphis

DownLine (DL) is a local ministry committed to the training and equipping of church, ministry, and lay leadership to more effectively make disciples. Many have heard of the DownLine Institute, in which 120 of the Christian ministry and lay leaders in the city are presently being trained. However, less may be familiar with an incredibly redemptive facet of the ministry taking root in the community, the Emerging Leaders (EL) Program.

The Emerging Leaders program was birthed two years ago in an attempt to maximize the experience of the recent college graduates who were beginning to flock to Memphis to take part in the Institute, while at the same time utilizing these young professionals to bring maximum redemptive impact to our city! Thus, the class of EL which gathers in Memphis each year to participate in the unique, life changing EL experience is compiled of top notch, college educated, missional minded young adults who want to make a difference where the need is great.

While many are originally attracted to Memphis by the opportunity to go through the Institute (one facet of their program), they are quickly educated as to the opportunities to apply their training through DL’s ministry partnerships existing within the city. During the course of 12 months, each student not only goes through the Institute, but serves 6-10 hours a week as a volunteer in one of our urban ministry partnerships, where they have the opportunity to minister up close and personal with youth in Memphis, most of whom are from broken homes and have no consistent Godly presence in their lives. On top of this, EL students are required to work a part-time job in a field of their choosing in order to make ends meet while being spiritually challenged and grown through the community, service, and training, both classroom and relational, which they are receiving.

If every EL were to disperse at the conclusion of their 12 month experience in Memphis, returning to their hometowns or pursuing their desired jobs where opportunity is found, their brief presence would still be profoundly impactful on the life of our city because their intimate involvement and impact in the lives of churches, ministries, neighborhoods and individual lives cannot be overstated.

HOWEVER, to a large degree, EL students are NOT dispersing, and their impact is MULTIPLYING! Though this is not necessarily by design, the Emerging Leaders are taken captive by the opportunity to serve and the incredible community with which to serve. They are tangibly growing in their understanding and relationship with the Lord while being able to see their training “pay off” in the lives of others, especially kids in need.

Last year alone, DL had 28 students in the EL class. By virtue of the quality of their experience and the mercy of God on our city, 25 out of 28 decided to REMAIN in the city, continuing to serve with their ministries whether as volunteers or becoming staff. No matter what vocation they pursue upon graduating the program, they are plugged into the growing undercurrent which is redeeming our city by the grace of God, and they are recruiting others to join the fight! The present class is composed of 45 of the sharpest young talent that America has to offer, and they have come to Memphis to make a difference.

A pipeline has begun, and a new story is being written…they are coming to serve, and as they come, they bring a fresh wind of hope with them…a difference will be made, and our city is transformed for Christ!

This article was contributed by Kennon Vaughan, Founder and Director of DownLine Ministries. For more information on DownLine Ministries, the Institute, and the Emerging Leaders program, visit