Meet David Schomer, Student Ministry Worship Leader at Willow Creek North Shore Campus. This is his story on the impact residency had on his ministry training.
David’s upbringing wasn’t unlike many others his age. “I had my share of pain, heartache, and disappointment… parents who didn’t stay together, etc. I was a pretty normal lost good kid!” Though there was a season where he was admittedly chasing his own path, he had a youth pastor that strategically invested in him and challenged him to serve. And because of his natural musical ability, the youth worship band was the perfect fit. He quickly found his niche and served in the band throughout high school. Again the strategic investment of a leader proved worthwhile. “The worship pastor there was hugely influential in my life and pushed me to improve my skill…. Because of these lessons and the times on stage, I grew to understand that I was called to ministry.”
Growing up in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska, he didn’t have to travel far to find his next step—Nebraska Christian College. It was there he was active and served in a variety of capacities. But there was a feeling he needed more. “I’m not a book smart guy. So, if a church was going to hire me based on my grades alone, I knew I had no chance. The truth about ministry (especially worship ministry) is it’s more than just knowing how to do it. Sitting in a classroom is great, but what good would that have done me if I just took that knowledge and sat in my dorm on a Sunday morning?” So his sophomore year he applied for residency programs. But when his only offer was a $100 a week middle school worship position at Calvary Christian Church, he wasn’t exactly thrilled. Little did he know this is exactly where he needed to be.
For David, residency brought together two very important (and equal) realms of ministry, as he puts it, “book smarts and street smarts.” The staff at Calvary were critical to showing him what long-term health in ministry looked like. They taught him to organize his schedule more efficiently, better communicate with his spouse, and so much more. “The residency and ministry training taught me that it is okay to live in the struggle. I messed up plenty times and fell victim to hard times, but I had to keep getting back up. I loved that It was a safe time to mess up. Because it was there I found myself helping others and being helped by others. It removed a lot of stress for me knowing I could just learn without the judgement of messing up.”
When David began the residency, he thought things like the job title, pay, and prestige of the position were important. But throughout the program he realized that his residency was about improving his skills. He began to understand that there’s a significance in making the team around you better—and that could only be taught, cultivate, and mastered through consistent experience and mentorship. His worship leading improved when he learned to resource and guide those around him.
Fast forward to senior year and David not only had the opportunity to stay where he was serving but also had many other ministries pursuing him. “Honestly, I remember reading the paper about how college grads can’t get jobs in their chosen field, but that wasn’t my experience. In fact, senior year was daunting because of the many options I had!” But when Willow Creek North Shore Campus was looking for a worship leader in their student ministries and David’s name came up, it wasn’t long before David and his wife knew they found their place. The experience he gained from his residency, alongside his classroom training, made him a candidate they couldn’t refuse. Now David is pouring into hundreds of students and future worship leaders—just like his pastors did for him so many years ago.
This is what David has to say to pastors about residency programs: “A residency program is the proactive chance to fix or improve the dilemma of the church leadership drought. I truly believe that residency is a large-scale, modern-day model of discipleship. Jesus knew he wasn't going to be around forever so he equipped others to lead like him. We need to do the exact same thing. For me, I know that I won’t be here forever and the last thing I would want is for the ministry I am leading to just stop. I want to see other people learning how to lead well… and that happens through residency.”
Leadership Pathway (Lp) curates a network of churches, leaders, and training pathways in order to generate a pipeline of world-class church leaders who are highly desired and hirable. For more information on Lp go to http://leadershippathway.org/.