A Dozen Questions with Mel Householder
Lp will soon have two new residents moving into Longmont, Colorado to begin the journey at LifeBridge Church. We wanted to get perspective on what this will be like from Worship Arts Associate, Mel Householder. Mel spent two years in residency and is now full time on staff.
Here are her answers to a dozen questions in her own words...no edits.
What is your current status? (job title, church)
Creative Arts Associate at Lifebridge Christian Church
What was your background in volunteer and leadership before residency?
Before my residency, I was heavily involved as a volunteer leader at many different churches, including my home church, Cornerstone Christian Church, and a local church in my college town, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church. Mostly, I was engaged with creative arts and worship leadership in the youth departments.
Why did you choose ministry?
I chose ministry primarily because I felt God had placed a passion and calling in me towards showing people Jesus and God’s grace and love through music and creativity. There is no better place for me to use the gifts he gave than in the local church helping people engage together in praise.
What were your expectations beginning residency?
My biggest expectation was that through a residency I would be so immersed in a ministry staff, that I would learn so much more than through a short-term internship. I had found in previous situations that I craved direct coaching and teaching from someone who had been doing ministry much longer than me, and I hoped through a residency I would gain that coaching in a much more intentional way.
Was it (or is it still) difficult? What’s been the most difficult thing – or perhaps can you relay a story of a time that your residency was difficult?
Sometimes the refining that happens during a residency isn’t just work-oriented. I found in my time at LifeBridge that God was refining everything about me to be more prepared to lead. One of the most difficult times of my residency was when I was pulled from direct leadership in order to work on some spiritual and personal downfalls. I experienced a huge amount of grace from my co-workers as they pushed me to make sure my relationship with God was my top priority so that instead of leading from a place of emptiness and my own strength I could lead out of the outpouring of His strength. It was humbling, it was difficult, and it was life-changing. Ultimately, it made me a stronger leader now because of that time.
What did you love/ dislike?
Gaining one-on-one coaching from multiple people on the creative arts staff is the thing I’ve loved the most from my residency. To be in a place where every moment was a moment to learn from and to have the freedom to make mistakes is incredible.
This has been humbling, and I have had to recognize that I’m not hot stuff and I had to learn to be patient with what I was given. I may dislike it, but I know I am so much better off because of it.
Since a lot of college students are still doing just a summer or a semester-long internship, we are wondering if you could speak to the benefits of staying as long as you did? What was the payoff?
When my residency started, it took around 3-6 months for me to really feel comfortable and to get my head wrapped around LifeBridge as a whole and my team. Until I felt comfortable to make mistakes and try things, I didn’t really move outside my comfort zones. If my residency had been a short-term internship, I may have learned a little bit, but not experienced it firsthand to learn from my own failures and successes. Because I stayed so long, I built relationships with my coworkers and people of LifeBridge, and overtime was offered a job working in the creative arts department. If I had stayed a shorter amount of time, that would have never happened, and I would be struggling to find a job.
What do you think your impact long term? Are you equipped?
My hope would be that my long-term impact would be that as I continue to develop and grow in my own leadership abilities, I would be able to also equip other young leaders to be ready for ministry and to live out a life of joy serving God’s bride. I desire to lead a church’s creative department as their worship leader and to guide a church into a more active worship lifestyle.
I believe I am being equipped for that job. I am nowhere near ready for that leadership yet, but I am in the right place to continue to train and work towards being ready for that kind of responsibility.
How are you living out your calling?
I am living out my calling through the creativity I help our team express, and the praise leading I get the opportunity to do from stage. By using the gifts God has given me, I support our team and help people meet Jesus through creative and musical worship.
If you had several senior pastors sitting at a table with you what would you say to them about your experience & if they should do this?
My experience as a resident of LifeBridge has grown my abilities as a leader tenfold. I would have never felt prepared to be a worship leader or part of a large church staff if I hadn’t been at LifeBridge as a resident for 2 years. If we want the Church to continue to grow and live on past ourselves, helping young leaders reach the point of confident leadership based on solid biblical foundation more quickly will be key. A residency program is an incredible tool in helping shape young leaders for that future, but we need more pastors and churches who are willing to put the time, energy, and effort into it so this will be possible.
What was important when you began vs. what’s important now
When I began, the most important thing I felt was to figure out what God was wanting me to do. I was uncertain and anxious about my purpose and calling and identity and mostly focused on myself. Now, after gaining confidence and strength in God’s plan for me, I want to focus more on those around me, and help others find their strength in God as well.
What would you say to 20-year-old you?
I would say stop sweating the small stuff and stop caring so much about what those above me are thinking about me. My purpose is to serve God and his people, not out of fear of rejection or disappointing others, but out of the overflow of my love for God and desire to serve him and his church more and more.
What would you say to a student in high school or college about preparing for ministry?
I have learned and had to struggle with recognizing that before I prepare for ministry specifically, I need to have my own heart and mind and personal walk with God strengthened and solid. That way, what I do in ministry comes as an outflow of God’s strength in me, instead of my own. By doing this, I’m more capable to give my all to others, because it isn’t me emptying myself, it’s me letting God flow through me. This is the only way to be ready for long-term ministry without major burn-out.