Under the Hood of Perimeter Church Residency Program

Leadership Pathway (Lp) is thrilled to partner with Perimeter Church of Atlanta. We are searching for their next worship resident. You can read more about that opportunity here. We thought we’d pick the brain of Leah Sowell, the Director of the Residency program and learn all we could about their journey doing residency at Perimeter.

Lp:       Tell us about your journey in leadership at Perimeter.

Leah:   I began in High School ministry and later worked as an office manager at Perimeter School. I began working with the residency development team in 2014. Our first class started in August of 2015.

Lp:       Tell us a bit about where your residents have come from and where they are today.

Leah:   Well, we’ve had about 30 or so come through the program. Of that number about a quarter are from the Atlanta area or from internally here at Perimeter.  The majority who have finished the 2nd year, are employed at churches, one went on to Seminary, and we have a couple over in Greece working with the refugee crisis there.

Lp:       That’s a great track record! If you boiled it down to one thing, what do you think the secret sauce of Perimeter Residency is?

Leah:   Well, I think I could say there are two things.  First, we are an equipping church. From the top down in our DNA is this idea of raising up volunteers into leadership and setting them free. This would be impossible without that vision. 

Secondly, I’d say the two-year approach. I just think most residents are deer-in-the-headlights for three or four months. It takes a while for them to come up to speed just in the working environment. So, if it’s four months just to get comfortable, and another half-year of proving oneself in a ministry setting, then the 2nd year is where the great stuff happens. This is where they really begin to shine. In worship, for example, the residents are running one of the venues by the 2nd year. That’s a lot of trust and that won’t happen in the first year.

OK…let me add a 3rd thing – our staff! Our leaders who are taking these residents are amazing! They are committed to it.

Lp:       But without the top down DNA, they probably wouldn’t view that as part of their job.

Leah:   Absolutely.

Lp:       Two-year stay is something we talk about every day. “Two years” sounds like forever when you’re 20 or 24.

Leah:   I know! But we can’t get there in the first year. At the 18-month mark they are beginning the transition of resumes, interviews, getting connected to Slingshot, or wherever for their role. Once we’re at that point it’s like wow that was fast!

Lp:       How do you fund the program?

Leah:   It comes from our ‘All In’ giving campaign which is over and above regular giving. Our church is committed financially as well as in our DNA.

Lp:       What are you up against?

Leah:   Well, the recruiting piece for one. It’s just tough for our staff to do all that’s required of them and set aside the time for all of the talking that it takes to ensure a great team fit.

Lp:       What’s your advice to another church considering this?

Leah:   Build community! If your residents are coming out of undergrad, they are exiting probably the most intensive time of community they’ll ever experience. You have to back fill some this.

You can read more about Perimeter’s residency program here and their church here.

Check out the opportunity through Leadership Pathway at Perimeter here.  And please forward it along if you know of someone looking for a great worship team to begin their pursuit of the Leadership Pathway.

Stories, residencyDave Miller