Discovery Christian Church in Broomfield, Colorado (Denver) is several years into building a residency program. Recently, we *sat down with the Lead Pastor of Discovery, Steve Cuss, to talk about the unique view a senior pastor brings to such an endeavor. Discovery averages about 1,000 people on a typical week and is about fourteen-years-old.
I am a big believer in the next generation. I don’t buy into the negativity that often surrounds millennials in the workplace. Those negative voices aren’t talking the same students that I’m talking to. These young leaders are the not only capable, but they have passion and purpose, and want to see the church impact communities, reach their peers, and change the world.
Leadership Pathway (Lp) matches potential ministry residents with churches that have committed to being a teaching church. We then coach the staff at the church in the best practices of equipping the resident for two years in 24Core Competencies in our coaching manual we’ve called a Guidebook.
Self-Awareness is key when taking your first step in ministry. As you begin to interview for that first residency or full time, role, you'll find that church leaders speak in a variety of "self-awareness languages" - here are three or four.:
Take this opportunity to learn about you in the following ways:
A Christian College senior sat down in my office in February of his last year of undergrad studies in ministry and was perplexed. Like most of the good ones, he’d spent the better part of the last two years on a developmental path of part-time ministry under the guidance of a great youth pastor.
“I don’t know which of these opportunities I should pursue,” he said.
A few years ago I spoke with a young man on the phone. He was trying to figure out his future and what his next step should be in ministry. I listened to his story and experiences and knew that if he would just stick with it eventually he’d get picked up. The thing I kept reminding him was that great churches are always looking for great people. It came true in the Spring of 2016. This young man was hired at Central Christian Church in the Phoenix area.
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.
Growing up in one of the largest churches in America has its advantages. Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY is a great place, and an even better place to be when God gets hold of your heart for the things of Him.
This is where Dakota Draper was all through high school. “I gotta admit, I have been given a gift,” says Dakota, “how many people get to see hundreds, maybe thousands, of students give their life to Jesus and follow Him?” But that’s exactly what it was like at Southeast.
Whether you are interviewing for a residency, or for your first vocational ministry role there are critical questions that you will be asked. We hear a some over and over.
After the character/walk with Christ questions, there are a few that seem to make the top of the list. If you are thinking about taking your next step in ministry in 2018, ask yourself these. What are your answers? Does your resume, the stories you tell, and your current supervisor see your track record similarly? More importantly than this, are your daily actions creating the types of stories that you'll be able to tell soon?
“For the better part of the past decade, it seems like every church I’m in I get asked who do you know that would want to join our team?” begins Matt McKay, Founder of House Right Productions (HR). “Rather than ignore it or be complicit to the problem, I’ve been considering for some time how we at House Right might help even if only in a small way.”
Meet Andrew Oceans Reed, Communications Resident at Cornerstone Church in Litchfield, MN. Andrew has only been in his new residency program at Cornerstone for just over a month but has already gained a plethora of experience in his new communication-specific ministry role. “I think this residency has been completely crucial to my long-term ministry,” says Andrew. “I am getting the exact work experience I need and I am learning and growing in ways that will prepare me for years to come.”
Knowing who you are beyond the surface, AND understanding the implications of it in your work history will save you the same frustration at your next place of employment. God has uniquely wired, crafted, and gifted you to be of use in His world. This is His story that we are characters in. Understanding your perspective and part will help you take the next best steps.
Kelsey grew up in church and all throughout high school knew she was called to go to a Christian college. And although she felt a calling, she didn’t fully understand what it meant to do ministry nor did she have an certain area or direction she felt passionate about. It wasn’t long into her time at school that God began to grow a passion in her heart for kids in the church. “I knew that the time I spent with the kids could be the only time they experienced Jesus in their entire lives. So I decided I would do everything I could to make that experience a wonderful experience, and one that will impact and grow their faith so that they can feel Jesus’ love just like I have.”
I was recently asked to come present to one of my favorite church staffs in the city where I live. I could talk on any topic, and I had 30 minutes to share. The church has a multi-layered staff with many in their first ministry, including several who are also in their first management/leadership role.
Hmmm…what should I have heard if I had been listening when I was first beginning on a church staff?
Often times when we think of ministry training and residency programs, we think of the future executive pastor, the future worship leader, or the future children’s ministry director. But here’s the great thing about God’s Kingdom and the breadth that residency programs can offer—it’s inclusive of all talents, skillsets, and giftings. Here’s the story of Lexi Wegner, Communications Director at Reality Church in LaVista, Nebraksa and how her residency opportunity was a pivotal moment for her life and ministry calling.
This is acutely a problem in the first years of ministry. New church leaders who are just beginning need a coach more than ever. I define a ‘coach’ to our graduates as someone who is five years ahead of them in a ministry that appears to be something of which they would want to be a part. One hour a month on a Skype, or a call, the newbie brings the questions and the coach is there to…well…coach.
When I began in ministry there was this thing that churches did called, “summer internships.” I started in ministry the year Bill Clinton began his first term. Many of you reading this are too young to remember Bill Clinton as President, and yet, churches are still doing summer internships.
Ways in which summer internships work:
- Cheap (yet questionable) labor - Keeps the college student out of his parents’ basement
About five years ago I did a series of roundtable lunches with senior leaders of churches. I asked them two questions:
What are you looking for in your next hire? Why did you, or your executive pastor, have to fire someone on your staff?
After speaking with about 80 leaders across denominations, and from churches of all sizes we landed at about 150 general answers. I took this spreadsheet and had it printed at Fed Ex Kinkos (it was quite large) and hung one copy on a co-worker’s wall, and hung one copy on my office wall.
Over the last eleven years I’ve been in a church leadership conversation that sounds something like, “We’re looking for someone who is probably 29 – 32 years of age, and has built a ministry and ready to take their next step. Know anyone like that?”
No matter the role in a church, this seems to be the center of the target when it comes to looking outside for the next team member. When churches have depleted their internal pipelines, and connections, it’s time to go out and hunt.
The title for this post could be “You Should Start a Residency Program at Your Church Even if You Aren’t Ready” because I know some great churches who keep putting off pulling the trigger.
I blogged here before about the importance of residency, and why churches should move beyond short internships. Recently, I’ve had a few conversations with church leaders that I know would be great providing oversight to a resident leader, but they simply couldn’t get approval from their executive teams. “We’re not quite ready,” is the typical response.