Residencies and Internships: Brainstorming Toward Reproducing the Next Generation of Leaders

I see this sign everywhere I go and so do you!

Every now and then I tease my wife and say, “I suppose each of us could go get a couple part-time jobs and help the economy out a little bit more!” To which she replies, “Let’s just keep the one’s we have and not make the problem any worse.”

While I have yet to see a literal “help wanted” sign on a church building door, there might as well be. I speak to leaders each week who say they are looking for a pastor, youth leader, music minister, next generation pastor, or discipleship pastor. Churches need more ministers, leaders, counselors, and staff. The market is not flooded with leaders!

As I dialogue with local pastors and leaders, I often hear the same questions; “Why aren’t our Bible colleges and seminaries sending out more leaders? Why do our young men and women go off to school and never come back?” I have a few theories, but the ones that rise to the top answer the above questions.

  1. Our colleges and seminaries ARE sending out those we send them. The schools serve the church, not the other way around. To answer this question, I ask another one: What is your church doing to encourage, call out, and physically/spiritually/theologically train the next generation? Does your church encourage local, contextual training coupled with the theological education that a Bible college or seminary can offer? You can easily utilize free (or free with convention partnerships as found at CCBBC) training found at CCBBC, MBTS, and SEBTS as a few examples. Have you thought about starting a cohort, internship, or residency?
  2. Often our future ministers go off to our schools and do not come back because they didn’t see the need (or were not told about the opportunities to serve at home) to return to their context to minister. Does our next generation feel wanted, valued, and see the need to serve within their own context? It’s interesting that we can see missions and ministry opportunities across the state, in the large city, or on one of the coasts, but often have a hard time seeing them at home. I’ve done this, and probably you have too!

Below are some examples of churches/networks who are currently discipling the next generation of leaders through internships and/or residencies. I’ve included several examples for different areas of ministry, styles of church, and methods of funding and philosophy of training leaders. Please remember that not all of these examples are of “your tribe” and I have not vetted each of their theological stances. They are simply examples for you to learn from and to gain principles for developing a leadership pipeline using an internship/residency model.

I’ll highlight each of the interesting things I learned from each in the bullet points below. If you’d like to share your experience, please let me know! Also, if you’d like to brainstorm about starting either or both at your church, reach out to me and I’d be glad to talk to you. It’s my conviction that each church can be a training and sending church for gospel ministers. We need more proclaiming the Good News of the gospel and our churches can train and send them!

  • Southland Church
    • Available Ministry Areas I really like their diversity! This is evidence that they have thought through their process and see a need to train many in varying areas.
      • Worship and production ministry
      • Children’s ministry and student ministries
      • Groups and guest experience ministries
      • Creative video and communications
      • Biblically based justice ministry
      • Multi-site strategy and campus pasturing
      • Church planting
  • Southeast Christian Church
  • Family Church Network
  • Immanuel Baptist Church
    • IBC Residency Program Here is an example in my state. IBCLex is a large church who sees the need to train the next generation to serve within their own church and others.
      • College ministry resident
      • Worship ministry resident
      • Student ministry resident
      • Communications resident
  • Redeemer Church Network
    • Church Planting Residency I love their philosophy of partnering with those who have experience and are currently planting.
      • Residents are placed with planters who are 3+ years ahead
      • They are taught to plant churches who plant churches
      • Two-year process with 3 phases
  • Crossway Network
    • Interesting ways to fund a resident: Awesome funding structure! Inventive and helpful.
      • 1/3 from the local church
      • 1/3 from Crossway Network (max $2k a month)
      • 1/3 from fundraising/bivo-covo work
  • Pinelake-Learn+Live+Lead
    • Using NAMB’s SEND materials, the resident is fully immersed into the pre-launch stages of vision refinement, leadership competencies, core group development, funding strategies, and systems creation.
    • Here is a partial list of responsibilities. Here’s an example of learning and doing. NAMB’s SEND material is great for planters!
      • Live in humble submission to Christ, learning from the Word and from others.
      • Develop a working understanding of ecclesiology, missiology, and theology in regard to the church plant.
      • Development of a prayer support ministry for the new church plant.
      • Research, define, and develop a comprehensive launch plan for the new church plant.
      • Actively recruit, enlist, and equip core launch team.
      • Develop and execute a strategy for donor support.
      • Visit other church plants to assess, learn, and strengthen personal leadership.
      • Involvement in selected activities with the Pinelake Missions Team.
      • Other responsibilities as assigned.
  • Veritas Church
    • Focuses on recently graduated college students. Are you a student who is not sure what to do after graduation? Serve at your church as a resident!
  • Perimeter Church
    • Interesting 10-week summer internship w/ job descriptions. Super helpful to use as a template.
  • Grace Church KS
    • Cool training philosophy idea and graphic
      • 70% of learning is doing the work
      • 20% of learning is being coached by supervisors
      • 10% of learning is formal training
    • Cool pics of students near the Union Station in KCMO. 😊
  • Calvary Church CO
    • They have a residency program for replanting and revitalization as well as church planting
    • They also have two cohort tracks. They are worship ministry and missions.
  • Parkview Christian Church
    • They feature a model for funding residence that includes a stipend of $650 per month in the first year and $750 per month in the second year. They also award scholarships to residents who carry student loan debt up to $3500.
  • Living Hope Baptist Church Bowling Green KY
    • LH has two tracks; church ministry and vocational training.
      • LH has a great idea in creating a cohort for those who are in a vocation, but desire more training to be more equipped to reach people in their work context.
  • Christ Fellowship Bowling Green KY
  • Riverwoods Baptist Church Benton KY
    • Riverwoods has a campus model and seeks apprentices and interns to learn at their Benton, Murray, and Morris Valley KY locations.
    • They are currently working to build a church planting residency program that both serves their model and will help provide biblically sound church planters in the Western KY area.
  • Jennings Creek Community Church Bowling Green KY
    • JCCC is a church plant that begun in 2022.
    • Pastor Derek has a vision to reach the Jennings Creek community with the gospel and to train biblically qualified believers to serve within their spiritual giftings.
    • JCCC is utilizing a summer intern program, primarily among college-aged adults exposing them to evangelism, disciplemaking, and leadership.
    • He hopes to expand to include a pastoral/church planting residency in 2023-24.
  • Converge Church Planting Residency
  • Redemption Church Residency
  • The Village Church and Acts29
  • City Church Fort Worth TX
  • Lebanon Baptist Church Bloomsdale MO

Here are some more resources/ideas you might think about with your team:

  • Begin praying with your leadership about starting an internship or residency. Use some the examples above to show the benefits of raising up our own leaders. Take some time to search scripture and learn about biblical residencies (Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Timothy, Paul and Titus, Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark…). Ask the Lord to reveal your strengths, weaknesses, and to show you where your church can make an impact with this ministry.
  • “How to Start a Residency”
  • Use the internship/residency with undergraduate and graduate students: pay their tuition (partial or full) and set up a customized track or cohort.
  • sort of a residency clearing house.
  • Begin with a summer internship and work toward developing a strategy for a residency. Your local association/network may have some resources/examples to help you. State and national agencies may be able to offer examples, stipends, and other tools as well.
  • Set up a budget line item focused solely on internships/residencies. Develop a plan, set a yearly budget, and ask members to give to this ministry. Celebrate wins, promote those who are personally benefiting from the program, and make sure there are tracks for men and women.
  • Work with a small group of local churches/pastors to start a cohort of learners in your community. Share the workload!
  • When the internship/residency has been completed for the year, do some evaluations. Sit down with your leadership and reflect upon what you have learned, what you would like to do better, and what you would never do again. Create an exit survey for the interns/residents. Getting their feedback will help future generations have a great experience.
  • Get a short list of churches/leaders in your area or state who are currently using a residency as part of their discipleship ministry. Ask questions that lend to you learning about transferable principles, land mines to avoid, and other tips that will help make your first year or semester a success.
  • Tools from NAMB to help others discern their calling/aspiration to ministry.

Here is an audio version of this article. 17 minutes.

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