7 Crucial Components Of A Church Residency Program
By: Vanderbloemen September 20, 2017
Many churches now offer internship opportunities or residency programs to help develop future ministry leaders. These programs can range in focus from high school students to young adults to even more advanced adults for church-planting or missions-related programs.
Church residency programs are a fantastic opportunity for those who are thinking about going into ministry, starting their first job in ministry, traveling overseas, or planting a church. However, certain programs can make or break a person’s decision to continue to pursue ministry down the road.
A well-managed residency program has the opportunity to build up the next generation of leaders for your church. If your church is considering a residency program or interested in changing your current model, take note of these 7 essential components.
1. Have a point person
New environments can be overwhelming, regardless of the role. To successfully develop new leaders in the church, you will first need someone who can guide them and give instruction when necessary.
Providing a point person to each residency member brings a level of comfort and a person to trust and receive feedback from.
2. Establish content and goals
It is incredibly important to clearly communicate the role and ultimate goals of the residency program to all involved. For a resident, there is nothing more emotionally, mentally, and physically draining than working towards a poorly-communicated mission.
Each person should be given a clear description of their responsibilities for the span of the residency. Give examples of both everyday tasks and overarching projects that will need to be completed in that time. This clear communication will reap large benefits toward the overall success of the residency program.
3. Give responsibility
Residency members will be able to explore, learn, and even fail under the umbrella of responsibility that you give them. There will be more growth as a result of not feeling held back by a stifling leadership team. This being said, continue to use discernment with the responsibility that you cede to residency members. There is a middle ground that doesn’t involve throwing unprepared students into the dark of a new task.
4. Check-in frequently and give feedback
Frequent check-ins are crucial to a successful church residency program. Taking the time to review each member enables you to hear about their personal progress, give feedback, and provide constructive criticism when necessary. It helps the members to understand what they are and are not accomplishing, and what they are doing well at or what they could improve on.
5. Incorporate a group project
Group projects are great way for members to learn how to work together on a team. They also allow each person to use his or her unique skills, abilities and gifts. The teamwork that occurs will produce a collaborative environment for new ideas to build, grow, and thrive.
Assign the group project early on. It does not have to have an early deadline, but give the group time to collaborate and plan during the residency. This forces them to make quick decisions and learn how to compromise, while also providing more time to interact with each other.
6. Make the experience relatable
Creating a relatable experience means giving specific responsibilities based upon an individual’s interests. In a church setting, a relatable experience could be a huge opportunity for someone to learn and better understand the particular ministry he or she is interested in.
For example, if someone is interested in youth ministry, don’t assign them only behind-the-scenes work. Let them interact with the youth and possibly teach on occasion.
7. Survey when the program is complete
In order to make the experience better each year, it is important to receive honest feedback from the residency members. For example, you could create an anonymous survey that targets any weak spots in the program. Consider what improvements could be made based upon the responses from the survey.
It takes time to change and implement new strategies. Use the information to improve for the next group of residents. If you consider the feedback from previous years and make the needed changes, then each year the experience should continue to get better.
How has your church managed a residency program in the past?