This question gets to the nuts and bolts of what this residency is actually going to look like in your church. The replanting residency you will be creating should be designed to help replanting residents do three things:
- Equipping for effective replanting ministry
- Exploration of vocational calling
- Engagement in practical ministry and leadership
Ideally, the residency should be a nine- to twelve-month program. While you may decide your residency will be longer or shorter in length, nine to twelve months has proven in many churches to be a duration that is appropriate and doable for the replanter. Beginning the residency in September and ending in August of the following year is, in many cases, a great timeframe to consider. January through December can also be an effective timeline. Let’s consider the three main components of the residency in greater depth.
Equipping the replanter for future ministry is a key aspect to this residency. What exactly will this equipping look like? While your church may desire to include other elements, I would recommend your residency consist of three distinct learning environments: The Church Replanting Cohort, the Pastoral Cohort, and the Preaching Cohort.
The Church Replanting Cohort: This learning environment is where most of the teaching designed to equip the resident specifically for leading a church replant back to health will be accomplished. There should be a few different books read each semester as part of this cohort experience. Here's a recommended list of books to study.
The Pastoral Cohort: Once a month the replanting resident will meet with your pastor and other leaders in your church for the purpose of learning about and growing in pastoral shepherding ministry. This cohort takes place in a roundtable discussion format and will study a book of your choice each semester that focuses on pastoral shepherding ministry. This book will help facilitate conversation and in-depth discussion around matters pertaining to pastoral ministry such as: knowing, leading, feeding and protecting God’s people in the local church.
The Preaching Cohort: The preaching cohort is designed to help the replanting resident grow as a communicator of God’s Word. One of the key ingredients to healthy, biblical revitalization is strong preaching of the Word each and every week. God works powerfully through His Word in the hearts of his people. The Spirit uses the Word of God to bring dead churches back to life, just as He uses it to bring dead souls back to life for His glory. For this reason, it is crucial that your congregation help this resident grow as a preacher.
The Preaching Cohort will meet once a month for an hour to an hour and a half and will allow your resident to preach in a context where they will be given honest and helpful feedback from others. Along with the pastor, I would recommend inviting different leaders, as well as members of the congregation to come listen to the resident preach each month. Each observer will fill out a preaching evaluation sheet for giving critique in areas of strength and areas for growth.
Putting it all together: The Monthly cohort schedule
It is recommended that these three cohorts meet at the same time on the same day each week. For example, our church’s residency cohorts meet from 4-6:00 p.m. each Thursday afternoon at our church building. To get an idea of what the schedule for these cohorts looks like in a given month, here is a sample schedule for September:
- Week 1: Pastoral Cohort 1
- Week 2: Replant Cohort: Preparing for Revitalization Part 1
- Week 3: Preaching Cohort 1
- Week 4: Replant Cohort: Preparing for Revitalization Part 2
Along with equipping the replanting resident, a second important residency component is helping the resident explore his vocational calling to church replanting and revitalization. It is important to connect the resident with a mentor who can pour into his life regularly during his time at your church. This will be a key relationship for the resident and will serve as a safe person who can encourage him, pray for him, and process with him over the course of the residency. This individual may be the pastor, an elder or deacon, or another mature lay leader in the congregation.
Pairing the resident with a mentor or coach who they can share their joys, fears, hopes, and concerns with, will be of great benefit to their growth in life and pastoral ministry. Over the course of the year, this mentor or coach will help the resident honestly evaluate and explore their vocational calling to church replanting in a way that will hopefully bring greater conviction and clarity regarding God’s direction for their ministry future.
Lastly, each replanting resident will spend significant time serving in various roles of ministry leadership within your church. This will help them to gain needed experience in multiple areas, which will help prepare them for future pastoral leadership in a replanting context. As a result, your church should intentionally seek out ways the resident can be involved on some level with the following ministries of your church:
- Youth and Children’s Ministry
- Counseling and Pastoral Care
- Small Groups
- Worship Service Planning and Leadership
- Operations and Administration
- Local and Global Missions
- Assimilation and First Impressions
- Communications and Media
Providing opportunities for your resident to engage in these various ministry areas will not only be beneficial to the resident, but it will be beneficial to your congregation. For replanting residents who are married, be mindful and intentional about ways in which you can involve their wife in these areas of ministry as well, for her own ministry growth and development.