What makes a replanting residency a success? Obviously, if your church is going to bring on a resident, you want it to be beneficial and helpful not only for the resident, but for his family, and for your entire congregation. To help everyone get the most out of this residency experience at your church, consider these words of counsel:
1. Give your resident freedom to try and fail.
If you want your resident to grow and mature as a pastor and leader, he needs plenty of opportunity to try and fail. In other words, create a culture where he can attempt new programs or implement a few new initiatives in your church. If they succeed, great! If they fail, extend grace. This is a learning experience. People come alive when they are allowed to dream without the fear of getting in trouble by leaders in the church. Before your resident goes out on his own to lead a Replant, let your church be soft ground for him to learn, grow, and fail, knowing your congregation is behind him 110%.
2. Saturate your resident and his family with love and encouragement.
In Mark 12, Jesus tells us what the most important thing in the world is: Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. Love is to be the defining mark not only of our lives, but the defining mark of leadership development in our churches. This means we need to love and encourage our residents like crazy during this training process. Encouragement is so important. If you want to keep people fired up, encourage them! If you want your resident and his wife to be excited and energized in their time with your congregation, put a high priority on loving and encouraging them!
In Hebrews 3:13 we read, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” I believe the strongest form of motivation for many pastors and leaders in the church is loving encouragement. Encouragement is love spoken. It’s that simple: love spoken. Your resident and his wife need a lot of it. Saturate them with love and encouragement.
3. Give personal, specific, grace-filled, continual feedback.
Feedback is essential to one’s growth in any area of life. It is especially important when raising up and developing pastors in the local church. Feedback is critical. But what kind of feedback is most helpful? There are four components to feedback that is both sharpening and encouraging to a resident. Feedback should be personal, specific, grace-filled, and continual.
Personal: This means it is “in person.” It is one-on-one and face-to-face. They can see you and hear you. The best feedback happens in relationship.
Specific: When you’re giving feedback, don’t be vague. Be clear and use specific examples. The best encouragement and the best critique is always detailed enough to be helpful while general feedback is typically unhelpful. For example, don’t just say, “You did a great job preaching that sermon this morning!” Instead say something like, “I loved the way you applied your sermon to our lives this morning. The challenge you gave us to intentionally share a word of encouragement with each of our children before we put them to bed each night was so helpful. I am excited to put that into practice!” Be specific in your feedback.
Grace-filled: Intentional words of love and encouragement are what is going to earn you the right to have hard conversations with your resident. Grace-filled feedback creates a sense of safety and genuine care for them. Because you need to be specific, tempering that feedback with grace will protect the relationship with your resident.
Continual: Don’t be the church that only gives intentional encouragement or has the hard conversations with a resident at the year-end review. Do it continually. Give thoughtful feedback on a regular basis in the context of your on-going relationship. This is how your church will help your resident grow the most.
Your church can do this!
Raising up replanters in the local church is needed and necessary and the time is now. Churches just like yours are beginning to join in this movement of replanting dying churches for the glory of God. Will you join them? My hope and prayer is that you and your church will join this movement of God! With more churches closing each week than at any other time in the history of the United States, the time for talking is over and the body of Christ must move to action. There is an urgency in this movement. At the same time, there is great hope and great joy! God is on the move and He is not done with dying churches. While your church has not been called to do everything to turn the tide of declining churches in our cities and communities, you have been invited by the Lord to do something. I pray that something might be the raising up and sending out of a replanter from your congregation. Your church can do this!
I pray you and your church will trust our Sovereign God, take a leap of faith, and invest in the preparation of a replanter for a season. Your church will be blessed, the Lord will be honored, and a church that is currently nearing its death may see a day of revitalization and transformation they can only dream of at this very moment… All because you chose to raise up a replanter.