Why should we start a replanting residency in our church?
We need them. Big time.
Strong, humble, visionary yet convictional leaders can be tough to find in the church these days. Yet the need for these types of leaders is greater than ever. This is particularly true when it comes to helping replant and revitalize dying churches. As we watch record numbers of congregations closing their doors each and every week all across our country, we are constantly reminded of the leadership crisis in which we find ourselves. We need pastors who can lead healthy change in a declining church with passionate vision and a shepherd’s heart. The question is: Where do we find them?
Ministry leadership coach, Brian Howard, writes,
“Are you hoping that ready-made leaders will show up to help you lead the church? Are you trusting seminaries or other churches to raise up leaders for your church? If so, you will likely be waiting a long time. There are simply not enough ready-made leaders to do what we need to do in ministry.”
Howard is right. Every church has a responsibility to strategically identify, develop and deploy leaders of various kinds in numerous areas of ministry. This is especially true when it comes to the development of church replanters. Local churches must take seriously their call and responsibility to identify, equip and send replanters out to lead and shepherd dying churches.
Of course, the question is, what does this look like practically? How can churches, particularly normative sized churches (120 or less), be directly involved in the development of pastors and church leaders? For our purposes, what does it look like for a local church to prepare and equip a replanter for the ministry of church revitalization? I believe one answer to these questions is through the development of a replanting residency in your congregation.
What is a Replanting residency?
When many people hear the word “residency,” they immediately think of terms like “residency program” or “resident,” often associated with the medical community. Those individuals serving as medical residents are often already on a trajectory toward becoming doctors, nurses or other types of health care providers. However, they spend their “residency” learning from and shadowing more experienced doctors and nurses while practicing medicine in an environment where they can experience honest feedback, mentoring and learning. In a similar way, a replanting residency helps to create an environment where potential church replanters are able to learn from more seasoned pastors and leaders, get needed ministry experience in the context of a local church and they get do it all in a safe and secure environment designed to help them grow as ministers of the gospel.
Now you might be wondering why your church should consider starting a replanting residency program. Perhaps you can understand the need for churches to create residencies that help equip future church replanters, but why should your church be one of these? Why should your congregation begin a replanting residency program? That’s a great question. Let me give you some reasons to consider.
5 Reasons why your church should start a Replanting residency.
1. It’s biblical.
To be a biblical church is to be a developer of leaders. We must seek to be congregations that intentionally raise up pastors and deploy them into the harvest. A replanting residency can help your church do this.
2. Any size church can do it.
I have run into pastors and church members who think only large churches can do something like this. I would say, often times the best replanting residencies happen in normative size churches. These congregations are where a replanter can get an incredible amount of experience doing a variety of things, working with a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages on a personal, relational level.
3. Your church needs to be stretched.
Many of our churches are stuck in our comfort zones and predictable routines. A big reason for this, in my opinion, is that our churches are not intentionally seeking to develop leaders. A replanting residency forces your people to catch a vision for leadership development and to play a role in the purposeful equipping of a future replanting pastor.
4. The need for church replanting and revitalization is massive.
Perhaps this point is obvious, but it needs to be stated again. With large numbers of churches throughout our country closing their doors for the final time each and every week, there has never been a need for trained replanters more than there is today. To help your congregation get into the game of replanting, creating a replanting residency is a great place to start.
5. We care about reaching those far from God.
Every one of our communities is filled with people who are far from God. They do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The question is: who is going to proclaim this gospel to them if not Christians in local churches within our communities? Yes, we must plant new churches. But we must also replant dying churches. Countless neighborhoods in cities and towns all over our country will be most effectively reached through revitalized churches in that community… churches that have been declining for years… churches that have become ineffective in bringing health and transformation to the community. If we care about reaching the lost, we will care about replanting churches. And if we care about replanting churches, we will care about equipping replanting pastors who will lead those churches to reach the lost, the hurting, and the broken that surround them.