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Don’t let your leadership development plans get 2020’d in 2021.

There’s never been a better time to launch a residency program at your church. The Kingdom needs you to do this. For years, we’ve had a very short list of shining examples of residency programs in churches like 12 Stones in Atlanta, CCV in Phoenix, and a few other large churches who have been the early adopters.

We need thousands of churches with residents to meet the growing, complex demands of leadership development. 

We know the secret to leadership development–it’s YOU!

Here are four reasons why I believe it’s the perfect time to leap:

1. It’s a disruptive answer for a disruptive time

Higher education was on its heels, and seminaries were scrambling, prior to getting 2020’d. Young adults and their parents have been looking for affordable, sustainable, and trusted paths into leadership for the church of tomorrow that is suddenly the church of today. Our seminaries do really well at teaching what never changes, but we’ve known for a couple of decades that our model is outdated. This disruption and speed of change facing us today has only increased this.

Don’t launch accredited classes in your church facility. There’s no reason to do so. Education is available online, and the delivery continues to robustly improve. You aren’t a seminary, so don’t spend your focus and budget on this when you can share best what you know and do well–leading people and building ministry teams.

Do help the next generation navigate rigorous education and provide the fieldwork (in your church) needed for the right preparation for the future.

2. It puts young talent at your table

We’ve been writing about “reaching Millennials” for over a decade now. Guess who is naturally wired to help with many of the issues your church is currently facing? Who are the digital natives? Who has friends with all of the legitimate social concerns that are changing faster than we can respond to? Generation Z is now graduating from college, and they’re looking for a place to engage and make a difference.

Inviting them is a value-add of skills your team needs right now. Who understands content development and how to speak digital? The youngest among us, that’s who!

Don’t try to be younger than you are. You be you. The next generation needs your wisdom (and it might take them a moment to ask you for it, so remain patient).

Do open the meeting room to young twenty-somethings to help you understand their peers and what’s really going on. Adding some twenty-somethings to an aging staff will pump new energy (and some fun chaos) onto your team.

3. It enables you to hire from within someday

You can hire an expensive search firm to headhunt your next leader, or you can do a national search on your own, but make no mistake, BOTH are risky. After the deep dive of personality tests and reference checks, it still takes a leap of faith to bring an outsider onto your team.

Or, you can grow your own. “Hiring from within” works if you have an ecosystem to support it. Eventually, even that pond is fished out in a dynamic church. It takes the intentionality of residency to keep it replenished and serve the local church well.

Don’t rush (but do start!). Residency is a long answer to a problem with no shortcuts.

Do invest in a long-range plan (we typically talk about 5 years) of launching, learning, and growing a residency program that scales and is repeatable.

4. You can pay it forward

If you have served a decade or more in ministry, you certainly had someone(s) investing in you between ages 22 and 26. I know I did. It was NOT called residency, but it made all the difference in my first three years of full-time ministry.

Don’t expect every resident to succeed.

Do have high standards of who gets in and stick to those.

Years ago, I attended a conference where Dr. Gregory Ozark of Loyola University shared,  “There are great hospitals, and there are great teaching hospitals–just don’t confuse the two.” The medical industry has known for some time what it takes to succeed in the complexity of medicine. 

I would argue that the preparation of future church leaders is that much more important. The gap for well-trained, emotionally intelligent, digitally current young Jesus followers and leaders is pressing, now more than ever. Intentional residency can be the vehicle to move this forward for them and for your church.

To learn more about launching a residency, contact info@leadershippathway.org.

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Leadership Network

Author Leadership Network

Our role is to foster innovation movements that activate THE CHURCH to greater impact for the Glory of God’s name. What began in 1984 with 20 leaders now serves over 200,000 leaders all over the world. Find out more about Leadership Network and our Mission here.

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