As a pastor of a medium-sized church with a heart for church planting, we’re always looking for resources to help identify and prepare church planters. One great tool is that of a church based residency for aspiring church planters. This program can be used for discipleship and leadership development training which can result in more prospective church planters. One of my favorite resources is Multiply Vineyard’s Church-Based Residency.
Their church based residency is a free year-long program for local Vineyard Churches, formatted in four 10-week quarters. Each quarter includes required readings, webinar recordings, and in-person or online group sessions with time for in-depth discussion and prayer ministry led by a local pastor or leader.
Every church based residency encounter begins with a course on “Formation of the Inner Life” which focuses on soul care. After laying this vital foundation, we move to “Discovering Vision and Values,” where we take a deep look into the history, purpose, and vision of the church along with the development of the Vineyard Movement. Then we cover “Reaching, Connecting, and Building People,” a practical look at evangelism and discipleship with an emphasis on the kingdom of God. Residency concludes with “The Practical Concerns of Doing Church” which includes topics like preaching, church systems, strategic planning, small groups, pastoral care, and finance.
Over the last six years, our church, Vineyard Church of Augusta, has offered Residency four times. Participants have included church members who want to grow as leaders in our local church, current leaders who are interested in working on a church staff, seminary graduates who are new to the Vineyard, and prospective church planters.
Our last church based residency cohort even included someone currently pastoring a mainline denominational church who is interested in planting a Vineyard. In all of these scenarios, the residency has proven to be highly effective and fruitful.
From our 25+ church based residency participants over the last six years, one person has become a full-time youth pastor for a Vineyard church, another is planting a Vineyard church in Indiana, and a couple has launched a campus for our church in a small town 45 minutes south of us. Several others have become high-capacity leaders in our local church while another person is exploring and praying about planting a Vineyard in a nearby town.
Residency is a significant commitment of time and energy for a local pastor. As our staff plans our calendar for each year, we prayerfully consider if and when to offer residency and specifically who to invite.
Although each residency group has been very different, each session has been well worth my personal investment and has been life-giving to me. Not only do I get to really know each participant on a deeper level, I also get to pray for each person while modeling prayer ministry for the group. It’s also a great opportunity for each participant to get to know me and to regularly pray for me as well.
This is an excellent resource to use in your local church or with several churches in close proximity to join together to lead a residency cohort.