I recently sat down with Andy Dykhouse for yet another cup off coffee in Omaha to pick his brain on what makes residency work well at some churches. Andy coaches youth pastors, is on the leadership team of the Youth Leader Network in Omaha, and oversees the residency program at Nebraska Christian College.

Here is the first half of our conversation:

Me: You and I have both seen churches begin residency programs in the last couple of years. Some do well, and some struggle. What do you think are two or three core elements a church must commit to doing in order to do residency well?

Andy: Residency is a hot topic. Churches are seeing this need to own the conversation in terms of leadership development. This is a good thing.

I tell churches often, though, that if they don’t have some simple things in place, they will struggle in developing an effective residency program. 

First, your lead pastor must champion residency in order for a residency program to be well worth the time, energy, and resources. This may be an obvious statement, but reality is that a resident is going to cost more than the cash he is paid. There will be times, too, when a staff member is moving more slowly on a project or an action item, because he or she is in a coaching moment with a resident. A lead pastor (or an executive pastor, if one’s in place) has to be committed to this.  They have to see that this is an investment in that student. Will the church get pay off? Maybe. Maybe not.

Me: What happens when this is not in place?

Andy: Well, if a church doesn’t begin with endorsement from senior leadership, getting to the next level is nearly impossible. It’s essential to move forward with the second core principle, which is you want more for them than from them.

Me: This isn’t just cheap labor.

Andy: Absolutely! When churches can’t afford a “real worship leader” but instead want to sign up for residency, I have to lovingly tell them that what they actually need is either a high capacity volunteer or a part-time employee.  There is a huge difference between a developmental process –- a residency. And an opportunity.

Thirdly, this one gets a little controversial at times for me, but your church must be healthy. A healthy church is one that has meaningful evangelism, discipleship, and good staff relationships all in place.

Me: Will residents see best practices at healthy churches?

Andy: Exactly. They have to begin some place in their ministry lives with a church that is doing this. We want to start them on the right footing. This leads to a better shot at longevity in ministry.  Where you start in ministry matters. 

Read the 2nd Half of this conversation here.