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next generation

Six Core Principles of Residency

Six Core Principles of Residency

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.

The Voice of God Sounded Like My Youth Pastor

I’ll never forget riding home from a weekend leadership event with my youth pastor. It was 1983 and I was bouncing along in the church van looking at the back of his head as the miles clicked off in the middle of the night thinking ”someday I want to be like that guy.” Little did I know that seminal moment as a goofy 13 year old would shape the trajectory of my life.

I don’t remember the theme, the games, if there was music, where we ate, or what we even did. But I remember every detail of the moment when he looked at me and said, “I see ministry in you.” Call it a calling, call it influence, call it what you want, but I never looked back after that comment from him. I stepped into whatever volunteer and leadership roles that I could at the local church. That moment would propel me into the next 3 decades til today.

My youth pastor intuitively knew what the people I’m around and I have come to live and breath just about every day: finding the next generation of church leadership is on us. Those of us in influential roles at the local church level have to identify the ones who have the potential to be the next generation of influencers. Carey Nieuwhof said it best recently on our campus that the Church needs more influential entrepreneurs and not just pastors. These traits begin early in life.

It is true that we must teach, train, educate, and coach new leaders in radically different ways for the future health of the church. We are tweaking it all, but we have to start with a different type of raw material to wind up with a different result.

What does an entrepreneurial influencer look like in 8th grade or 11th grade or as a 24 year-old? Those of us in leadership at the local church have to find these key moments to look them in the eye and say “I see ministry in you.”

 I guess I went all-in back in ’92 when I first sat in the balcony of the Lakeside Auditorium and heard Hybles say “the church is the hope of the world and nothing can transform communities like the church when it is lead well.”

I’m still all in.

My youth pastor didn’t take all one hundred of us on a leadership retreat. He tapped the short list. He looked beyond our awkwardness. I’m sure there were sure-bets that didn’t pan out, and long-shots that turned out awesome, but he was the mouth-piece of God into my life.

Thirty years later now, I always carry a name in my wallet of a student that I’m praying would answer the call. I get these names from current church leaders. They know best. We know who can recognize future ministry material. It’s youth pastors like the one I was blessed to grow up under, and it’s campus ministry, and next generation leaders.

“Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to the fields.” From my perspective of where I’m embedded in the Kingdom leadership pipeline, the fields have never been whiter.