Why the Church Residency?
God has a unique way of preparing each son or daughter for the work of ministry on this Earth. Each of us has been given a unique calling, and the necessary equipping, to carry out the mission of God collectively as His bride: the Church. Our “calling,” or vocation, varies, but the mission is the same — the glory of God through the bringing of many sons and daughters into that glory (Hebrews 2:10) in all spheres of our life. The church then is made up of all types of members, just as the body has many members but is still one body (Romans 12:4).
For some of us that means a life’s work within the leadership of the local church. For many centuries, the local church was the primary hub of both equipping and sending out of missionaries the world over to plant new churches in places that had not yet heard the good news of Jesus Christ. Beginning with the ancient church of the 1st and 2nd centuries, pastors at the local level were responsible for training and equipping those who were called by God to lead the next generation of Christians. This is still the case in many developing countries but is no longer the norm in the Western church.
Shouldn’t I just go to seminary?
This question is one many consider on a regular basis as they look at the gap between their current position — recent college grad, discontent with current job, or someone open to whatever/wherever it is the Lord wants to use him or her. In its original design, seminaries were designed to work hand in hand with local churches in raising up new leaders, but over the last several hundred years, many seminaries have focused more on the academic and the intellectual than the spiritual or the eternally formative (aside, I am actually in favor of a seminary education, especially for church leaders who are responsible for faithfully communicating the spoken word of God through preaching).
My main point here is this: many recent graduates from incredible academic institutions finish their four year seminary degrees with a wealth of knowledge and not the slightest clue about what being a pastor actually means. We place young men and women in high levels of leadership because of their educations and not because of their capacity to sit with those who hurt and comfort those who grieve. We train through education what the original text (Greek or Hebrew) meant for the original audience but have not the compassion or empathy, or the understanding, on how to translate that into the ordinary hurts, pains, triumphs and joys of our church family today.
Enter the Residency
A residency, at its core, is a practical season of application as it relates to recently acquired knowledge. In terms of the Church Residency, it is a two year, full time leadership training program designed to give hands on experience working with one of the staff teams of the church, personal mentoring, and leadership training to equip emerging church leaders for a lifetime of ministry significance.
We believe that the best education and growth in knowledge should always parallel the outworking of that training. In other words, if you’re learning a new truth or gaining a deeper understanding, but you don’t know how to communicate that meaningfully to the people in the church that you lead, then what’s the point? Paul put it this way,
If I have understanding of mysteries and of all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).
Real, practical ministry experience on one of Cornerstone’s ministry teams is the life’s blood of the residency. Over the course of their two years with us, residents will develop the leadership skills and spiritual capacity to shepherd others within the local church through practical, real-life ministry.
As a church, we want to be known for this one simple truth: in everything we do, in everything we say, that we would lead people to know and serve Jesus Christ. Essentially — our role as church leaders then is to lead others to love Jesus more.
More than this world. More than myself. More than when he first saved me.
The residency then becomes the training ground by which we will raise up future church leaders — worship and children’s pastors, youth pastors, college ministers, church planters and missionaries — and send them to wherever in this world it pleases the Lord; all for His glory, and the salvation of the world.