“I’m still in training, but I get real-life experience. Messy people walking alongside messy people: you can’t get that in a classroom. Until you’re in it, you have no idea.”
Residency exists to train pastors for lifelong ministry. “Here at 12Stone—we’re not just ‘the interns.’ They’re all about developing us. How much I’m being poured into, how much training I get, and how much of a ‘safety net’ I have is pretty incredible,” said Christine Kaye. Since graduating from Indiana Wesleyan in April 2015, Christine has been “walking alongside messy people” as a Spiritual Formation Resident at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA.
Christine helps first-time 12Stoners have a great experience: “Sunday, I walk around with a walkie-talkie alongside my volunteers. I’m greeting in the parking lot, at the door, and helping first-time guests find the Connect Room, where they’ll figure out ways to get connected.”
But as a Spiritual Formation Resident, Sunday services are just part of Christine’s job description: “For small groups, I work on training, workshops, and curriculum development—making sure everybody’s on the same page with the discipleship process. Right now, we’re doing a small group leaders kickoff event—so I’m helping coordinate that.” 12Stone Church is very intentional about giving resident pastors a behind-the-scenes look at ministry.
Lots of beautiful things are happening at 12Stone; but that beauty requires attention to nitty-gritty details: “I had my first pastor-on-call opportunity on Sunday. Practicums and classes can prepare you, but you can’t teach all this stuff in a class. Residencies are great just for that: the experience and training you receive,” said Christine.
The value of residency goes beyond the experiences, though. As with many opportunities, thepeople you’re with either make or break your experience. Christine talked about 12Stone’s staff culture, and how it’s helped transform her resident experience: “I learn so much just by watching them—my coworkers—who tackle so much. Right now, just because I’ve been in it for a month, the most important part of being a resident is the people I work with. I am looped in on all sorts of projects; I do a ton of stuff, and they really invite and value my input.”
Upon arriving at 12Stone, Christine dove headlong into ministry at 12Stone. This is partially because 12Stone was her home church before college; she was a student leader in their youth department before attending IWU. But this is also partially due to residency’s structure. After getting a degree, students who participate in residency can experience a transition between full-time study and full-time ministry.
If you are considering doing a residency, Christine has some advice for you: “First of all, do it! Out of college, I’d pick a residency over full-time ministry every time. You have to sacrifice financially for it, but having a residency will train you for ministry more intentionally than a full-time job would. When you go on staff in a full-time position, your supervisor usually won’t have the kind of dedicated time to pour into your training that a residency would offer. You might meet occasionally, but it becomes more professional than personal. A residency offers both: leadership advice that helps your round out your personal growth.”
For students who’ve decided to do a residency, Christine has some advice about what kind of church prospective residents should look for: “Find the Church’s DNA—look for how the church mentors people. Be careful of getting into a residency where you’re becoming a full-time pastor but being paid as a resident pastor. Ask probing questions that would bring that to light. Ask: what’s your training program look like? What does it mean for a resident to fail?” In other words, don’t take the church at face value—dig deeper into what the church does to help a resident thrive, and how the church quantifies a resident failure. Take advantage of great training, and gain perspective on pitfalls before stepping into them.
What about women in ministry? For other women who want to be in Church leadership, Christine has a recommendation: “Look for other women on staff. Don’t just pay attention to what’s on paper. See what kind of gender-diversity a church has, and follow what a church isdoing to promote women in leadership, not just what they’re saying.”
Leadership development is important for securing the future (and the present) of The Wesleyan Church. Christine—along with many other great resident pastors—is a helpful reminder that residency is doing its job: training high-caliber, Christ-like leaders to keep our church on its mission to change lives, churches, and communities through the hope and holiness of Jesus.
Ethan Linder is a staff writer for Education and Clergy Development. A fresh graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, Ethan and his wife Sarah currently live in Marion, Indiana–where Ethan is pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Christian Ministries from IWU, and Sarah is a teacher. When he’s not writing, Ethan enjoys reading, listening to music, studying cultures, running, and following the Philadelphia Phillies.
Elyse Garverick is interning with Education and Clergy Development this summer doing a lot of projects with Flame, Seminary Day, NPO, etc. Her biggest project has been kickstarting a Summer Prayer Initiative for pastors. She recently graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Christian Ministries and Biblical Literature. In the fall she will be continuing at Indiana Wesleyan to pursue a Master of Arts in Practical Theology. When she’s not at HQ, she can be found either youth pastoring at Hillside Wesleyan Church or watching Netflix.