Missional Residencies Across Montana for Montana

Lee MerckAll Enews, Planting Team

Two Conversations that Need to Meet in the Middle

As I’ve traveled for work and for various ministry opportunities, I’ve had two distinct conversations about residencies. One conversation has been with pastors and church planters who express their desire to have a residency in their church. The other conversation has been with young men and women who are called to ministry, and who often ask me if we have any residency opportunities in Montana. For the sake of emphasis, allow me to reiterate this a little differently.

Pastor/Church Planter: “I would love to have a residency in my church.”

Potential Residency Candidate: “Do you have any residency opportunities in Montana?”

As you can imagine, I often find myself in a dilemma when attempting to answer this question. On one hand, I know that we have some great churches and highly capable leaders that have a desire to build a residency in their church or in their region, but their desires have not yet been realized. On the other hand, there are many candidates that would apply for residencies and internships in our Montana Southern Baptist Churches if the opportunities existed. For example, I once had a conversation with the Chair of the Department of Intercultural Studies at one of our country’s fastest growing Bible colleges. He expressed the desire to partner with a state like Montana, and to send students on a yearly basis. His simple request was for the churches and organizations to have a well-thought-out, organized plan that would lead to the further development of these students. He simply wanted to be able to trust the people and the process before the school endorsed it, and before they created such a pipeline.

This leads us to conclude that there is incredible potential for a gospel-centered movement in Montana that advances the Kingdom through residencies by making disciples and training leaders. And I believe that this is one of the ways in which God might multiply workers in the harvest fields of Montana. While starting a residency might seem a little intimidating, it should be approached as simple obedience to Ephesians 4:12 where we are instructed to equip the Saints for the work of the ministry. Over time, we might have students and others from out of state join our residencies, but we really need to develop them for people who make up our own congregations and for those whom we’ve yet to reach that God is planning to use in the future. Any size church can build a residency if they have a place, people, and a plan. Clint Clifton defines a residency as “a plan for turning members into missional leaders.” Below you will find a couple of resources that will help you continue thinking about how to build a residency in your church. The first is a free e-book by Clint Clifton: https://www.newchurches.com/resource/how-to-start-a-residency/.  The second resource is a RESIDENCY QUICK-START GUIDE from the North American Mission Board. If you’d like to continue having conversations about creating residency opportunities in your church, our Montana Church Planting Team is available. Reach out to me at [email protected] to schedule a time for a roundtable.

About the Author

Lee Merck

Lee Merck is the Church Planting Team Leader for Montana, Pastor of The Church at Four Corners in Bozeman, and the Director of Send Network Montana.