A Great Ministry Opportunity for Soon-to-Graduate Seminarians: The Pastoral Residency at College Church

If you are in your last year of seminary or grad school, November is not too early to start thinking about how you will serve the Lord after you graduate.

I hope you seriously consider applying for the Pastoral Residency program at my church, College Church in Wheaton, IL.

What the College Church Pastoral Residency is

The College Church Pastoral Residency is a two-year training program for men who are called to ministry, and have completed a Master’s level theological degree (M.A., M.Div., etc.). It is influenced by the concept of a medical residency, where a med school graduate practices in a clinic or hospital under the supervision of a licensed doctor. Pastoral Residents do real ministry under the supervision of an ordained pastor.

Two candidates are admitted each year. Your time will be devoted to mentored ministry (20 hours) and ministry training (20 hours).

Who should apply?

I’ll be honest, this program is for people who are already prepared to step into a full-time pastoral role. Our residents come with lots of experience serving in the church. This is not a “holding your hand through ministry experience” training program. This is a “papa bird pushing the baby birds out of the nest” training program.

Chris Spano, Lead Pastor at Trinity Community Church in Bowie, MD: There were two great benefits to being a Pastoral Resident. First, I became convinced of my “conscious incompetence.” I expected to get the hang of pastoral ministry after my two years of service. Now, although I am slowly growing in confidence, I get nervous when I think I’m getting the hang ministry. The second benefit was the opportunity to serve alongside some mature, faithful, and humble pastors, who were still convinced of their “conscious incompetence.” Now that I’m a pastor, it’s helpful to remember that, by God’s grace, faithfulness and failure are not mutually exclusive realities.

Then why not apply for a full-time pastoral position? The benefit of this two-year program, over jumping right into ministry, is that you will learn the things only experience can teach you, with the safety net of a pastor-mentor to catch you when you mess up. The mistakes you make here won’t send anyone on a church shopping spree.

Also, you will be able to see a healthy-but-not-perfect church, up close and personal. You will see things you want to take with you – and don’t want to take with you – wherever the Lord leads you to serve long-term.

What have Pastoral Residents gone on to do?

I can’t guarantee that you will land the ministry role of your dreams after graduating from the Pastoral Residency (in fact, if you are hoping to end up in a dreamy role, this is not the thing for you). That said, we have a pretty good track record of residents finding pastoral positions. Of the seven residents that have gone through our program:

  1. Two residents have taken positions as lead pastors.
  2. Two residents have taken associate pastor positions (one of those residents is now the lead pastor of the church where he took said associate position).
  3. One resident has planted a church in Europe
  4. Two residents are serving as missionaries in Europe or Asia.

I think this track record speaks to the high quality of our training program and the high quality of candidates we accept into the program.

Examples of ministry experiences a Pastoral Resident can expect

So what does this program look like, in concrete terms? It is likely that your experience will be very close to the following:

  1. You will preach several times in a Sunday evening service.
  2. You will receive brutally honest feedback on your exegesis and homiletics before and after you preach those sermons from the other residents and a few of the pastors.
  3. You will preach several times in a Sunday morning adult community.
  4. You will help cast vision for, and lead, one of the ministries of the church (right now, residents are helping lead in the young adults ministry, jr. high ministry, college ministry, and congregational care).
  5. You will attend elder meetings.
  6. You will participate in pastoral staff meetings.
  7. You will be mentored by one of the pastors.
  8. You will participate in the Sunday morning service, including: giving the welcome, sharing announcements, offering the pastoral prayer, and reading Scripture.
  9. You will figure out what a pastor actually does, and thus you will develop your personal work style.
  10. You will go through the College Church ordination process – something I recommend even if you desire to be ordained within a denomination, as well.
  11. You will maintain your attitude of academic rigor by virtue of serving at a church that is right across the street from Wheaton College.
  12. You will grow as a pastor-scholar through training in preaching, applying theology to ministry, leadership, and counseling.
  13. You will attend preaching seminars (last year’s seminars were led by Phil Ryken, Duane Litfin, Dave Helm, and College Church Sr. Pastor, Josh Moody).
  14. You will visit congregants in the hospital.
  15. You will assist in and/or lead funerals and weddings.
  16. You will lead a short-term, overseas missions trip.
  17. You will visit, care for, and serve the Lord’s Supper for a shut-in.
  18. You will preach at the local convalescent center.
  19. You will attend our annual Workshop on Biblical Exposition.
  20. And more.

To sum up, you will develop considerably as a prophet, priest, and king.

For more information

If you want to find out more details – including schedule, training details, and salary – check out the full description of the Pastoral Residency here.

How do you apply?

If you are interested in applying for this program, you may email Carolyn at clitfinATcollege-churchDOTorg to request an application.

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