Why we needed this Church Planting Residency

Why we needed this Church Planting Residency

by Ed Mejia

I remember hearing Tim Keller speak about Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones and his transition from medicine to the pastorate. Many wondered why Dr. Lloyd-Jones would leave such a good career path to pastor. Well, Dr. Lloyd-Jones admittedly left his original career behind because he found that he was helping heal people only to see them run back to their sin. “I want to heal souls,” said Dr. Lloyd-Jones. It’s easy to imagine all that education was for nothing. But God, in his sovereign plan, saw fit for Dr. Lloyd-Jones to transition from medicine to a different form of ministry.

As I thought about his transition from a medical doctor to a doctor of the soul, I thought, “if it requires years of training to become a medical doctor shouldn’t pastors do the same?” It was this thinking that started me in my journey of seeking training to become a church-planting pastor. So, I started attending Bible College to learn how to rightly handle the Word of God. 

A doctor’s education doesn’t end with college; it requires years of hands-on training in the field. This process is called a residency. In light of this, I knew I couldn’t complete this part of my development in a classroom. The work of a pastor, like the work of a doctor, requires interacting with people often in difficult situations. This is the kind of training that doesn’t come from being with books but by being with people. Thankfully, God led us to Living Hope where we could find this kind of training and so much more. 

The experience of coming alongside seasoned pastors and leaders to learn and observe has been inspiring, challenging, and life-giving. I could imagine this was Timothy’s experience as he traveled with Paul in Acts 16. Timothy accompanied Paul as they traveled from town to town delivering the gospel. He was able to see Paul preach, pray, plant, and grow churches. Timothy also got to see how Paul lived, loved, sacrificed, and suffered until the very end. Timothy’s training experience with Paul prepared him to one day lead the church of Ephesus. And in 1 & 2 Timothy we can read that Paul didn’t only want to train Timothy for ministry effectiveness: he wanted to encourage him to finish well. (1Tim. 6:11-12)

And this is why I needed this residency. There are tons of resources, books, and networks that could prepare me for the competencies of planting a church. But finishing well can’t be learned in a book. Finishing well can only be learned by walking with spiritually healthy people who are concerned with pleasing God. Healthy pastors build healthy pastors, just as healthy churches plant healthy churches. And my prayer is that through this residency, like Dr. Lloyd-Jones, I too will be able to heal souls and plant healthy churches.

Ed was born in Honduras and raised in Brooklyn NYC. He currently lives in Lancaster, PA with his wife, Maggie, and their three children, Joseph, Elijah, and Olivia.