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November 25, 2015

3 Marks of a Healthy Church Residency Program

By Daniel Im

Q&A Webinars are a monthly segment for Plus Members. This is where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to the leading experts in church planting, multisite, and multiplication. Q&A webinars are your unique opportunity to ask your questions to these thought leaders. For this month’s segment, Ed and I talk to Mike McDaniel, the Pastor of Church Planting and Leadership Development at The Summit’s church planting residency program. Plus Members can watch the full segment by logging in and then clicking here.

To A Thousand and Beyond—The Summit Church

How many churches would you like to see planted in the next five years? Ten years? 30 years? In your lifetime? Well, for The Summit Church in Raleigh/Durham, NC, they want to see 1000 churches planted in this generation.

Obviously, for a single church, this is a pipe dream that will require a lot of discipline, intentionality, resiliency, and reproduction. But most of all, it will require a move of God.

For The Summit Church, they have developed a church planting residency program as a practical step to work towards this goal. Recently, Ed and I connected with Mike McDaniel to talk about their residency program and how it prepares church planters for the field.

Given that residency programs are on the rise, I think a question that needs to be asked is: What constitutes a healthy and successful residency program? This is a fair question that would receive a variety of answers. Here are the first three key ingredients for a residency program to be healthy and successful (see the webinar for the rest).

1. Provide a theological lens, not just practical lessons

If all you do is teach church planters the nuts and bolts of church planting without the theological foundation you instill in them the mechanics, not the mission, of church planting. In other words, if the residency only provides the nuts and bolts of church planting, it fails to prepare the planter with the glory, grandeur, and goal of God’s mission. It also neglects preparing the planter for the bumps along the way as they lead the church towards God’s mission.

Planters need to understand the “why” and “what now” of planting. They need to understand “why” they need to manage their time wisely, “why” they need to find their identity in Christ, “why” they should pursue diversity, “what now” after they experience relational (or staff) problems, “what now” after they experience great victories, and “what now” when they face setbacks.

2. Build authentic community, not just a hub for learning

Church planting can be a lonely calling if done apart from community. Thus, an element that is needed within church planting residencies that will help shape and support church planters is authentic community. The Summit intentionally does at least three things that help create authentic community for the planters in residence.

First, pastors at The Summit invest time in the church planters. While the planters have some personal interaction with the Lead Pastor, J.D. Greear, they spend a great deal of intentional time with Mike receiving coaching.

Second, The Summit houses multiple planters during the nine-month residency. By having multiple residents, The Summit creates an instantaneous community for them that, according to Mike, continues even after the residency is over and the planters are on the field.

Third, The Summit enlists a small group to connect and adopt a church planter. By adopting the church planter, the small group commits to encourage, support, pray, and possibly send short-term mission teams to help them.

By the time planters transition from the residency to the field, they have become part of a community—really a larger family—that loves and supports them.

3. Call people to join the planter, not just watch them ride off into the sunset

In country and western movies, the cowboy usually comes to town, does what he needs to do, and then rides off into the sunset all by himself.

For successful and healthy residency programs, this should not be the end picture—the church planter riding off into the sunset by himself. Rather, the picture should have him being accompanied by others. J.D. Greear touches on this aspect in his latest book, Gaining by Losing, where The Summit purposely invites people to be part of a church planting team. According to Mike, The Summit on average sends about 20–25 people with each planter to their perspective contexts. In short, healthy church planting residency programs not only send out equipped planters, they send out their own people.


If our goal for church planting is to plant healthy, vibrant, and reproducing churches, then we need to make sure that planters understand what healthy, vibrant, and reproducing churches look like. This understanding should be something that is instilled in planters at the very beginning of their training and equipping. This is why residency programs can be a great tool to help train planters on how to plant and lead such a church. And it is The Summit’s hope that their church planting residency is a tool that will help propel them to plant 1000 churches in this generation.

If you are a church planter looking into enrolling in a residency, or a pastor praying about beginning something like a residency at your church, I would encourage you to check out The Summit Network and to watch this Webinar in its entirety. This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.


  • What constitutes a healthy and successful residency program?
  • Teaching the nuts & bolts of church planting w/o the theological foundation, instills the mechanics—not the mission—of cp.
  • Planters don’t need to be given an orthopraxy without it being filtered through a sound orthodoxy.
  • Praxis devoid of a theological foundation leads to shallowness, not depth.
  • The Summit aims to provide practical instruction from a theological construct for their church planting residents.
  • Church planting can be a lonely and overwhelming calling if done apart from community.
  • Having multiple church planting residents creates an instantaneous community.
  • Healthy church planting residency programs invite & challenge their own people to join God on mission by joining a cp team.
  • Healthy church planting residency programs not only send out equipped planters, they send out their own people.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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