One thing that many pastors say they lack is true, deep friendships. Many don’t feel they have peers in ministry; several feel like they have allies, but not true confidants. A priority in Saturate’s Regional Residencies is to develop residents holistically. This includes providing some of the best trainers to shape our minds in the knowledge of ministry realities, some of the best exercises to give residents hands-on experiences in various competencies, and also some of the best introspection and peer relationships. Our goal is that resident couples’ hearts are stirred for Jesus, and also that they end the process with a trusted group of peers, who know each other deeply and can serve each other in the highs and lows of ministry.
Stephen Weeks, a resident who planted in Philadelphia, shares his experience with these intertwined elements of equipping, and the vital relationships he developed during the process…
A little over four years ago, I was blessed to be a part of a Saturate Regional Residency. Since then, our church has had three other men walk through the residency. For me, the Regional Residency met a need in my life in a few different ways.
First, it provided me close, familial relationships both with pastors who had previously planted churches, as well as men who were in the process of planting churches, just like me. Having brothers with this shared experience provided a safe place to share both discouragements and victories. I don’t think I had ever experienced this kind of transparency among brothers where laughter and tears were so freely experienced. We were in each other’s lives supporting, praying, and keeping up with one another, and continue to be to this day. At one point, another planter and I were walking through some very difficult circumstances, and two of the other pastors from the residency flew out to be with us. This solidified to me that we don’t just say we are the family of God, but we also display it in practical ways.
Second, the residency was radically committed to Jesus and His calling to make disciples. The training helped me to break away from seeing discipleship as a program and move to understanding how discipleship happens through life together on mission with Jesus. I see the Regional Residency as the incubator in which aspiring planters can start to see how gospel theology transforms everyday life.
Third, I really enjoyed the opportunity to sit under and learn from a diverse group of godly pastors and theologians; men who not only had wisdom from the Word, but practical pastoral ministry experiences. One of my most memorable experiences was a gathering where our wives joined us. My wife and I were able to spend time with another church pastor and his wife who have been a part of planting churches all over the world for decades. They made space to pray and talk with my wife and I a handful of times outside the session, and we were able to glean from years of their ministry experience!
This year for the first time, I have had the joy to help host, lead, and equip some of our Northeast church planting residents and am excited to continue to help provide this experience for many more planters!
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