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Why Residency?

Written by Brad Merchant on

Sitting across from me in a crowded coffee shop sat a soon-to-be seminary graduate. He had spent three years learning the finer points of theology, devouring thick books, and writing countless papers to earn a degree that, he hoped, would prepare him for pastoral ministry.

But when asked if he was ready to begin pastoring a church his reply was simple.

“I don’t feel ready.”

Though his theological education helped him parse words in the New Testament and explain penal substitutionary atonement, it had failed to help him know how to implement a discipleship strategy and care for a grieving widow. While his systematic theology was muscular, his practical theology was flabby. What this now-graduated seminarian needed was practical ministry experience, mentoring from a seasoned pastor, and intentional development as a leader.

What he needed was the College Park Residency Program.

By joining the Residency Program at College Park, young leaders are invested in so that an “I don’t feel ready” morphs into an “I can’t wait to get started!” This transformation is the outcome of the Residency Program’s four core values at work.

1. Ministry Experience

Ministry is best learned through gaining practical experience. As a result, all College Park residents are assigned to specific ministry departments to lead, serve, and grow in. From hospital visits to leading meetings, all residents are empowered for practical, hands-on experience every week in order to grow as ministers of the gospel.

2. Leadership Development

During their time at College Park, residents are intentionally developed as gospel-centered leaders. They attend conferences, participate in cohort learning groups, and receive feedback on their leadership from battle-tested leaders at College Park Church.

3. Personal Mentoring

All residents are assigned a Resident Coach—a seasoned pastor or ministry leader—to help them grow personally as men and women of God. Residents will spend one to two years doing life with their Resident Coach for the purpose of meaningful accountability, joyful fellowship, and growth in godliness.

4. Missional Launching

The College Park Residency Program is designed to develop and deploy leaders into ministry and the marketplace all around the world for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. This conviction has led us to launch former residents all over the world—from Fishers, Indiana to the Middle East—for the purpose of gospel advancement.

The College Park Residency Program is a launching pad God has used to turn an “I don’t feel ready” into a “Let’s go!”

Learn more about the College Park Church Residency Program by visiting

Brad Merchant

Brad serves as the Pastor of Theological Development at College Park. Brad is passionate about equipping people to be flourishing, joyful Christians. He enjoys spending time with friends, fellow College Park pastors and elders, and his wife and son.

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