Mike and Sherri Harder are two vineyard pastors who not only talk about the most important stuff in life, they do it. We have watched them encounter some of the toughest situations in life and they’ve shone like Jesus himself. No seriously, we’re not trying to be sappy here; these guys are amazing leaders. They are in the midst of moving and replanting their church, and even in the midst of that transition, they felt God calling them to commit to multiply. They needed a good way to raise up church planters. And even beyond that, Sherri says, “we want to start multiplying as much of our lives as we can.”
Mike and Sherri Harder hosted a Residency+ for the first time this year in their Des Moines Vineyard church. Residency+ through VI is the turbo-powered vehicle to help you identify and raise up more leaders and church planters. It is a transformative course of study to develop leaders and church planters, and it’s flexible enough to be adapted to a group of any size. Sherri says, “if we run this program for the next 10 years, we will have intensely invested in over 100 leaders’ lives, and I can’t think of a better way to create a legacy.”
I caught up with Mike and Sherri recently to find out how their first year of Residency+ has gone, and what they think of the program. What they told me in response was story after story of the exciting, encouraging fruit they have seen already. Check it out:
MV: Can you tell me how it’s been adapting Residency+ to your particular church context?
Sherri: Well, we’re bivocational, and we’re grandparents. We have 8 students, most of whom work during the week. Their lives are pretty full. And we’ve found that our students want to do the material, but sometimes they can’t get to all of it. So we’ll take the books and assign students to summarize different sections. That way even if people haven’t beenable to get through the whole book, we can still have a discussion. It also makes them contextualize the book to our church, which is great.
I’ve also added assignments for specific people in the program. Last quarter I assigned The Treasure Principle to one young couple in addition to the main curriculum on money in church. We had another gal who works with the kids research how to teach kids Kingdom principles with money. Then in our session we discussed the main assignments, but we also brought in those other components—how do we teach this to kids? What does this mean for you as a young couple?
MV: How has Residency+ worked for the size of your group?
We want to start multiplying as much of our lives as we can.
Sherri: I’ll just preface by saying this: We would have done it with two people. I think we would have done it with one.
Mike: Yes, but I think for us, our size group—8 students—is great. We’ve been able to have a lot of personal sharing in our discussions. If it was any larger, we’d have to break into smaller groups to get that.
MV: So what would you say to other pastors who are considering hosting the program? What should the know beforehand?
Mike: First, Residency+ is a time investment, but you’re not creating it from scratch, so it’s minimal development, and maximum investment in people, which is what we want. It’s also a great way to filter leaders. One person dropped out this year, but I’m so glad he went through it, because we found out it’s not the season for him. That’s ok.
Sherri: You have to have the courage to believe that Jesus’ model for discipleship works and really spend time investing in a few that will invest in a few that will invest in a few. And, prepare to be a learner. We’ve learned so much from listening to our students respond to the material.
MV: So what value do you think this has added to your church this year?
Mike: We saw almost an immediate return on our investment in these people. Our students say they feel really privileged to have our time and input, but they’re matching it, stepping up in new areas. And leadership is being elevated in the whole church as a result. As we’re rebuilding, it’s really nice to know that our leadership foundation is wide and deep.
Sherri: Their thinking is changing, but so are the concrete, practical parts of their lives. When we talked about evangelism, many of them rearranged their lives so that, like Michael Gatlin talks about, they never do anything alone. They have a list of ten people they can bring along with whatever they are doing.
We’re also developing some of them to speak on Sunday mornings. In our discussion on Preventing Ministry Failure some of them were saying “this actually affects the whole church.” We saw in that the potential for a really great message series. So we changed our preaching calendar to add a series on stress, anxiety, and burnout, and we asked some of our students to preach based on what they shared in the group. Now they’re becoming seasoned teachers that our hearts can trust in because we’ve gotten to really know them.
I can’t imagine us NOT doing something like this every year.
MV: That’s all fantastic. So as we wrap up, do you have any final thoughts about your Residency+ experience so far?
Sherri: I’m just grateful. This is a tool that, whether you’re small, medium, or large, as a church, you get to play and develop leaders. I love that heart of it.
Mike: I can’t imagine us NOT doing something like this every year.
Fall quarter of Residency+ starts in September. Find out how you can host a site in your church here.