The Perfect Recipe
First thoughts of residency…
As I’ve spent the past year and a half in the college residency at Mercy Hill, I have experienced tremendous growth through theological education and hands-on ministry. What I hear week to week in the classroom can be directly applied on the college campus. There’s no pseudo-experience in this ministry position – it’s the real thing.
In a greenhouse, plants flourish and grow due to the optimal warmth, humidity, and light. In the same way, the college residency has been an environment where I’ve been able to be nourished and pruned. The avenues by which I have felt nourished are through the classroom and from the many men and women on staff. The set aside two years required for the residency has provided the perfect recipe for an uncomfortable but necessary season of pruning.
Avenues of Nourishment
One of the primary reasons I decided to enter into the college residency was for theological education. During a resident’s two years at Mercy Hill, he or she receives an accredited Master’s degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The tedious writing assignments and countless books I’ve picked up have served to strengthen and embolden my walk with Jesus. In addition, I have felt supported and cared for by the staff at Mercy Hill. The amount of wisdom and guidance provided has worked to develop me as a child of God and one who ministers to multiple students a week.
The Perfect Recipe for Pruning
John 15:3 says, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
God, aka the Gardner, prunes the plants that are bearing fruit. And the reason He prunes the plant is so that it may bear more fruit. Pruning, while it is difficult and painful often, is needed for flourishment and healthiness. Hebrews 12:6 takes a deeper look into why God prunes – “for the Lord disciplines the one He loves…”
One of the many highlights of doing college ministry has been the moments of one-on-one with students. One student in particular I had the opportunity to meet through evangelism on campus. When we met in the spring of 2023, it was clear that the Lord had been stirring this student’s heart towards Himself. About seven months later, this student and I reconnected and have been meeting weekly, talking about what it means to follow Jesus and lay down our lives for Him. Witnessing the Spirit of God at work in this guy has been humbling and astounding.
The best event in college ministry is City Project, the 8-week summer discipleship program Mercy Hill utilizes to send and develop college students for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
As one who has gone through this project as a student and resident, I have seen the ways the Lord uses this summer to change the trajectory of lives. The summer I participated in City Project altered the way I viewed my role as a believer, revealing my responsibility as a disciple-maker. To see this similar work in the lives of students that I’ve had the opportunity to walk alongside for an entire school year is a true honor and blessing.
What I’ve Learned
My exposure to college ministry and working at a church has allowed me to dip my feet in the water and see what full-time ministry would look like inside the walls of a church. I have experienced intense sorrow and great joy, and through these felt reassurance in vocational ministry. A context like the residency clarifies calling and reveals giftings. The opportunity to learn about myself and how the Lord has wired me to work on this earth is a gift.
Consider the Challenge
While this program is not for everyone, the residency is not for one type of person. Everyone gets something different out of the residency – that’s the beauty of it. It’s not for some cookie-cutter person. No, it’s for the hungry and the thirsty. So, are you willing to grow? To be challenged? To be uncomfortable in the best ways? Pray and consider doing the residency. It’s by no means the only path to grow and develop, but a sure route to go deeper with the Lord.
– J. Petitfils