Introduction to the Residency

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.  Proverbs 13:12

According to business authors Dennis and Michelle Reina (Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008), there are three kinds of trust:  1) Contractual Trust – Based upon character, I trust you to keep your commitments. 2) Competence Trust – Based upon Capability, I trust you more as I see you deliver consistently; and finally 3) Communication Trust – Based upon Disclosure, I trust you to manage my expectations with honest feedback as to how things are going.

This Introduction to the residency is an attempt to lay out the first steps in a long process of building a reciprocal relationship of trust.  Every resident should be crystal clear on what is expected of him, and should be equally as clear on what he can expect from the residency.  This is the first cut at establishing from the outset what will be expected of a resident and what he can expect of us.  Over time trust either grows or erodes.  The clearer we are with these expectations, the higher our likelihood of success.

What is a Residency?

A residency in medicine is a period of specialized training in clinical medicine or surgery in a hospital that hones the skills of the physician through practice, instruction and “master classes.”  Hill Country’s residency is a one year learning community of the same type, assisting a church planter with an environment that hones the skills, character and knowledge of the planter, coaching him to a successful church plant that eventually matures into a part of the Association of Hill Country Churches whose mission is to take the life changing reality of Jesus to all of Greater Austin.

Who Qualifies?

The first criterion is proven ministry experience.  This assignment is not for the inexperienced, but for seasoned pastors willing to step to the front lines.

Secondly, our experience validates the long-recognized reality of Indigenous Church Planting:  that locals best reach locals.  Our most successful planters are not parachuting in from another state or culture; they grew up in our middle school ministry!  Third, the planter is approved by a certified assessment that evaluates aptitude for church planting, based upon the thirteen behavioral characteristics of effective church planters.

Additionally, we assess theological alignment (not creedal conformity, but general agreement – see our “This We Believe” document on our website.)  If there are significant theological disagreements, these need to be discussed immediately.

Also, we require a commitment to male, elder led church governance.  This ecclesiological bottom line is a fundamental DNA issue with HCBC.  Finally, there must be a willingness (and ability) to raise funds if needed to supplement the first year’s costs.  The best leaders have the capacity to underwrite the costs of planting by casting vision to people who then are willing to invest.

Learning Objectives

There are four key learning objectives that the residents will accomplish in order to experience vitality as a church plant:

1.  Understanding the biblical foundations. 
The planter will have clarity on the biblical imperative of planting churches, the biblical description of a local church, and the biblical values and convictions that shape church ministry.  Without biblical certainty in these areas the planter will lack courage to face the task.

2.  Exegeting the community. 
Under the direction of the Church Plant Team of HCBC, the planter will be assigned a specific neighborhood or people group in greater Austin that fits his passion and profile.  Does he understand why Austin is important to the Christian church?  Has he grappled with the biblical view of cities?  Is he ready to unpack what it means to be an Austinite?  Is he captivated by a love for the city?  What kind of church will it take to reach his “parish”, that is, what kind of values and what kind of strategy will he employ?

3.  Understanding leadership.
Gift based, elder-led church polity is a critical success factor.   Can he cast a compelling vision that enlists followers as well as emerging elders?  The lead pastor must first be tested as a leader.  Does the planter demonstrate the ability to plan, organize, lead and evaluate ministry?

4.  Developing Concrete Skills.

  • How to exegete a culture
  • How to cultivate and cast vision
  • How to develop a prayer network
  • How to prospect and gather people to a cause
  • How to identify, enlist, develop, and deploy a missional core
  • How to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts
  • How to develop and implement a contextual model of church
  • How to evangelize a community
  • How to develop and implement an assimilation strategy
  • How to develop a complete ministry plan
  • How to create a compelling communication plan
  • How to raise funds, develop a budget
  • How to create the seven core systems 

The Broad Stages of Development 

Phase I


Phase II


Phase III


Performance expectations

  • CONTEXT:  Embracing and participating in the HCBC culture in order to have a “home base” of lifelong friends, supporters, referrals and to pick up valuable DNA.
  • TRAINING:  Create and fulfill the learning contract established between you and the church planting center director.
  • TARGETING:  Exegete the targeted culture with a compelling analysis of demographics/psychographics.
  • TEAMING:  Enlist, envision, and engage a missional core of at least 10 families/households (which you have freedom to enlist from HCBC if appropriate to your targeted field.)
  • Establish a prayer base with whom you regularly communicate.
  • ENGAGE CULTURE:  Saturating your mission focus group with the gospel with the E-1, 2, 3 processes. 
  • Identify 200 qualified E-1s (People that your Missional Core have “entered into relationship with.”)
  • Network in the community with pastors, leaders, businesses and neighbors.
  • FORMING COMMUNITY:  Qualify 50 unchurched gatherable people (People that you have had gospel conversations with and are open to being part of your “forming community”).
  • Form community by leaving (existing Christian friends and obligations), living among, loving without strings, listening and sharing the gospel.
  • STRUCTURING COMMUNITY:  Develop the key ministry systems for launch.
  • LAUNCH:  Develop a clear Ministry Action Plan with a granular execution detail including people, purpose, place, personnel, provision and program.
  • Identify, develop and select a minimum of two elders.  (If this is not possible, consideration will be given to a post launch development strategy.)
  • Raise funds to underwrite your first year’s budget.  (Funds may come from core group, HCBC, and outside fundraising.)

What can the resident expect from HCBC?

  • Financial support for the duration of the residency provided the candidate is able to fulfill residency expectations.
  • Start up, interest-free “loan” from the Church Plant Acceleration Fund (CPAF) based upon ability to repay--to be repaid by first fruits gifts from the missional core and due no later than 9 months.
  • Additional cash flow grant for the first year of the plant is based upon the model and justified need.
  • Coaching and a personalized learning contract, with follow up coaching for up to three years after launch.
  • Freedom to enlist up to ten Missional Core families out of HCBC when appropriate to the target area/mission focus group.
  • Guidance in developing a successful strategy for planting a spiritually vibrant community.
  • This is a one-year residency, and not a guarantee of success or long-term employment. 

What can HCBC expect from the resident?

The Common Observable Winning Behaviors:

  • Enthusiastic involvement in the life of HCBC that sees the good in everything.
  • Praying and reading the word every day.
  • Meeting new people every day.
  • Seeing “planting the gospel” as the first priority over planting a church.
  • Living and thinking like the Apostle Paul!  WWPD means what would Paul do?  Everywhere he went he stirred things up around the gospel.
  • Expecting new people to come to faith every week.
  • A disciplined rhythm to life that includes a standard week.
  • An eager-to-learn, teachable, servant’s heart.
  • Initiative to own the church planting effort.
  • A positive, faith-filled focus on what God is doing.
  • Willingness to follow HCBC leadership within scriptural limits.
  • Willingness to be a part of the residency community.
  • Faithfulness to fulfill all assignments.
  • Willingness to gladly participate in worship and service as a part of the HCBC community.
  • Willingness to develop a spiritually vibrant, reproductive church that sustains an ongoing relationship with the Association of Hill Country Churches.
  • Believing that God will provide everything you need if you will seek first His Kingdom and his righteousness.
  • Staying tight with your wife (and kids).

The Common Observable Losing Behaviors

  • Failure to engage in the life of HCBC.
  • A critical spirit that sees critique as the highest form of intellect.
  • Complaint, whining, negativity.
  • Unwillingness to embrace the process, jumping the gun, getting ahead of oneself.
  • Independent spirit that fails to learn, ask questions, and seek help.
  • Spending lots of time in a coffee shop, working on your website rather than meeting new people every day.
  • Forming community before you engage culture and see new Christians involved in your community.
  • Planting a church rather than planting the Gospel (Going into business vs. Growing into business).
  • Planting the “ideal church” that is in your head rather than the one that makes sense to “them.”
  • Making excuses for why things are not working the way they should.
  • Neglecting or shaming your wife

Called as a Lead Pastor by Hill Country Bible Church Austin in 1989, Tim Hawks’ love for God’s word has helped thousands of people call Hill Country Bible Church their church home. Tim Hawks is a 1981 BBC graduate and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Christ Together and provides leadership to likeminded pastors who long to see the gospel shared with every man, woman and child across the country.