Residency Program

Our Residency Program is personal, practical, theological and hands-on.

Couples spend two or more years in a gospel-driven church plant. They gain ministry experience, and witness up-close the transforming power of the gospel in people’s lives.




While we view seminary education as critical to pastoral ministry (see our Profile), that’s just the start. NETS is a kind of capstone project for church planters, synthesizing and building on the skills acquired in seminary. Residents serve as assistant pastors and in a variety of ministry roles.

We believe the adage that ‘more is caught than taught.’ There’s an emphasis on watching, then being instructed on what you observed; and doing, then being evaluated on what you did. We ask the key questions: Why did you do that? Do you know why I did that? It’s an interactive format centered on a very active mentoring.



Residency couples are enfolded into the life of a gospel-driven church plant. Christ Memorial Church is currently the primary mentoring site. Lead mentors are church planter Wes Pastor, his wife, Sue, and preaching mentor Craig Combs. Skilled lay couples meet regularly with residents and their wives, and the church as a whole invests in each couple and their family.

Interactions are formal and informal, one-on-one, in groups, and as couples. They can take place anywhere – in your living room, on the golf course, at the park, over coffee – wherever life happens.


Couples are being mentored as much by the experience of being involved in a gospel-driven church as they are by the structured things NETS is doing. Wes Pastor


The Residency Program is guided by five concurrent tracks. While all tracks are in view throughout your time at NETS, each comes into particular focus at one
 point in the residency.


There is no more effective church-planting strategy than gospel proclamation. NETS develops each resident’s preaching skills from the moment they arrive. In conjunction with the Hermeneutics & Theology Track, men grow in analyzing scripture, preaching to the affections, and applying each text to real life. They synthesize books of the Bible, prepare preaching series, and coordinate those series with other preachers. There’s coaching and feedback from sermon prep through delivery. And at weekly meetings, residents critique sermons and learn from the critiques of others.

Couples also dive into ministry. Throughout the residency, you’ll serve in a variety of roles, as leaders and assistants, nursery workers and partners in counseling. Together, you’ll grow as servant-leaders, gospel counselors and soul physicians.


Pastors must handle the word of the gospel with skill and wisdom. Led by seasoned ministers, apprentices grow in their ability to see Christ in all of scripture, grounded in historic Protestant and Reformed theology. They read and discuss works by the great Reformers. These honed exegetical skills are complemented by the practical skills developed in the Preaching & Ministry Track.


The pastor must view himself as the lead worshiper in his church. To lead well, he must have a solid theology of worship. Differences over musical preference can divide even the most mature church. NETS develops each resident’s grasp on the theology and practice of Christ-centered worship, including understanding the role of music in worship and coordinating and leading a music team for Sunday morning.


Ministers must adorn the gospel by being above reproach both in personal integrity and in family management. Through group discussion, couples’ counseling, and an annual marriage retreat, the Personal & Family Track strengthens the character and marriage of each church-planting couple, helping them to grow in love for one another and for their Savior.

Wives learn and grow alongside their husbands. They read books like Religious Affections (Edwards), To Understand Each Other (Tournier), and The Shepherd Leader (Witmer). They are adjuncts on our Women’s Advisory Board, and coordinators in our women’s and children’s ministries.

The mentoring couples massaged the gospel into every crevice of our lives. Our marriage is sweeter and our love for one another and Christ’s church has grown exponentially.Chris & Brandi Bass




Good shepherds manage their flocks well. They need people skills and practical knowledge. Throughout the residency, church planters have developed both, serving as assistant pastors, adjunct elders, ministry team leaders and gospel counselors. Now, as you prepare to enter the field, these roles continue, but the focus is shifting. All residents prepare a strategic plan, budget and prospectus for their future church plant, and fundraising shifts into high gear. 


Couples receive feedback throughout the program. There is a formal mid-point evaluation assessing the likelihood of admission into the Field Program, and a final evaluation prior to acceptance into the Field Program.


The Residency Program is tuition-free. Housing and utilities (except phone) are also provided. Families live in a condo or single-family home in the NETS student housing complex. As assistant pastors, they also receive a stipend and health insurance. They are required to raise the rest of their monthly living expenses without either husband or wife taking outside employment.