What are the highlights of being a Resident at Westside?
We always ask this question to alumni, and hands down, the top answer is the community people find - it changes your life! Classes are a highlight for many, as an opportunity to really grasp the message of the Bible, and explore all those things you’ve never had opportunity to ask a specialist before. The opportunity to get close to staff and experience serving alongside them is great, and a relationship with a mature mentor can be a game changer.
What can I do as a Resident at Westside?
You will serve as part of the team during gatherings in lots of areas, but your main focus will be with the ministry team you join. We’ve had people work with Kids, Youth, Communities, Alpha, Production, Worship, The Bridge, House of Learning, Creative/Communications, and Hear the Cry. As long as there is someone that can work with and mentor you, we’ll look at any team - we want to find something that lines up with your heart and gifting.
How will this program help me in the future?
We want to build a foundation for life so that people can process their story so far, align themselves with God and His story, be restored, and make their next step an intentional one that lines up with their calling, no matter what they are called to do. We aim to equip for life as a mature Jesus follower, developing skills and habits for life that engage at the spiritual, emotional, and practical levels – skills for all of life, whether you go on to become a parent, community leader, teacher, pastor, engineer, evangelist, nurse, … or anything.
Who should apply for the Resident program at Westside?
We are looking for people who are ready to give a year to Jesus, open their hands, and ask Him what He wants from them. So you need to be serious about your relationship with Jesus and up for a challenge. We don’t expect you to be a theologian, to have memorized half the Bible, or to have loads of experience of ministry - you might even be a relatively new believer who’s not sure about a lot of things. The year is about building a foundation in all these things, so we mostly look at your heart.
What if I am not sure I want to work at a church? Is being a Resident still right for me?
Westside is called to develop kingdom leaders to step into the next generation and make a difference. Sometimes that involves working at a church, but normally it involves being a healthy part of a church and taking Jesus out into our community and city. This program is a step in that direction, wherever you end up working.
How long is the Resident program?
The program involves 9 months here at Westside, serving, having classes, being mentored, and so on; followed by a two-month trip. We begin after Labor Day, and have graduation in mid-July
What does the schedule for the year look like?
We have classes on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, followed by lunches. On Monday people meet for mentorship, Bible reading groups, and more food. On Sundays people typically serve during two gatherings. The rest of the week depends on the team you serve with. The rest of the schedule looks like a normal academic year, with a winter and spring break, some federal holidays off, and some time off when our church is taking a break (like the day after Easter). We have retreats in the fall and spring, usually for a few days.
Will there still be an practicum at the end?
Yes - the practicum trips are an important capstone experience. They give you an opportunity to pull together everything you have learned and put it into practice in a challenging new context. They are vital to the year.
What are the classes I will be taking?
We have a Bible class every week where we come to be transformed by God working through His word. One class a week focuses on prayer and worship - it’s our staff prayer time! But we also have a devotional time every week to make sure we are listening to what God is saying to our community. One class each week tackles spiritual formation and leadership, unpacking spiritual disciplines, life skills, and Jesus-style life and leadership. Our other classes explore theology. We do lots of Biblical theology, especially examining the Story of God, identity, mission, and the gospel. We also cover the important core topics you’d expect, along with space to delve into questions our culture is pressing into.
Is there homework?
Because this is a part-time program, with a big focus on space to serve alongside others, we limit the amount of homework. Sometimes there will be some reading or short written assignments, but they are for the purpose of your development and learning. We do not need to grade lots of work to check up on you - we’ll know you well enough that we can see how you are doing!
Are there different tracks and what does each track focus on?
Everybody does the same classes, but the team you join will personalize your experience. For example, if you are a musician with a heart for worship leading, joining the worship team will give you opportunity to develop those skills by being trained by staff, and having opportunity to exercise those gifts.
Will I be able to be a Resident and work at the same time?
Yes, most people have a part time job. It can take a bit of work to line your schedule up, but we want to work with you to make it happen.
Can I be a student at another college / university and still be a Resident at Westside?
The time commitment is a little over 20 hours, so it is possible to do so. But both this program and college are demanding developmental experiences, and we wouldn’t want you to miss your potential in either by overstretching yourself. Talk to us if you are worried about whether this is wise.
Can I be an Resident at Westside but not do the classes?
Sorry, but the classes and serving/mentorship go hand in hand, and feed into each other. Without the classes, we lack the tool we need to build a Biblical and theological foundation for life - and we think this is necessary for mature Jesus-followers. It would also be difficult to participate in the resident community if you were on a fundamentally different journey. If you do not want to do the classes but want to serve, consider plugging into one of our serve teams.
Why does an residency cost so much, aren't internships, or programs like this normally free?
Yes, internships are normally low cost or free, but they often do not provide a rich experience of serving involving mentoring and real responsibilities. They are also not supported by a comprehensive curriculum of classes and a mentoring program. This program is so much more than an internship. We bring in leading experts to teach, because we want you to be inspired by people who are pushing the envelope of ministry, theology, and culture – and this is our biggest cost. You will also have about 10 hours a week of contact time with our staff (not including the hours of prep it takes to run the program), and we want to honor the way Westside uses its funds to pay for staff by contributing towards the cost of these hours. On top of this, a big portion of the money provides for the food, books, retreats, and other expenses.
What does the tuition cover?
It covers everything apart from the cost of the final mission trip. We intentionally fundraise for these trips as part of developing you and your skills. You will not need to buy any books or other supplies.
Do you offer scholarships?
We do not currently offer any scholarships. But if your circumstance mean that you do not foresee being able to work towards participating in the program in the future, please speak to us. We recognize that this is a big expense for some people.
If I live outside of Portland Oregon, can I be a part of the Resident program at Westside?
Yes! We are interested in developing people for Jesus’ Kingdom, wherever that may be, and not just for Westside. We love to welcome people in from other traditions and backgrounds to learn with us for the year and be send back out – in fact this diversity enriches our community.
Is there housing for those coming from out of town?
We do not offer housing, but will do what we can to help you as you try to find housing in a new and unfamiliar city. Talk to us if this is a concern for you.
What does the application process look like?
We have an application form that helps us get to know you a little. If people seem like a good fit, we do an informal interview so we can ask you more about your story, hopes and so on (it also gives you chance to ask us questions). Then we pray, and send out a response. The whole process normally takes around 6-8 weeks, but often people do apply closer to the start of the program, so we can speed things up if needed.
Who should I contact for more information?
Speak to any of our staff - especially people who work in areas you think you might want to serve in. If you have questions about classes, applying, or just want to chat with someone about whether this could be for you, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to talk to you.
What is the deadline for applications?
We do not have a deadline, but in order to enter the program organized and with a minimum of stress, earlier is better!
Where can I find out more about your approach to learning?
Check out www.schoolormtw.org. We run our classes through the school (which is part of Westside) and you can find out more there. We will be updating this soon, but you’ll find some helpful info there.