Journey Residency

The Journey Residency is a two-year leadership development program for emerging leaders who feel called to vocational church ministry.



The Journey Residency is a two-year, full-time leadership training program designed to give hands-on experience working with one of the staff teams of the church, personal mentoring and leadership training to equip emerging church leaders for a lifetime of ministry significance.

Areas of Ministry

Children’s Ministry

Student Ministry


Spiritual Formation

The Residency at Journey is designed to equip and develop the next generation of leaders for a lifetime of significant ministry leadership.

We are committed to investing in emerging leaders. The purpose of the residency is for the development of the resident rather than for the benefit of the church.  “I used to want to help people get into the race, now I want to help them finish the race.” ~Pastor Dustin Aagaard

  • A potential resident must be able to express a clear calling into full time ministry.
  • A potential resident must be a college graduate. *
  • A potential resident must be in alignment with the church philosophy, culture and staff.
  • A potential resident must have some ministry experience.
  • A potential resident must have an appropriate maturity and work ethic.
  • A potential resident must complete the application process.
  • A potential resident must have clear and compelling leadership potential.
  • A potential resident must be able to express a clear calling into full time ministry.
  • A potential resident must express a clear sense of hunger and humility and the pursuit of holiness.

*Some exceptions may apply.

Each resident is expected to work full time workload. The bulk of their time will be spent working with their Resident Coach as a part of their ministry team. The remaining time (4 hours per week) will be spent in Resident Training.

There are four different ministry programs available for residents: worship, children’s ministry, student ministry, and spiritual formation

All residents will receive a monthly stipend of $600, a MacBook laptop, all expenses paid for an annual residents’ retreat, and all expenses paid for ministry specific camps or conference trips including Passion Conference.

Each resident will have the option to live in housing provided by the church. Residents are expected to conduct themselves appropriately at their host home. The resident should consider themselves part of the household. As a member of the household, the resident should be courteous with regard to cleanliness, noise, whereabouts and common considerations.

The Residency is a two-year program. After the 18th month mark, it is encouraged for residents to start looking for a ministry position.

The Journey Residency has three on-boarding times throughout the year; January, May and August.

Yes, some residents will have an additional part time job to supplement their income. The job, however, should not impede their regular residency duties. The resident is responsible to find his or her own outside employment that fits into their weekly ministry rhythm.


Brooke Renfroe
Family Ministry Resident
Brooke is one of our Student Ministry residents! “I basically get paid to have fun and love on awkward middle school kids.” From Dacula, Georgia, Brooke started working at Journey mid-September of 2020. “I knew Dustin from GA where he was my student pastor while I was in high school!”“I love everything about Journey! The people are some of the most genuine Jesus-loving people I’ve ever met. I love that the mission and focus here is simply to follow Jesus’s example in loving people and making them better disciples of Him. I also just love getting to work with students and help raise up the next generation of leaders and Christ followers!! They’re the future. :)” “My favorite food is Iced Coffee. It’s not often that you’ll see me without one in my hand.”
Trey Clifton
Student Ministry Resident
During my junior year of High School, I felt a strong pull into Ministry, which led me to Harding University. I graduated from Harding in 2021 with a BA in Bible and Family Ministry. Currently, I am blessed to be serving Journey as a Middle Resident where I get to help students begin molding their faith into their own. I believe students are ready to encounter Jesus at any age and if equipped are ready to chase after the purpose God calls them too. After Residency, I pray to continue working with Students in a Student Pastor position, equipping generations to be Kingdom Workers.
Melissa Papirio
Children's Ministry Resident
I graduated from Liberty University in 2021 with a degree in Christian Leadership & Church Ministries- Global Studies and a minor in Youth Ministry. One of my biggest passions is giving children, students, and families the tools and resources to study the Bible and teaching them what it means to live for Jesus. At Journey I have had the amazing opportunity to disciple students on our Journey Kids Worship team in how to disciple children and have been extremely blessed seeing them all grow in their passion for God and their confidence in Him. After graduating from the residency I would love to continue in children’s and family ministry leading children’s worship and creating curriculum for kids, teens, and adults that teach them how to study scripture together as a family. My hands are open and I am willing to go wherever the Lord leads me in life. I’m excited about where He will take me next! If you have any questions please contact me!
Leah Esakson
Student Ministry Resident
After participating heavily in my youth ministry when I was in high school, God gave me my calling into ministry. After discovering that calling, I began to study Youth Ministry while at Liberty University and have been chasing after it ever since. I love walking along side students and helping them really dive headfirst into their faith with God. I also really love the more administrative side of ministry. During one of my classes I heard about Journey and instantly felt the Lord calling me to come here for the residency. I feel like God has opened many doors for me when it comes to ministry and I’m beyond excited to see where He takes me in life.
Ben Belangee
Student Ministry Resident
I am from Fairfield Illinois and I have a degree in youth ministry from Liberty University. I'm also currently pursuing a master's degree in Christian Ministry at Liberty. I have a huge heart for students and I believe the Lord has called me to raise up the next generation of leaders and followers of Christ. I am so thankful to be able to call Journey my home for the next couple of years because of the incredible leaders and culture here. The people at Journey love Jesus and are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met.
Ashley Welter
I graduated from Liberty University in 2022 with my degree in Youth Ministries and a minor in Biblical Studies. My biggest passion is making the gospel clear and applicable to the next generation and their family. I want to help children understand that they do not have to fix themselves to come to Jesus but that he loves and welcomes them how they are. I love everything about Journey, it is truly one of the healthiest and most welcoming churches I have gotten to be a part of. I love being able to lead in Journey Kids and minister to the next generation. It is so exciting to be able to disciple children and watch them start to understand and own their relationship with God. After my residency at Journey, my hope is that I would be able to continue working in children’s and family ministries. I am open to whatever God’s plans are for me!