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Our Purpose

We cultivate pastors’ capacity to nurture collegial friendships, mentoring relationships and their own wellbeing

Thriving in Ministry projects seek to cultivate deep friendship among pastors, walk alongside pastors and foster pastors’ wellbeing. The projects support pastors in congregational ministries facing transitions, such as beginning in a new congregation or preparing for retirement, as well as those who share common experiences, such as women of color in ministry, bi- or multi-vocational pastors, or pastors in rural communities.

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about thriving in ministry

Helping pastors thrive in congregational leadership & enhancing the vitality of the congregations they serve

Funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., Thriving in Ministry awarded 129 grants to colleges, seminaries, denominations, congregations, and other non-profits to strengthen pastoral leaders and their congregations. Leadership Education at Duke Divinity provides resources and support to these projects, curating learning opportunities for project staff and sharing wisdom gleaned from the initiative.

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Pastors thrive when they have wise companions.

Pastors dedicate their whole selves to the work of caring for the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of a congregation, sometimes finding themselves isolated from peers, mentors and exemplars. Pastors need wise companions for the ministry journey who understand their challenges and frustrations. Thriving in Ministry is committed to cultivating a culture of mentoring.

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Pastors thrive when they have agency.

Pastors thrive when they are empowered to take an active role in shaping their ongoing formation. Thriving in Ministry projects walk alongside pastors as they develop friendships and a sense of belonging, hone critical ministerial practices and habits in the early years of ministry and at moments of transition, and seek renewal, reflection and rest.

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Pastoral Leader Films

Listening to Pastors

Six Thriving in Ministry pastoral leaders share their ministry experiences, highlighting the importance of mentoring relationships and connection to peers.

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Lilly Endowment Inc. 2018 Annual Report

Circles of Friends

Through this national initiative, grants have been made to 103 organizations to help clergy support one another in the pursuit of excellence in their congregational ministries.

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Reflections & Research

Explore what we are learning about thriving for pastors and the projects that support them


Helping pastors flourish

Pastors who implement practices like prioritizing their mental health or nourishing friendships flourish in their careers, the Duke Clergy Health Initiative found.

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Sustainability & Wellbeing

Increasing pastoral agency

Pastors operate in highly complex social systems, and even with formal authority may not feel empowered to lead change. The key to building their sense of agency is to build trust among stakeholders and cultivate habits of care, writes Leadership Education’s executive director.

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Evaluation as ministry

Yes, many people think evaluation is a chore. But done right, it can be an astonishingly effective tool in building excellent ministry, writes the director of a Youth in Theology and Ministry program.

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Bi-Vocational, Female Clergy

A future with more bivocational ministers

With collaboration and clear communication, bivocational ministry can be an opportunity to innovate and thrive, says a professor and counselor for ministers.

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