Whitworth University, rooted in the Reformed tradition, seeks a four year grant for partial support for a program to support pastors who plant new churches in the Pacific Northwest. Pastors who start new churches often are isolated from colleagues. Church planting requires specific leadership skills, including recruiting members, training lay leaders and establishing a congregation’s governance and infrastructure. The program will create cohorts of new church planters who will meet regularly with mentors for a 12 month period. The cohort members will engage in an initial orientation week, small groups for prayer and bible study, biweekly one-on-one mentor meetings, the annual Whitworth Ministry Summit each summer, as well as a final cohort retreat. To sustain this program, the networks of cohort churches will seek contributions from successful new church starts in the Pacific Northwest that are committed to raising up the next generation of church planters.
Wheaton College Billy Graham Center (BGC), rooted in the Evangelical Protestant tradition, seeks a five-year grant for partial support for its Envision program. This endeavor seeks to encourage pastors to help each other learn to revitalize their congregations through missional and evangelistic engagement and growth, while maintaining a focus on the quality of congregational life. The program will gather pastors into cohorts of six to ten clergy each for peer mentoring, problem solving and mutual support. Particular emphasis in cohort recruitment will focus on younger pastors and on pastors from a diversity context, including under resourced communities. An exemplary pastor, who can mentor and coach, and a BGC catalyst coach, who brings best practices and strategies for congregational growth that have been tested throughout the country, will co-facilitate the cohorts. To sustain this effort, the BGC will seek funding from foundations and invite congregations to contribute to the costs of their pastors’ participation.
Westmont College, a nondenominational Christian college, seeks a five-year grant to create its Frontiers program, an effort to support pastors and help them find communities that will be intellectually and spiritually invigorating. A survey of nearly 800 clergy in the college’s network, conducted in the spring of 2018, helped Westmont identify the needs of two distinct populations of clergy: new and mid-career pastors. The program will serve pastors during the first years of their ministerial careers by widening their vision for their work and strengthening their commitment to the calling of ministry. It also will focus on mid-career pastors who are seeking renewal and wisdom as they consider whether to stay in their current posts or seek new positions at other congregations. In both dimensions, the pastors will have opportunities to meet with mentors and receive advice from experienced clergy through retreats and participation in peer mentoring groups. The program also will host leadership development events, provide clergy with self-reflection experiences and encourage pastors to practice spiritual disciplines. Frontiers will be included in the Westmont’s capital campaign, and the college is committed to raising an endowment for the program.
Western Seminary, affiliated with Conservative Baptist Association of America, seeks a five-year grant for partial support to launch the Center for Pastoral Flourishing program (CPF), an effort to nurture and support the long-term well-being of pastors in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. The program will focus on new pastors early in their service, emerging leaders stepping into larger pastoral leadership roles, mid-career pastors encountering transitions in settings or roles, and seasoned pastors looking to contribute to the emerging next generation. The CPF will identify and intentionally incorporate more pastors into its leadership networks, sponsor forums on leadership practices that foster and sustain flourishing in ministry, form pastors into peer cohorts, produce pastoral leadership resources for personal and group learning, and provide coaching for pastors and congregations. To sustain the CPF, Western Seminary will charge participants a nominal fee and seek funding from partners who share a commitment to strong pastoral leadership.
Wake Forest University, through its School of Divinity, a multi-denominational school rooted historically in the Baptist theological tradition, seeks a five-year grant for the Shared Wisdom for Thriving in Ministry program, an effort to bring together and build supportive relationships among inter-generational cohorts of pastors who serve congregations in multiple contexts. The Wake Forest School of Divinity will work in partnership with the Center for Congregational Health in the Wake Forest Medical Center FaithHealth Division and identify 72 clergy who serve in different ministry contexts (including solo pastors, heads of staff, associate pastors, intentional interim pastors, church planters and bi-vocational pastors). These pastors will be formed into three peer cohort groups. The program will connect each pastor with a pastor-mentor and a clergy-coach, and the pastor peer cohorts will participate in a series of leadership development opportunities led by Center for Congregational Health and divinity school faculty. To sustain this work, the divinity school will fold elements of the program into its doctor of ministry degree and certificate programs, and the Center for Congregational Health will incorporate the work into its ongoing clergy continuing education programs.
Virginia Union University seeks to launch a new effort to help pastors address major personal and professional challenges. Based in its Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology (STVU), the project will provide pastors with holistic self-care, mentorship and collegial relationships, and congregational and community support. STVU will develop peer support groups for pastors, set aside sacred spaces for pastors to engage in reflection and retreats, and build support at the congregational and community levels for pastors to seek out and receive help when necessary.