Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Josh Sweeden

Second Advisor

Deborah Loyd


Pastors are experiencing an identity crisis. Many are not sure how to process who they are and what they do. While old metaphors for ministry—like shepherd or prophet— do not connect as well with today’s culture, new metaphors—like leader or counselor— are not biblically complete. This identity crisis negatively affecting clergy health and ministry. How can pastors pursue sustainable ministries, based on an identity, that is faithful to the tradition and fruitful in the world today?

Story is a paradigm for ministry that shapes pastoral identity. Pastors benefit from thinking of their ministry in terms of story because it is faithful to tradition and fruitful in the world. Story-thinking is a paradigm for ministry that can create pastoral identity and minimize stress and burnout.

Section One defines pastoral identity and examines the elements that shape identity. It explores the way that metaphor relates to identity, and the impact of the identity crisis on clergy health. Section Two identifies and analyzes the dominant pastoral metaphors of pastor-as-counselor and pastor-as-leader, as well as several others, offering critiques of these images. It concludes by suggesting where these images fall short and what is needed to develop a meaningful pastoral metaphor. Section Three presents the theoretical and theological underpinnings of story as a possible solution. Looking first at how story works, and why stories are so effective, the model of the story pastor is presented and evaluated as a paradigm for ministry. Sections Four and Five contain a book proposal for The Story Pastor. This book will be written to help pastors think about their ministries and identities through the lens of story. Section Six provides a postscript and suggestions for further research.

Included in

Christianity Commons