Date of Award


Document Type

Project Portfolio

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Kathy Noling, DMin

Second Advisor

Deborah Loyd, DMin


Ministers in small congregations suffer from isolation and a lack of personal and professional relationships that can encourage and equip them for more effective ministry. Ministry in smaller congregations combines the common continuous responsibilities of pastoral ministry in a context in which pastors are often overburdened with competing expectations and demands. Often serving as a solo minister, clergy are isolated in dispersed congregational settings and struggle to find time to participate in supportive relationships with other pastors. Utilizing discovery workshops and numerous qualitative interviews, this project found a nearly universal desire for meaningful relationships between pastors, as well as consistent difficulty in creating and sustaining these relationships. Clergy groups, modeled on the pattern of a community of practice, supported institutionally by equipped facilitators, and leveraging the benefits of virtual meetings spaces, have the potential to help alleviate some of this isolation and contribute to greater pastoral wellbeing.

As the pastor of a smaller congregation, I am keenly aware of the difficulty in creating and maintaining these peer relationships. Working with the denomination I serve in support of other pastors gives me additional insight into the benefits and challenges of pastoral peer groups. Because of the access I have been able to enjoy, this project is designed to be implemented in my current denominational context, although it is easily transferable to other traditions, particularly those that share similar polity with the Church of the Brethren. This project envisions a denominationally supported program of facilitated clergy groups, utilizing virtual meeting spaces in order to make the best use of participant’s limited time. The program will be attentive to the institutional vision, contribute to mission advancement, and through appropriate promotion create reasonable on-ramps for pastors to participate.

Included in

Christianity Commons