It has been awhile since I have written a blog post. In the last month alone we have moved into a new home and welcomed a new baby into the world. In the midst of all this (good) busyness, I took a 2-month leave from my doctoral work at Sioux Falls Seminary. Now that things are moving towards a new normal and I am able to focus on some long-term goals, I am back to working on my doctoral work.
As many of you know, the purpose of my current study is creating a vision for small church pastoral ministry that is biblically sound, historically faithful, and practically helpful. A vision of ministry that defines success by faithfulness to God and formation by His Spirit rather than the false success of higher attendance, bigger budgets, and better branding. It is my attempt to speak into the lives of pastors who are serving in small churches and wrestling with the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, failure, and depression due to the “smallness” of their call.
Truthfully, it’s me wrestling with my own soul and pointing myself to the Gospel and the person of Jesus – in the hope that another pastor out there will find encouragement and friendship through this journey of ministry.
As part of this process, I will be documenting much of my learning and reflections here on my personal blog. The first part of this will be a lot of academic research and interviews with various people who follow the Rule of St. Benedict; my goal is to learn how the ancient monastic rule can breathe new life into our ministries in the 21st century (in a way that is relevant and practical – not just nerdy). This will culminate in me creating a “Rule” or curriculum for pastoral ministry and spiritual formation for pastors in small churches.
The second part of this project will be creating a cohort of small church pastors who I can journey with for about a year. This cohort will study the Rule of St. Benedict and ancient spiritual formation alongside of me; seeking to apply the principles to each of our ministry contexts. I will be measuring the spiritual, physical, and emotional health of each of these pastors at the following times: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, 10 months, and 12 months. Our hope is that we would see an increase in health for these pastors’ ministries and families as a result of this process.
Eventually, all of this will be detailed into a dissertation that will eventually earn me my Doctorate (hopefully this will all be done within the next 3 years). Finally, I am hoping this research and dissertation – alongside of my mentors at Sioux Falls Seminary – will connect me with a publisher (such as IV Press) to write a book and curriculum that will be academically strong and practically relevant to encourage small church pastors in their ministries.
I have a lot of work ahead of me so I want to close this post with a quote from the Rule of St. Benedict and strive to live accordingly:
“And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it…”
I am asking all of you to join me in prayer. If you keep a regular list of prayer requests, please pray for the wisdom, discernment, and strength I need to complete this project for God’s glory and the good of His Church. Thank you!