September 2022 Newsletter

2021-2022: Reflections from Our Third Cohort

Director, Dr. Trisha Wheelock

During the May Celebration event, Moses pastors complete a final interview with Grand View faculty. This data along with information from their initial interview is compiled into a comprehensive cohort report. This reflection is an important part of program evaluation and a way for us to make changes, adjust curriculum, and maintain focus. The report offers us valuable insight into the strong work of the Moses Project, the ways our pastors are growing, implementing new ideas, and the key areas where pastors struggle, and we can provide care. The following summary highlights essential takeaways from the 2021-2022 cohort: ​

Strengths in rural ministry:

  • Rural roots—growing up in a rural context or having previously lived in a rural setting was beneficial to help them connect quickly and efficiently. It helped build trust and have a common language. Even those who didn’t grow up in a rural setting understand the importance of connection. For example, one pastor “helped separate the cows from the calves” as a way to build relationship with a congregant.

  • Deep love for the people—A common theme was love and care for the people of their congregation. One pastor said, “I think they needed someone to just come in and love them for who they are and not ask, not demand change of them.”

  • Strong skills in preaching and teaching—Many of the pastors love teaching and see themselves as strong messengers. One said, “I feel like I have a gift of translating theology into a way that people can understand.”

  • Relationships with congregants –listening to people and hearing their stories; easy connection is part of the job they really enjoy.

  • Personal attitudes and skills—Pastors bring energy, ideas, and organization to their ministry. They also identify hospitality and empathy as gifts.

Along with their strengths, pastors identified challenges: 

 

Challenges in rural ministry:​

  • Adapting to rural life

  • Understanding expectations of a call

  • Navigating boundaries

  • Managing value conflicts

  • Responding to difficult congregations

  • Ministry to dying churches

In addition strengths and weaknesses, the report details what pastors hoped to get by participating in the Moses Project: 

  • Build community

  • Clarify the call

  • New strengths as a rural pastor

  • Changes in perspective about rural ministry challenges

 

This list of what pastors hope to get from the project highlights their needs and concerns. 

The report listed a few other interesting data points:

  • 9 pastors raised in urban or suburban

  • 7 grew up rural

  • 11 ministry was a second career

The 2021-2022 cohort was a joy to get to know and work with. Upon completing the program, pastors told the evaluators, “My sense of joy has returned," and “It was a regular refreshment and thing I can look forward to.”

 

We take pride in helping pastors build community and watching them THRIVE. At the end of their 10 month commitment, all 20 Moses pastors were still serving in ministry.