Dissertation Projects DMin

Date of Award


Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Larry R. Evans

Second Advisor

John Duroe

Third Advisor

Timothy Nixon


Problem. As Seventh-day Adventist conferences receive beginning pastors into the field from colleges and seminaries or those who have made a change in career, the ministerial secretary is charged with overseeing their paths toward ordination. But the conference ministerial secretary faces several challenges that must be addressed such as visiting all the pastors in the field, driving long distances to personally meet pastors, and arranging time with the pastors. If deliberate and intensive mentoring is not fostered, no support will be felt by beginning pastors. Furthermore, the pastors are accountable to several entities, including the conference administration, the local church, their spouses, and of course to God. The problem is likely to develop where the beginning pastor is experiencing solo ministry with minimal training in preparation for ordination. Additionally, a weak economy has restricted conference personnel from placing beginning pastors in mentoring, supervision, or intern positions. Furthermore, include the fact that many senior pastors have been unwilling to add the responsibility of training a beginning pastor to their agendas. The question then becomes, how will beginning pastors receive pastoral mentoring unless someone guides them? Attention needs to be given by a pastor of experience—who will walk beside the beginning pastor.

Method. A group of eight beginning pastors in the Indiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists volunteered as the candidates for this pilot project to participate in the formation of a model for nurturing beginning pastors. For six months beginning pastors participated in a one-hour monthly meeting for building a mentor relationship with the ministerial secretary. This was a time of sharing experiences, asking questions, reflective listening, addressing challenges, and praying together. Local church issues were addressed by the beginning pastor and the ministerial secretary. These six sessions provided a context for the beginning pastor to experience live application of the mentoring model. An exit interview was conducted after six months of relationship-building with each of the eight beginning pastors. This exit interview included starter questions that the ministerial secretary asked. Data from these interviews was used to determine if growth occurred during the mentoring process. The interview sessions with the eight beginning pastors was completed during September 2011.

Results. The beginning pastors responded that the presence of a mentor to discuss “live” church situations provided the support they needed to empower their pastoral ministry. Face-to-face conversations developed trust as the beginning pastor and ministerial secretary identified with one another through their storytelling journeys. This identification factor became crucial to developing a trust throughout this mentoring relationship. The beginning pastors and ministerial secretary prayed together, studied mentoring together, and dialogued regarding church matters. Beginning pastors acknowledged that a mentoring relationship takes time to develop. However, as the dialog proceeded in the one-hour sessions, it was necessary to keep the time focused in order to meet the various individual schedules of the group. From this mentoring project the beginning pastors and ministerial secretary experienced a) accountability by their session attendance; b) empowerment from grasping the perspective of Clinton and Stanley’s Constellation model and their three mentoring functions (intensive/occasional/passive) continuum (See Appendices C and D); c) the necessity of evaluation after acknowledging the need for mid-course revisions during the six sessions; d) motivation and vision to transfer the mentoring model to themselves as well as lay church leadership, peer pastors, and youth; e) mentor and mentee initiative by acknowledging the benefit of pursuing partners with special competencies; f) mutual learning from discussions and storytelling; g) listening by the ministerial secretary as the beginning pastors shared their concerns; h) reflection by contemplating the application of mentoring principles in their context; i) an understanding of succession leadership by expressing a desire to implement mentoring training in local churches; j) the contribution of structure that kept the six sessions organized; and k) the incarnational model of faceto-face presence as mentoring partners for six monthly sessions. The eight beginning pastors and the ministerial secretary collected the above insights from their mentoring relationship by sharing experiences and discussing Connecting, the book by Clinton and Stanley (1992).

Conclusions. When evaluating the six monthly sessions, this writer noted that a mentoring relationship flourishes with a) increasing trust levels, b) quality and quantity time investment, c) respect for one another’s competencies, d) partner accountability, e) reflection during and following the sessions, f) a mutual learning attitude, and g) intentional listening skills. These factors foster a successful mentoring relationship for the mentor-mentee covenant, usually six to 18 months. A mid-course evaluation might have improved the sessions with the beginning pastors. Additional communication, intentionality, reviews, and planning could have determined how much structure was necessary. However, the beginning pastors gave positive responses to a) the praying together, b) listening to family and church life stories, c) the book dialogue, and d) relationship building. By a) exploring OT and NT mentoring models, b) reviewing secular and religious authors’ mentoring models, and c) investing six monthly sessions with beginning pastors, it became evident that beginning pastors need an incarnational model, a presence with whom they can identify. That presence may include a) the Ministerial Secretary of the Indiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, b) peer pastors in the Indiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists with needed mentoring competencies, c) community mentors in Indiana Conference’s territory who can be contemporary “guides by the side,” or d) all of the preceding partners. The presence of such mentors willing to come along beside the mentees might be called paracletes who extend the Holy Spirit’s ministry.

Subject Area

Mentoring in church work, Clergy--Indiana--Training of

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