On Sept. 23-24, 37 pastors participated in mentor training. Through Pastor Partners – a program offered by Grow in Grace, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s institute for continuing education – seminary graduates are voluntarily paired with a mentor to help them through the first three years of ministry.
Pastors from Alaska to Arizona attended in person, and others joined via Google hangouts from New York, South Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado, Texas, and even Southeast Asia. These mentors are a sounding board, providing a listening ear for new pastors to discuss troubling, difficult, or new situations and ask for prayer and advice. By the third year, mentors can talk about bigger picture items such as a church’s—or pastor’s personal—five- and ten-year plan and helping strengthen the ties to other pastors in the circuit.
Rev. Richard Gurgel, Grow in Grace director and seminary professor, discussed how Pastors Partners can work hand-in-hand with circuit pastors. “A mentor works himself out of a job,” he says, as the mentor guides a mentee through only the first three years of ministry. A circuit pastor cares for every pastor and congregation through their whole time in the circuit.
Rev. Jon Hein, director of the Commission on Congregational Counseling, reminded mentors how important it is for new pastors to have a home life and remember that his wife and family are part of his support system. He also highlighted how Pastor Partners provides support for pastors’ wives so they do not feel left out or forgotten at a new call.
Rev. Tyler Schinnick, who was assigned to Martin Luther, Neenah, Wis., in May, is thankful for the program. “Being a first-time pastor can feel a bit overwhelming at times, since it seems like there are so many things that you could and should be doing. My conversations with John [Qualmann] have helped me take a step back and think clearly about how I can use my time to put myself in the best position to serve God’s people. This fresh perspective has been a blessing to me as I’ve moved into this new role,” he says.
For more information, visit http://wlsce.net/pastor-partners.