The compass guiding our work

Posted Aug 22, 2013 | Pastoral Excellence Network


By Christina Braudaway-Bauman

Old Compass Mascot

Just over a decade ago, a variety of Transition into Ministry (TiM) and Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) initiatives were launched across the country aimed at helping new pastors get a good start in ministry and sustaining and strengthening all pastors over the long haul. Recently, directors and participants in some of these programs came together to articulate the values at the core of these initiatives and to highlight the practices that have grown from these aspirations. This blog post lifts up some of these values. (In the next post, Larry Peers will outline how those values have become embodied in practical terms.)

Core values are the principles and commitments that sit at the center of an endeavor. We picture these ideals as our compass, guiding and directing us through the sea of our work.

Christian faith at the center: As one leader put it, “There is an explicitly Christian depth to what we are doing. Our efforts are grounded in nurturing deep spiritual lives.” We remind ourselves continually that faithful ministry is not just about our work, but about God’s gracious Spirit at work in us. As we lean into this grace, we are able to carry tremendous hope into all we do. Instead of being stymied by problems, we can more clearly see what’s possible. Our striving becomes less anxious, our endeavors more joyful. All our efforts become expressions of gratitude.

A commitment to excellence: Because the work of the church is God’s work, it is worthy of our best efforts. Excellence awakens in us a sense of intentionality about ministry and a spirit committed to discerning prayerfully how best to invest our time and energy. Excellence calls us to bring all our creativity to the tasks of preparing and leading worship, for instance, or attending to pastoral relationships, or being both deliberate and patient in the work of collaboration.

A concern for wholeness: Pastoral ministry is a calling, a way of life. The character of the pastor, the depth of his compassion and the authenticity of her faith matter as much as his or her competence. We speak of forming a pastoral “identity” in which the distinction between the person and the profession fades over time.

A focus on learning: While seminary provides an important foundation, it’s widely recognized that much of pastoral ministry can be learned only by being immersed in its practice. The support of a mentoring community of more seasoned pastors, peers at the same stage of ministry, and generous congregations provide rich opportunities for mutual growth. This learning is a life-long endeavor. As the church faces each new day, it’s the task of each generation to work out innovative expressions of ministry in ways that honor Christian tradition. Inherent in the value of learning is encouragement to take risks and experiment for the sake of church renewal.

A commitment to community: In order to apprehend God’s presence and discern the Spirit’s leading, people of faith need to be together in meaningful ways. We work with the pastoral leaders, not simply to boost their own well-being, but for the sake of their congregations, so that all of us together can more fully serve God’s purposes in the world.

These core values function as a compass for the Pastoral Excellence Network. As you think about your clergy group, your ministry, or your whole life, what would you say are the commitments, the ideals, the aspirations that guide you?

The image displayed in this post is "Old Compass Mascot by lakecurrents, on Flickr" and is used in accordance with Creative Commons licensing.

Christina Braudaway-Bauman is the director of the Pastoral Excellence Network at Christian Theological Seminary.

The Pastoral Excellence Network at CTS seeks to connect and nurture groups for clergy at all stages of ministry. To request permission to repost this content, please contact


  1. 1 Phil Engelman 28 Aug
    I'm curious as to whether any of those associated with Lilly have considered other varieties of grants beside the very specific ones currently in place.  Would a ministry that exists solely for the purpose of keeping clergy healthy and functioning at a high level of ministry have any chance of successfully achieving a grant?   We engage in connecting pastors in small relationship groups to keep them encouraged and to offer them a safe place for peer to peer relationships.  It seems we share the same commitment to sustaining clergy.
  2. 2 Chris Braudaway-Bauman 20 Sep
    The Pastoral Excellence Network is a new initiative formed as a learning network to share the experience, wisdom and practices of Transition into Ministry and Sustaining Pastoral Excellence projects, and to be in conversation with others interested in or engaged in similar efforts. We’re in the process of planning some events in 2014 when some of those conversations
    can take place. Stay tuned.



Blog Archive