When I first began my ministry with the people of Peace in June 2016, it became quickly apparent that we all needed assistance navigating the waters of first call (me) and a new pastor (the congregation).

We met with Linda Staats, our Healthy Start facilitator, for an initial retreat in August, for check-ins in November, February and June, and for a final check-in in September. During that time the congregation and I dealt with a major crisis with our preschool, concern over finances, people resigning from key roles, nervousness regarding involvement of children, youth and families, and an unexpected reaction to a sermon.

Healthy Start not only provided me with an invaluable mentor that I could call and talk through issues and challenges, but a framework for creating healthy patterns and relationship within the congregation. In addition, Linda helped congregational leadership develop clear, focused goals. These goals kept us focused and on track when it would have been easy to go in a million different directions. I honestly don’t know how or if we would have made it through our first year of ministry together without Healthy Start and Linda’s facilitation and mentoring skills. We not only made it through our first year together, we are a healthier, more vibrant and forward looking congregation than I could have ever imagined. We have carried forward many of the practices we learned through Healthy Start, include regular check-ins and goal setting.


Pastor of a congregation engaged in the Healthy Start process, Aug. 2016-Sept. 2017.