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The Congregational Immersion Project

The Congregational Immersion Project

The early years of ministry are critical because they shape future ministry. The Congregational Immersion Project, funded by a grant to the Disciples House from the Lilly Endowment, offers pioneering Disciple students at Vanderbilt a chance to learn while leading in a congregational setting. CIP offers graduates an opportunity to work as a paid, full-time Pastoral Resident in a congregation for two years. Residents work under the guidance of a Pastor-Mentor and a Lay Support Committee.  

The beginning class of Pastoral Residents for CIP was in 2008.  We have placed six Pastoral Residents in excellent Disciple churches in Indianapolis, Montgomery, Kansas City, Seattle, and Hopkinsville. 

Benefits for Residents:

  • You will serve full-time in a healthy congregation with a proven and excellent pastor, with intentional mentoring relationships
  • You will have deliberate time and structure for reflection on the culture of the congregation, the broader community and your role as pastor within these settings
  • You will receive support and loving feedback from a committee of lay leaders
  • You will have ongoing contact with the Project Director and with your colleagues in the CIP 
  • You will have opportunities to share your learning in the Pastoral Residency with fellow students at the Disciples Divinity House through visits and teaching at Wise Practice each May
  • You will be paid a competitive salary with benefits during the two-year Pastoral Residency 

Benefits for Congregations:

  • Churches will be blessed by the creativity and innovative interest of new Pastoral Residents
  • The Pastor-Mentor and congregation will experience renewed enthusiasm, fresh perspective, and deepened insight from teaching and learning with Pastoral Residents
  • Staff from Disciples House will visit with the congregation and its leaders to help get the program up and running
  • The Pastor-Mentor will find collegiality with this opportunity to participate with other Pastor-Mentors and DDH-VDS students in the project
  • Congregation members will share wisdom and faith as they introduce a new generation to congregational ministry
  • Additional ministerial staff will help advance the work of the congregation, financially supplemented by CIP grants

There are a variety of requirements for participation in the Congregational Immersion Project.


  • Must be under care of a region in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); may be ordained before beginning residency
  • Completion of the Master of Divinity at Vanderbilt Divinity School before beginning residency
  • Application and interview with CIP selection committee
  • Complete the on-line search and call application process
  • Placement process with congregation


  • Commitment of the pastor and the congregation’s leadership to the goals and structure of CIP
  • Willingness to invest time, energy and loving guidance in shaping a new pastor's identity and skills
  • Financial support of approximately half of Pastoral Resident’s compensation and benefits

For further information and program details, please contact the CIP Director at 615-321-0380 or by email at

This program is made possible through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.