The Jordan Project

The Jordan Project will ignite new life and innovation into women-led rural and small-town congregations across the Midwest in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and other full communion partner denominations. Pastors and leaders from their congregations will explore their congregations’ rapidly changing social and cultural contexts, gain clarity about their values and mission, and draw on Lutheran theological practices and traditions to adapt their ministry to the demands of their changing contexts. With this knowledge and the skills to engage, pastors and their congregational leaders will be prepared to lead thriving congregations that experience a renewal of anticipatory joy, an ethos of “why not? Let’s give it a try!”, and personal, communal, and public witness to the love of God found in Jesus that will thrill the heart again.

The Jordan Project has three goals:

1. Provide radical hospitality. We will love well by creating space for pastors and congregational leaders to experience God’s grace anew in community, to be vulnerable in their weariness, joy, dreams, deepest callings, and pain, to bear witness to the work of God we see in each of them, and to encourage by speaking courage, hope, and audacious faith into them. For congregations to thrive, they need to be poured into.

2. Equip pastors and congregational members with opportunities to explore the congregation’s history, values and mission. Remembering who they have been helps identify values and better prepare and plan for the future. Values lead vision, and when congregations have a clear sense of identity, they can adapt to changing contexts while exhibiting clarity about their values.

3. Walk alongside congregations as they innovate. After congregations reflect on their history, values, and mission, they will engage in a community-based project that reflects their congregational values and meets the needs of their community’s changing social and cultural context. Throughout the project, the Jordan Project will provide guidance as congregations cultivate Christian practices as they take their next faithful steps in ministry and service.

Apply Now for the 2024-25 Cohort

Start Dates: August 12-14

Project Celebration in Des Moines: May 12-13, 2025

Schedule of Activities:

Note: This schedule is subject to change at the discretion of the Director and Coach.

September

The Jordan Project Kicks off in August with a three day in person event for pastors. After the Kick Off, each pastor will recruit three to five congregational leaders who are called and empowered to be part of the project.

1. Pastor and her congregational team meet.

Theme: Remembering session— Who was the church? What were the church’s values? The congregation is encouraged and empowered to remember the past and their history. Like Joshua and the Israelites do in Joshua 4, the community takes intentional time to pause and reflect on the history of God’s work in the congregation. The Jordan Project will provide support materials for these sessions; each congregation will receive a hospitality box to open together during the session with material, instructions, a devotion, and small hospitality gifts designed to engender community and faithful practice.

2. Whole cohort meets via Zoom

October

1. Pastor and her congregational team meet.

Theme: Who is the church now? What is the church’s future? What are the community’s needs? Interview a community leader who can speak to the community’s current and future needs. How has the church and community’s social and cultural context changed? Materials and hospitality box provided by Jordan Project.

2. Coach Sarah meets with each pastor/congregational team via Zoom.

November

1. Pastor and her congregational team meet.

Theme: What is the congregation’s vision moving forward? How can the church listen to God’s leading and meet needs in new and vibrant ways? Using the idea of traditioned innovation and the information gathered from the interview, the church will write a vision statement capturing the history of the church, reflecting the church’s current vision, capacity, and gifts, and planning to meet the needs of the community going forward.

2. Whole cohort meets via Zoom.

December

1. Coach Sarah meets with each pastor/congregational team via Zoom

Individual Pastor only Zoom available monthly for support and encouragement.

January

1. Pastor and her congregational team meet.

Theme: Identify a community need and write a proposal for a congregational project. Using the vision statement, the church’s history, and the community’s needs, after prayer and with the Spirit’s guidance, select a project. Write a budget, assign tasks, and delegate the work. Congregations will use an asset-based community development model, looking toward innovative, creative partnerships that maximize the resources and gifts that already exist. The Jordan Project will provide support materials for these sessions; each congregation will receive a hospitality box to open together during the session with material, instructions, a devotion, and small hospitality gifts.

2. Whole cohort meets via Zoom.

February

1. Pastor and her congregational team meet.

Theme: Pray. Revise proposal as needed and proceed with tasks.

2. Coach Sarah meets with each pastor/congregational team via Zoom.

March

Receive seed money and begin implementation. Each congregation will receive $500 to help defray costs and energize the project.

1. Whole cohort meets via Zoom.

April

1. Pastor and her congregational team meet. 

2. Coach Sarah meets with each pastor/congregational team via Zoom. Coach Sarah will check in with the congregation and begin collecting material and data to assist with the final gathering in May.

May
1. Project Celebration in Des Moines. Whole cohort of pastors and congregational leaders travel to Grand View. With the assistance of Coach Sarah and program director, each congregation will share their ministry project and how it reflects the congregation’s history, values, and community needs.
Sara Anderson
Title: Associate Director of the Jordan Project
Dept.: Campus Ministry
Office: Luther Memorial

Dr. Trisha Wheelock
Dr. Trisha Wheelock
Title: Director of Faith Life and Director of the Moses Project
Dept.: Campus Ministry
Office: Luther Memorial

Rev. Sarah Ciavarri, M.Div., BCC, PCC, CDTLF
Title: Director of Learning Strategy and Executive Coach 

Read Rev. Ciavarri's Bio
Rev. Sarah Ciavarri, M.Div., BCC, PCC, CDTLF, is thrilled to be part of the Jordan Project because she loves seeing leaders and congregations get excited about their mission. Sarah is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, a Board Certified Chaplain, and a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation. For twelve years Sarah has traveled nationally keynoting and facilitating workshops on resilience, vulnerability, and shame. She’s received several grants recognizing her work exploring shame and vulnerability in church contexts. Sarah is the author of Find Our Way to Truth: Seven Lies Leaders Believe and How to Let Them Go and serves as Vice President of Spiritual Life for a large senior healthcare organization in Minneapolis, MN. Sarah is a graduate of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN where she was a Presidential Scholar.