By Chris Moon
Dick Creek has been busy lately—and it’s the result of having knee surgery.
A year and a half ago, he launched The Pastor’s Project, an initiative to help struggling pastors. The effort has grown since then to include a “Rapid Response” ministry for pastors who find themselves in crisis and a “Rural Church Initiative” to connect thriving churches with those that might be struggling, in hopes of sparking a revitalization.
And all of this emerged from the time Creek was stuck in his chair, healing up from knee replacement surgery.
“I had a lot of time on my hands,” he joked.
The Nebraska Christian College (NCC) graduate served in ministry in rural churches before spending years working for the United Way of the Midlands in Omaha, Neb. There, he put together community impact initiatives and helped steer the organization toward national recognition for its groundbreaking work.
But ministry remained on Creek’s mind.
After speaking with Richard Brown, a former associate dean at NCC, Creek launched The Pastor’s Project. The initial aim was to provide help to pastors who may be struggling with a range of issues.
“Basically, pastors have nowhere to go to get help,” Creek said.
He can cite numerous statistics on the sad state of the ministry life. Pastors oftentimes don’t have best friends or close confidants, and holding in their concerns and feelings can lead to depression—and worse.
“With that sense of urgency, I wanted to do something,” Creek said.
The Pastor’s Project now has an advisory council that includes Brown, Manhattan Christian College President Kevin Ingram, Central Christian College of the Bible professor Micheal Curtice, Ozark Christian College professor Terry Bowland, and Tulsa’s Woodland Christian Church pastor Bill Campbell.
In addition, The Pastor’s Project has 25 to 30 pastors and ministry leaders committed to helping pastors and rural churches.
“It’s all volunteers. It’s really pretty awesome,” Creek said.
This month, Creek will be speaking to 10 rural churches in southeast Nebraska about jump-starting their ministries. And later this year, Manhattan Christian College and Central Christian College of the Bible will hold conferences about the rural church that will draw on the expertise of The Pastor’s Project.
Meanwhile, The Pastor’s Project “Connections Mentorship” program connects seasoned pastors with those wanting someone to guide them through some of the rough seasons of ministry—or just to have someone with whom to talk.
Sometimes, Creek said, things can seem to stack up against a pastor.
“It’s just being alone,” he said. “A lot of guys don’t have health insurance. All the things that people who work for a company have, pastors don’t have.”
And in an independent Christian church, sometimes the pastor and the church are reluctant to reach out for help.
“Unfortunately, that’s so ingrained. It’s no longer the Lord’s church. It’s our church,” Creek said.
That’s a mentality that Creek said The Pastor’s Project hopes to break through.