The First Season Project

The First Season Project

The purpose of the First Season Project is to strengthen the life and leadership of local congregations by accompanying and supporting new pastors during their transition into ministry after seminary.

The First Season Project supports new pastors, both young and second-career, in the first 3-5 years of their transition into ministry following seminary. Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis sponsors the First Season Project. The Project is made possible through support from Lilly Endowment Inc.

We encourage you to explore the program, and to reach out if you have questions or an interest in applying.


We are delighted you are exploring joining this community of learning and practice. Below you will find information to help your discernment and to make application.


The First Season Project is open to pastors (1) of any age (2) who have completed their seminary studies in 2017 or later, and (3) who were ordained in the past three years. Preference will be given to people who are currently serving in the Midwest and Upper South regions of the United States.

Commitments of Applicants include:
  • A desire to engage your transition into ministry in ways that will establish sustainable, life-giving patterns for all the seasons that follow
  • An eagerness to join with new pastors and seasoned FSP leaders to create an environment of learning, reflection, support, and care
  • Participation in 6 retreats over a three-year period
  • Willingness to approach your congregation, along with the FSP Director, to receive your congregation’s support to participate in the 6 retreats
  • Willingness to travel to and from the retreats at your own expense. FSP will cover the costs of lodging, meals, materials, and any other retreat-related expenses.

If you are interested in receiving application materials, please send a letter of interest and a resume to the FSP Director, Dr. Bill Kincaid, at


The name “First Season Project” comes from the recognition that a pastoral career includes several distinctive seasons. Some describe a pastor’s journey as winding through the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Others capture the seasons of a pastor’s life and work simply as early, mid- and late career.

This initiative is for new pastors who are entering their “first season” after seminary, those critical years of transition and evolution in pastoral identity and practice, when pastors encounter new challenges, entertain unexpected questions, and begin to establish patterns that either will enhance or inhibit the ministry of their future seasons.

First Season Project (FSP) participants participate in 6 retreats over a three-year period. These three-day retreats create space for participants to engage material from Dr. Bill Kincaid’s book, Like Stepping Into A Canoe, share in local immersion experiences together, discuss best ministry practices, join in prayer and other spiritual disciplines, and cultivate supportive, collegial friendships with other new pastors and seasoned pastoral leaders. Ongoing support and connection will be facilitated in between retreats.