As the stories here remind us, the path to pastoral ministry is often an uphill one, and many young clergy choose to leave within the first few years of their ministry. But hope is on the horizon. In recent years, the Lilly Endowment-funded Transition into Ministry (TiM) program has provided nearly 400 young clergy with unique opportunities to learn “on the job”—with encouraging results.

In the following pages you’ll find the stories of 13 young pastors—all participants in the TiM program—who are finding their way through those first challenging weeks, months, and years of ministry, those first baptisms, funerals, pastoral visits, and budget meetings, with the wisdom of experienced mentors, the support of the congregations that have invited them into their midst, and the sympathy, enthusiasm, and friendship of peers on their own steep paths to pastoral ministry.

In these stories you’ll read of the doubt, confusion, and struggle—even pain—some of these young clergy have faced on their journeys thus far. You’ll also hear of moments of grace, insight, and inspiration, of a growth in confidence, and of an evolving love these young pastors are developing for their congregations, themselves, and their chosen path.

These are honest stories, courageously told, and they provide a window into these young people’s lives as they move through the process of becoming pastors—of discovering and forming their pastoral identity. Just as birds must break through the eggs that contain them if they are to build the strength they need to live, these young clergy are facing the challenging early days of their ministry head-on and, in the process, are growing stronger and wiser. In essence, they are becoming pastors, and we are privileged to witness their transformation.