FTMC: Fieldwork; An Introduction

Fieldwork is the third portion of the Interim Ministry Network’s basic education for transitional ministry. Fieldwork provides an opportunity to apply what you have learned from FTML and FTMC in combination with your life and ministry experiences; sense of call to transitional ministry; and your professional instincts. Fieldwork is intended to focus on a specific situation in your regular work.

In Fieldwork, you chose a project: a part of your work involving some needed change. The project should relate to one of the five Process Tasks, (covered in the three-day class) or one of the five Focus Points (covered in the five-day course).

There is also the element of Colleague Learning Group meetings (usually by phone about 30 days apart) where each person takes their turn presenting their “project.” Descriptions of the project and congregation are sent out by email ahead of time so other Colleague Learning Group members have an overview of your proposal. During the call, colleagues make suggestions, share resources and/or raise questions for you to consider. Regardless of suggestions or critique of your project, you retain control of how the project will be conducted. Each call has an IMN Faculty member present to check on progress, make observations and/or suggestions.

Time will be spent during the FTMC course setting up Fieldwork groups, choosing the date and time of the first call, explaining the process, and answering your questions.

Fieldwork Q&A

Click on the questions below to reveal the answer.

    Q: What if I am not in an Interim situation?

    A: Settled Pastors or those in-between positions can identify a change related project in their regular work, or the congregation they attend.  Another option is serving as a consultant to another congregation or a near by Interim Pastor.

    Q: Is Fieldwork mostly about designing a project or implementing a project?

    A: Both. Different skills are needed for each task. A project well designed but poorly implemented, or a project poorly designed but well implemented will both lack the impact an ably designed and implemented project could offer.

    Q: Suppose I can’t remember all the resources mentioned by my colleague group?

    A: Each colleague who is not presenting is to fill out a form with their observations, ideas, questions and the like.  Those forms will be emailed to you following your presentation.

    Q: How will I know what to share about the project and congregation?

    A: IMN provides forms with specific questions or areas to be covered. When it is your turn to present, you use these forms to send information to your colleague group about two weeks ahead of your presentation.

    Q: Suppose work or health prevents me from attending a scheduled session?

    A: We hope that will not happen, but if it does, you contact the Faculty person working with your group as soon as you are aware of the problem. There is a catch-up process that involves contact with each person who presented that day, and following up with a report. If you are the presenter for that day, additional arrangements will need to be made with the whole group to reschedule your presentation.

    Q: How large are the Fieldwork Colleague Learning Groups?

    A: Generally 5 to 7 (6 is ideal) group members plus the Faculty person. Under special situations the groups may be larger or smaller.

    Q: What do I do when I am not the presenter?

    A: When one of your colleagues is presenting (even if you are also presenting the same day):

    1. Before the call – you will receive and read information about their congregation and project.
    2. During the call you participate with your insights, experience, questions or concerns.
    3. Following the call you send a form that summarizes your comments, concerns or suggestions.

    Q: What about sharing confidential information on my forms?

    A: You may wish to change names of specific individuals. However, the same norm of confidentiality observed when in class sessions is expected during fieldwork.

    Q: How will the feedback process work after I present my project to my Colleague Learning Group?

    A: Before you begin your presentation, your facilitator will invite you to tell the group what type of feedback would be most helpful to you; for example, about content, about method, about style of writing up your findings, about recommendations for more resources, etc.

    Q: Suppose my ministry ends before the project is completed?

    A: This occasionally happens. Your Faculty Fieldwork Supervisor will help you determine how to reshape your Fieldwork, or develop a project for your new setting. In any case it should not prevent you from completing Fieldwork.

    Q: What if I fail Fieldwork?

    A: The only way to fail Fieldwork is to not do it. If you participate in phone calls, develop and implement a project, and fill in and send the forms for each step you will complete fieldwork. Fieldwork focuses on learning: your learning and your colleagues learning together and from each other.