About the Wellness Project
The Wellness Project @ Wycliffe is a long term research study and assessment tool aimed at better understanding the ups and downs of ministry life. More specifically, our goal is to gain insight into the aspects that are particularly stressful and especially satisfying, and how these “stressors” and “satisfiers” interact to impact the experience of ministry life.
In this project we are asking participants to complete a set of questionnaires, after which they will have the option to receive a Ministry Life Assessment and Discernment (MLAD) Report. They will also be invited to have a conversation with a member of our team about this report. Given that this is a long term study, we will be asking those involved to participate again at regular intervals. That being said, participation is entirely voluntary, and those who participate at one point in time are not obligated to participate at a later date.
We are looking for individuals who are currently active in a church or community-based ministry setting, including those who are chaplains serving in schools, prisons, hospitals or the military.
At this point in time, we are not including:
- Individuals who have left ministry life and are now engaged in a different career
- Retired individuals who are no longer active in ministry life
History of the Project
The Wellness Project began nearly ten years ago when, at the invitation of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, Dr. Wanda Malcolm began exploring experiences of stress and resilience among clergy. Two observations she made during that research became central to the structure of our current project.
First, it seemed that for many people, the things they found highly stressful in ministry were also connected to their greatest sources of satisfaction. This led Dr. Malcolm to consider the complexities of thriving in ministry as not simply a matter of avoiding stress, but also identifying and celebrating satisfaction.
Secondly, Dr. Malcolm began to wonder what role frequency plays in contributing to both stress and satisfaction; how often does someone need to engage in something they enjoy for it to serve as a buffer against stress? Similarly, is it possible that something moderately stressful but frequent might have a greater impact on our stress levels than highly stressful but rare events?
As a result, the Wellness Project @ Wycliffe examines both the intensity and frequency of those aspects of ministry life that may contribute to life-giving and life-eroding experiences. We explore this through a series of online questionnaires specifically designed for those engaged in vocational Christian ministry.
We continue to listen to our participants and adjust the content of our surveys based on both anecdotal and statistical feedback.
Meet the Team
Dr. Wanda Malcolm directs and is the Principal Investigator. She is a professor at Wycliffe College, and a registered clinical psychologist who has been involved in social science research for over 15 years.
Beth Fisher Adams is the Project Manager. She has an undergraduate degree in English Literature, completed her M.Div. at Wycliffe College (2016), and is currently a PhD student at Emmanuel College. She began working on the project in 2015.
Karen Coetzee is our Statistics Specialist. She has an undergraduate degree in Educational Psychology and an M.A. in Developmental Psychology and Education, specializing in assessment and measurement. She has been working on the project since 2014.
Our Feedback Consultant Team also includes: Arlene Stiles, a retired psychotherapist; Fawna Andrews, a social worker and registered psychotherapist; and Ken Burton, a leadership specialist with Focus on Leadership.
Ministry Life Assessment & Discernment Tool
Individuals who participate in the research and development project are offered the opportunity to receive a confidential and personal Ministry Life Assessment and Discernment [MLAD] Report. The MLAD Report is valuable for ongoing self-awareness and vocational discernment, and provides information about the following questions:
- What is building you up?
- What are your core satisfiers?
- What is bringing you down?
- What are your core stressors?
- Where are some of the ‘gaps’ showing up?
- What does your pattern of satisfaction and stress look like when they are brought together?
Along with this report, participants have the option to have a one-on-one conversation about their MLAD report with a trained member of our team. This conversation, usually around an hour in length, allows the participant to explore the connections between the data on the page, and the particulars of their ministry life in a confidential and professional setting.
These one-on-one conversations add an extra dimension of insight, as we can explain graphs and numbers in greater detail and answer questions about how an individual’s personal report compares with overall averages and trends. These conversations also insure that our interpretation of the data accurately reflects participants’ ministry life experience, and that we are not losing sight of what is most important about the ups and downs of ministry life.
Please note that under no circumstances will an MLAD Report be provided to anyone other than the person whose data it contains.
Resources for Replenishment
We currently offer:
- Research & Development Updates
- Group / Team Profiles
- Workshops / Retreats
In addition to individual MLAD Reports, we are able to create customized resources for group learning and exploration. If a particular church or organization has a minimum of 10 participants in the project, we can create a group profile which maintains individual anonymity while looking at some of the team trends.
Dr. Wanda Malcolm is also available for retreats, conferences, and workshops on a variety of topics connected to this project.
As our capacity continues to grow, we plan to offer regular research updates through our website and via email, and will begin to blog on books, events, and other resources to help sustain wholehearted engagement throughout a life of faithful ministry.
“This was an insightful exercise and a wonderful experience. I think this wellness project is an invaluable resource for clergy looking to better understand the impact of ministry on their lives with an aim to develop better self-care practices.”Research Participant
“I decided to participate in the Wycliffe Wellness Project to help with what I feel is an important, but often neglected aspect of ministry: clergy wellness, and in doing so have received the unexpected gift of a dedicated team committed to the project who have graciously provided me with input into my ministry that has affirmed areas of health and opened my eyes to areas that may need prayerful consideration. This project has reminded me that in order to serve over the long haul, ongoing attention to personal health is essential.”Research Participant