Where Can Ministry Couples Get Help?
By Mark Dance
Healthy pastors lead healthy churches. I want to recommend the best biblical solutions for a pastor’s life and ministry. With the exception of one, these are not ministries of LifeWay. We consider each of these ministries as partners, not competitors, in the fight for healthy ministers and ministries.
Pastor Care Line
Consider this a “911” number for pastors and their spouses who are in crisis. LifeWay and the North American Mission Board both financially support this Focus on the Family care line, which is free and confidential. I personally know these counselors and have seen and heard them work in Colorado Springs. They are available from 8am-10pm (EST).
Ministry Marriage Retreats
I found several marriage retreats, but only a few which focus exclusively on ministry couples. My wife and I have attended and served at six of these marriage retreats, so we are recommending them from firsthand experience.
Galatians 6:6 Retreats
Dr. David Ferguson and his family have been hosting these gifted retreats for about thirty years and have served 12,000 ministry couples. You will greatly enjoy investing in this time of marriage renewal.
Christian Hospitality Network
Paul Cowell created this network of discounted lodging for missionaries and pastors (25-50% discounts). His family built the Whitestone Inn near Knoxville, Tennessee, which invites missionaries to stay for free and ministers to stay for half price! This video explains how the Christian Hospitality Network serves missionaries and pastors.
Timothy + Barnabas Conference
Johnny and Janet Hunt have blessed over 8,000 ministry couples with instruction and encouragement for the past twenty years. There are several regional retreat options to choose from in resort locations, which are made affordable by corporate sponsors like LifeWay.
Weekend to Remember
Janet and I attended this Family Life couple’s retreat twenty years ago and sent several groups from our church. Pastor need to check out FamilyLife's Pastor Scholarship.
Some ministry marriages need more than a retreat because they are in serious trouble. These intensives have saved a lot of marriages and ministries, but they are not quick, easy or cheap. Here are four places where pastors can fight for their marriages:
National Institute for Marriage
Therapist-led, intensive counseling for couples and for whole families (Focus on the Family).
They host both marriage retreats and marriage intensives in Colorado Springs. They are resourced primarily by the Mardel family (Mardel family).
Hosts both marriage retreats and intensives in Rome, Georgia. They are resourced primarily by the Cathy family (Chick-fil-A).
City of Refuge
Founded by Johnny Hunt and First Woodstock, Georgia, this ministry provides critical care for wounded and fallen ministers, giving them a safe and loving environment in which to rest and heal. The City of Refuge is a long-term residential program that attempts to meet the needs of the minister and his family by providing housing, child care, counseling, and small group support at no cost to the family.
Standing Stone Ministry
This ministry of Family Life offers some intensive weeks 1-on-1 for pastoral couples as well as ongoing mentors and confidants for pastors.
Mark Dance, D.Min. has been the Director of LifeWay Pastors since 2014. Mark and Janet live in Nashville and have two grown children, Holly and Brad. Mark was the pastor of Second Baptist Conway from 2001-2015. Connect with Mark on Twitter, Facebook or his markdance.net.
*This article is used with permission.