Healthy pastors lead healthy churches. My vision for LifeWay Pastors is based on this conviction, which is why I spent much of last year looking across the U.S. for 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
1-844-4PASTOR — (1-844-472-7867) – 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 first hand experience.
- LifeWay Marriage Retreats – LifeWay hosts marriage retreats by some of today’s most popular Christian speakers and authors. Although these retreats are not specifically for pastors, Janet and I will host special breakout classes for ministry couples on October 7-9, at Ridgecrest, North Carolina.
- 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!
- Timothy + Barnabas Conference – Johnny and Janet Hunt have blessed more than 8,000 ministry couples with instruction and encouragement over the past 20 years. There are several regional retreat options to choose from in resort locations, which are made affordable by corporate sponsors like LifeWay.
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:
- Hope Restored®: A Marriage Intensive Experience -Provides personalized, faith-based, multi-day counseling programs to start couples on the path toward healing. Scholarships are available. (Focus on the Family)
- SonScape Retreats – They host both marriage retreats and marriage intensives in Colorado Springs. They are resourced primarily by the Mardel family. (Mardel)
- WinShape Retreats – 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.
All ministry couples can benefit from investing in their marriage by way of a marriage retreat, while others who are more in need of intervention will want to consider clinical counseling or a marriage intensive. If you know of an evangelical ministry on either the prevention or intervention side of marriage that you can recommend, please let me know so that I can help spread the word: firstname.lastname@example.org or @MarkDance.