August 2009

Coming off of a fast-paced summer has always been part of my ministry experience–from youth ministry, to missions, to serving the church as pastor. This year has been no different.  We hit the ground running by taking a “vacation” in late June to help celebrate my parents 50th (congrats again, mom and dad), followed almost immediately with a gruelling, but energizing, week of Vacation Bible School; then a mission trip to Madison, WI, where our work was not exactly as we expected (for the uninitiated, this is common when taking mission trips). The Blushing Bride and I were ready for a moment of pause, a rest.

We knew ministry was like this when we started. We both grew in preachers’ homes. So, we purposefully scheduled a retreat with Shepherds’ Haven of Rest (SHOR) Ministries. We’d been looking forward to it for nearly a year now. Before I describe the days with SHOR, let me point you to Paul Littleton‘s post that highlights the need for this ministry to exist.

So, here’s the scoop. About 8 years ago, Charlie and Suzanne Grigsby (Charlie was the Bride’s pastor when we got married), stepped out on an endeavor to “keep healthy pastors healthy.” What they discovered in the process of the first year or two was the kind of hurt that leads to the statistics Paul is quoting. And so was born SHOR Ministries. Through this venue, the Grigsbies (along with partners in the ministry) have been conducting approximately 20 (give or take) retreats of 3 to 5 days a year.

The week before my 46th birthday, grandparents took our three offspring and kept them at a condo (thanks again Mom & Dad) while the Blushing Bride and I hustled off to a serene setting to unwind.

Here’s what we encountered: four other couples (a total of five pastors and their wives) in a luxurious setting overlooking Table Rock Lake (just outside of Branson, MO), and our hosts (the Grigsbies) ready to serve us. Our responsibilities for the week: 1) find childcare so we could attend, 2) provide our own transportation, 3) relax.

Here’s the catch — participants were asked to enjoy the evening meal (served around 6:00 each evening) with each other, fellowshiping around the table, AND set aside about one hour (it turned into a bit longer, especially since we had a connection with our hosts) during the week to visit with Charlie and Suzanne and allow them to pray for us. All lodging — we spent the week sleeping in a bed that sported Wayne Newton’s headboard — and meals were provided, without charge. There was no set agenda, there was not special “teaching time”.

I got to spend some special time with my Bride, was able to begin work on a fiction that I’ve been trying to start for almost two years, and just plain refresh.

If you are a pastor/minister, I would suggest that you would do a great service for your spouse, your family, and your church by signing up for an upcoming retreat (space is limited at each of their locations — five couples was the limit at the house in Branson that used to be owned by Wayne Newton). If you are a conscientious church member, you should suggest such a retreat for your pastor.  I cannot emphasize any more enthusiastically that taking a retreat that takes you away from doing ministry or learning about the latest ministry techniques is just what is needed in a climate that chews up preachers and spits them out.


Several years ago a group of young(ish) Southern Baptist pastors/leaders got together to use the new(ish) technology of the blogosphere to voice concerns about the SBC. Certainly they were able to raise the bar on how Christ followers think about affecting our world. That project took some twists and turns that made it become, well, “ish”.

So they moved on, stepping back from the political fray that is the SBC but keeping a presence in the blogosphere. Some of these guys I know personally, and others have become my friends through the electronic medium. All of them have forced me to think about my faith and the practice of it. And now it’s time for their collective missional voice to try to challenge our thinking once again.

I for one will be trying to keep up, and you can too by clicking over to I will not guarantee that you will always agree with what is proposed there. I will not guarantee that you will even want to read what they have to say. I will promise you that you will be forced to think about what you believe. And maybe you’ll be challenged to grow.