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Where do pastors turn when they need pastoral care, specialized counseling, or simply a safe place to talk? LEADERSHIP asked counselors Wes and Judy Roberts to list existing ministries they knew of. While not a complete list (we'll try to offer an expanded list in the future), this is a starting place. You'll want to inquire about theological orientation, educational qualifications, counseling approach, and other issues prior to deciding which resource best meets any specific need.
It almost always begins with a phone call, often late at night.
"Have I reached the ministry that helps pastors in trouble?"
"Sorry to be calling so late. I just finished talking to my cousin in Arizona. He said you've been supportive of his pastor and church there. He asked me to call you now. I'm at the end of my rope."
With that he broke down and cried.
"I came home from our church board meeting tonight to find my wife gone. She left a note on our bed saying she couldn't take the pressures of the ministry anymore and was leaving me and the kids. A baby-sitter was here taking care of the children. I don't know what to do next. I'm sure the church will want my resignation."
Another call, another day, went like this:
"I'm going to be in Colorado next week for a conference. Could I meet you for a meal? My district superintendent says I need to talk to you."
At breakfast several days later, he said, "I ran into a man from our church last week. He was going into an adult video shop. I was coming out. This has been a lifelong pattern for me. I need help."
Then there was the pastor who emotionally caved in to the relentless expectations of his board.
And the missionary couple who couldn't convince their superiors on the field, or in their home church, that their daughter had been molested.
And the parachurch worker who hadn't "met her quota of souls" and felt like a failure.
We all know of casualties among our peers. Christian leaders struggle. Where do we turn for them-or for ourselves?
In 1989, representatives of a number of ministries that minister to hurting pastors met to compare notes and concerns. We were surprised at the variety of ministries that offer counsel, encouragement, and places of refuge for pastors and spouses and other Christian leaders. Such ministries range from cozy bed-and-breakfast places for rest and renewal to long-term, residential, in-depth therapy. Here's a list of those at that initial meeting. They can be contacted directly for further information.
Post Office Box 37179
Omaha, NE 68137
Assists ministers facing personal and ministry-related problems. Aims to help them strengthen themselves, their ministries, and the life and programs of their churches through personal counseling and encouragement, support groups, workshops, and seminars.
Called Together Ministries
20820 Avis Avenue
Torrance, CA 90503
Ministers to pastors' wives and women in ministry, offering an extensive mail-order resource catalog, a "Listening Line" for telephone peer counseling, referral services, a free newsletter, and retreats, seminars, and conferences.
Center for Continuing Education
Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia
Alexandria, VA 22304
Provides a six-week renewal and growth program for ecumenical clergy. Offered three times a year, this provides a time to come apart from the demands and pressures of ministry for a period of reflection, learning, discovery, and the confirmation and deepening of one's faith.
Charis Renewal Ministries
Ron and Sharon Davis
16431 SE Renton-Issaquah Road
Renton, WA 98056
Offers personal encouragement and renewal of body, emotions, intellect, and spirit. A quiet, comfortable atmosphere for refreshment. Individual and group counseling is available, along with programs for those new to ministry and for those considering dropping out.
Route 2, Box 1022
Roan Mountain, TN 37687
A retreat and vacation setting to which 1,800 Christian leaders came for counseling (or just for rest and relaxation) in 1989. Qualified counselors available upon request.
Kettering Clergy Care Center
1259 East Dorothy Lane
Kettering, OH 45419
Offers professional care and support to ministers, missionaries, leaders, and employees of church organizations and their families. Services available include counseling, crisis-intervention weekends, clergy-burnout prevention, clergy-marriage enrichment, instruction for the boards of congregations, premarital and marital assessment programs, plus a two-week residential clergy training and renewal experience.
The Lake Martin Episcopal Retreat
Route 1, Box 169-M
Tallassee, AL 36078
Geared for couples of all denominations who are seeking to enrich, revive, even re-establish their marriage relationship. A six-day program provides teaching, private ministry with couples, and quality time with spouses. Only four couples at a time attend to insure that personal needs are addressed.
Wes and Judy Roberts
14581 East Tufts Avenue
Aurora, CO 80015
Seeks to strengthen Christian leaders in their relationships at home, in ministry, and in their leisure. This is accomplished through (1) biblical counseling of the wounded leader, spouse, and family at no fee, (2) consulting with the senior leader, board, and staff to strengthen working relationships and clarify vision, and (3) providing places and programs of rest and refreshment for leadership couples.
Link Care Center
1734 West Shaw Avenue
Fresno, CA 93711
A training, counseling, and research ministry for missionaries and pastors. Services include (1) prefield training (language learning, managing cross-cultural differences, and communication maintenance for individuals and families) and (2) restoration programs on a restful campus for Christian workers.
Louis and Melissa McBurney
Marble, CO 81623
An interdenominational center designed for ministers and spouses. Up to four couples come for two weeks of individual and group counseling, which is equivalent to about six months of conventional weekly counseling. Each couple has private accommodations, with meals shared family style in this retreat setting high in the central Rockies.
A Mountain Retreat
Post Office Box 1025
Conifer, CO 80433
A "safe house" and resource for the recovery of ministerial calling, courage, and commitment.
161 Ottawa, NW-Suite 500
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
616/458-6759 or 800/421-8352
Helps pastors and spouses grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally through counseling, seminars, consultation, and week-long retreats. Training for church staffs, and specific help for "pastors in crisis" is available.
Pine Rest Christian Hospital
Ken Ellis, senior staff psychologist
300 68th Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49548
A comprehensive mental health center with a wide range of outpatient, partial hospitalization, and inpatient services.
Recovery of Hope Network and Clergy Care
Stephen K. Wilke
2939 North Rock Road-Suite 100
Wichita, KS 67226
316/636-9256 (in Kansas) 800/327-2590 (elsewhere)
Care is provided through five Mennonite psychiatric hospitals in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Four general areas are addressed: career stress, relational breakdown, emotional difficulties, and self-defeating behavior. Clergy Care services are specifically tailored for church professionals.
Bob and Sandy Sewell
Post Office Box 7777
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
A place of rest, privacy, creative input, and spiritual retreat in the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado. Opportunities for personal sharing and counsel about the red-flag areas of ministry.
Vallecito Pastoral Counseling
19731 County Road 501
Bayfield, CO 81122
Counseling, career assessment, guidance, and consultation for ministers and their families. Located in southwestern Colorado. Therapy and marriage and family counseling is available for such issues as forced resignation, stress, and burnout.
Do you know of others?
If you are familiar with other places and people who offer care specifically to Christian leaders, please write to Wes Roberts, Life Enrichment, 14581 East Tufts Avenue, Aurora, Colorado 10015, with their names, ministry names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Copyright © 1990 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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