When a pastor feels depleted or discouraged, who does he turn to? Who pastors the pastor? In his book, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (2012), Paul Tripp addresses the serious problems of isolation and identity that church leaders face within their church culture. He writes, “There is a debilitating myth that is widely accepted across the evangelical church culture. It is that pastors, being knowledgeable and mature, do not need pastoring. The vast majority of church attenders assume that their pastors are spiritually healthy.” 1 Recognizing their own need for rest, to experience God and find support, pastors recently found an opportunity at Miracle Camp.
Last month, October 1-3, Miracle Camp in Lawton, Michigan, hosted 45 pastors. The 50-acre, wooded property and lake were the ideal setting for pastors to slow down and connect with one another. The Pastor’s Retreat provided a way for Miracle Camp to fulfill its mission since it exists to invest in and serve local churches and their leaders. Tripp’s book, Dangerous Calling, provided inspiration for the retreat.
Beginning on Monday evening, Matt Boyers, senior pastor of Crossroads Evangelical Church, Wauseon, Ohio, reminded church leaders to find rest and refreshment in Jesus. Jonathan Farrell, senior pastor of Grace Church in Morton, Illinois, said, “For the last two years our pastoral team has found this to be a refreshing time away; we’ve appreciated the sessions, with Mike Drury last year and Matt Boyers this year, but we’ve also appreciated the short season of being away, with one another, and spending time with the Lord in the gorgeous setting that is Miracle Camp!”
The retreat setting and programming are designed to support and refresh pastors, but the spontaneous connections between those who attend the retreat create an ongoing, vital network of support. Even though the retreat highlighted rest and communion with Jesus, the Miracle Camp staff realize that people rest in different ways. Each afternoon, they provided activities like archery, a trap shoot, a zip line, and a ropes course.
Whether a pastor finds rest and support at a retreat like this one or elsewhere, churches should encourage their leaders to seek out opportunities to renew their love for Jesus and their calling. Paul Tripp emphasizes this need: “Pastors cannot give to others what they do not have themselves.”
1 Paul David Tripp. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry
(Wheaton: Crossway, 2012): Bonus Chapter, 8.