Dear Ministry Personnel,
We've been in ministry for twenty years. First in Springfield, Mo, where we worked quietly in our church while finishing college and then full time in several churches. Fourteen of those years as the Senior Pastor (and wife). If I could describe our ministry experience over the last twenty years in one word, I would say, "blessed", not because it's been flawless, but because we have had godly men and women investing and breathing truth and light into our lives. I truly believe this, along with God's protective hand, has sheltered us from a world of hurt so common to those in ministry. It's been God's grace all the way.
So, when my husband signed us up to go to Don and Sheryl Rooks's Ministry Conference that specializes in dealing with the stress involved in ministry, I balked. I even told him I didn't need that "touchy feely stuff". Besides I knew that my kids would be at camp the week before the conference and I didn't want to be apart from them that long. Two weeks is a long time in this momma's mind. I also came up with about 200 excuses and actually had hoped that a snake would bite me while I was at my mom's house in Georgia two weeks ago, thinking for sure, that could get me out of this. Yes, I'm so mature.
Well, the snake didn't bite and my sister in law suggested a mini-vacation for the kids and so my excuses and solutions had run dry. So, on Monday afternoon we checked ourselves into the hotel and settled in for a week long waste of time....so said me. I didn't need this.
Sometimes we don't know what we need until we are faced with a few quiet minutes and a crazy person like Don Rooks (and a few of his wise friends) to help us figure things out. Before Monday evening concluded I knew God had something for us at the conference. No, we didn't come in with any major issues, our marriage is good, our kids still love us, we had four great parents, we have dealt with our legalistic upbringings at times in the past, we love our church, we don't have a history of abuse but there was something here for us....So how could this conference help us??? Thanks for asking.
First of all, as stated numerous times by the facilitators of the conference, they would much rather deal in prevention than recovery. The tools on forgiveness and church dynamics that we learned this week will be tools we will implement in our ministry and counseling and our own family. We were reminded constantly that God loves us regardless of our past, present or future choices. No matter what. Who doesn't need to be reminded of that? We gained insight to dealing with our kids, who no matter how much I try to shield them from the hurts of the ministry, they will eventually feel the shrapnel from the explosives that come our way. Not to mention the enormous skill set that was present during each sessions. We learned about paradigms, abuse recovery, church family, hurt, parenting and so much more.
I can think of only one word to describe my attitude and resistance before the conference...PRIDE. And I humbly dare say, it might be what's keeping you from attending one of the conferences. We treated it like a wellness check at the doctor. We let them poke and prod and most of the time it didn't hurt us too bad...but every once in a while something would be said and I'd say "Ouch!" and I'd know that was an area I needed to check out with God. We are all flawed. We all struggle. We all have stuff.
Yes, it's a long week. Yes, it's going to stretch you. Yes, you might realize that you have some stuff to deal with. Yes, you will be stronger when you leave. Yes, you will be more healthy to serve your family and church. Yes, it will be worth every second of the time you spend there. Yes, you will leave encouraged and better equipped to deal with forgiveness, abuse, addictions and other relevant issues in the church.
Now, I'm thankful in the biggest way that I got to attend. I feel more credible and more confident in my calling as a pastor's wife and I love the encouragement Bruce received from godly counsel. In fact, it NOW seems foolish that I'd want a snake bite instead of this (...duh.)
The conference is totally supported by people who love this ministry. I can think of very few ministries that benefit the body of Christ like this one does. So, we need to be throwing our resources its way. Hotel rooms, conference rooms, food, travel, printed materials...these things cost money. Can you support them (message me for more information on that if you're interested)? And might I boldly say, that our fellowship of churches is only fooling themselves if they don't think they need a ministry like this as part of our affiliation. I think anyone who has attended the conference would agree. Our churches are eaten up with dysfunction, abuse, addictions and unforgiveness. This is a tool to fix those debilitating diseases.
Lastly, I'd like to thank the facilitators who selflessly give their time to pour into the lives of others in ministry. These godly men and women were a safe landing place for those who needed to pour their heart and soul out to someone. I have a deep respect for the amazing work they do.