And when I was at my lowest place in pastoral ministry, my church did a very good thing. They sent my wife and me to Marble Retreat.
Marble Retreat is an eight-day intensive program for hurting church leaders located 8,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado. My wife and I went there in December, 2000. The program takes just four ministry couples at a time. Each couple gets a room in this amazing, beautiful lodge. Each day’s schedule includes free time, group therapy, and individual therapy led by professional Christian counselors. My wife and I were blessed to be there when Dr. and Mrs. Louis McBurney led the therapy sessions. Louis and Melissa founded Marble Retreat in 1974. Dr. McBurney is now at home with the Lord.
The three goals of Marble Retreat are:
- To allow each participant to safely unburden the hurts and pressures of life and ministry.
- To assist each person to understand him/herself more completely as their life patterns have developed.
- To encourage and enable development of new levels of self-acceptance as well as more effective relational skills.
I went to Marble wondering how in the world I would survive in ministry. I was confused, angry, and humiliated. I felt like a failure. But Marble Retreat gave me renewed hope that my life of ministry was not over. I returned to my church with a much better grip on my identity in Christ, my giftedness for ministry, and my next steps. It was due to my experience at Marble Retreat that I took a new direction as a pastor. Here I am fourteen years later, still reaping the benefits of the decisions my wife and I made at Marble. Oh, and our marriage was restored as well.
Another benefit of Marble Retreat is the friendships you make. I still keep in touch with two of the three couples we met at Marble. One couple had just lost their son in a tragic car accident. One of the other pastors had just been booted out of his church because of pornography addiction. The other couple was in a similar crisis. As for me, I was just ready to quit.
All eight of us were broken when we arrived. We were still broken at the end of the program, but the pieces were beginning to be put back together again.
Please. If you’re a hurting church leader, check out Marble Retreat. Scholarship aid is available. Go.