A pastor’s ministry will never be stronger than his marriage. This is why I have been looking across the U.S. for the best retreats and intensives for ministry couples. LifeWay considers these ministries as partners, not competitors, in the fight for healthy ministry marriages.

Marriage Retreats

I found several marriage retreats, but only a few which focus exclusively on ministry couples. My wife and I have attended and served at six of these marriage retreats, so we are recommending them from first-hand experience.

Dr. David Ferguson and his family have been hosting these gifted retreats for about thirty years and have served 12,000 ministry couples. You will greatly enjoy investing in this time of marriage renewal.

Paul Cowell created this network of discounted lodging for missionaries and pastors (25-50% discounts). His family built the Whitestone Inn near Knoxville, Tennessee, which invites missionaries to stay for free and ministers to stay for half price!

Janet and I attended this Family Life couples retreat twenty years ago and sent several groups from our church. Pastor need to check out FamilyLife’s Pastor Scholarship.

Marriage Intensives

Some ministry marriages need more than a retreat because they are in serious trouble. These intensives have saved a lot of marriages and ministries, but they are not quick, easy or cheap. Here are four places where pastors can fight for their marriages:

Therapist-led, intensive counseling for couples and for whole families (Focus on the Family).

They host both marriage retreats and marriage intensives in Colorado Springs. They are resourced primarily by the Mardel family (Mardel family).

Hosts both marriage retreats and intensives in Rome, Georgia. They are resourced primarily by the Cathy family (Chick-fil-A).

All ministry couples can benefit from investing in their marriage by way of a marriage retreat, while others who are more in need of intervention will want to consider clinical counseling or a marriage intensive.                       

Consider Focus on the Family’s PASTOR CARE LINE a “911” number for pastors and their spouses who are in crisis: 844-472-7867. The North American Mission Board financially supports this Focus on the Family care line, which is free and confidential. I personally know these counselors and have seen and heard them work in Colorado Springs. They are available from 8am-10pm (EST).

If you know of an evangelical ministry on either the prevention or intervention side of marriage that you can recommend, please let me know so that I can help spread the word: mark.dance@guidestone.org.


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