Ministry retreats offer opportunities for growth

About 160 pastors and wives met in San Antonio, Texas, April 3–5, for the annual Celebration of Ministry retreats. Hosted by Grow in Grace, the institute for continuing education at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., these retreats offer Bible study, workshops, and plenty of opportunities to interact with fellow classmates for pastors celebrating 3, 10, 25, and 35 years since graduating from the seminary.

That interaction is a pivotal part of the retreats. “No one can understand the joys and challenges of ministry and be able to encourage you in that ministry as someone else experiencing the same things,” says Rev. Brad Wordell, director of Grow in Grace.

Rev. Michael and Rachel Hartman, who serve in London and the United Kingdom, attended the retreat as part of the 25-year celebration group. “I very much appreciated the Bible studies directed toward the ministry milestone we were celebrating,” says Rachel. “It was a neat chance to reflect on the past and look to the future, remembering God’s promises and the confidence he gives us in our daily lives to keep moving forward.”

Outside of opening and closing worship, the groups met separately, concentrating on topics that affect them at that particular time in their ministry. This year, for the first time, they also all gathered for cross-generational, round-table discussions. “The younger generation could hear how the Lord has blessed those who have been in ministry a long time, how he has done his saving work through them, and how he carried them through difficulties,” says Wordell. “Those who are older were also blessed to see the gifts and the zeal of the younger pastors and their wives and to have the peace of knowing that God is continuing to raise up faithful servants for our churches.”

These retreats are just one part of the continuing education offered through Grow in Grace. The institute also provides a formal continuing education program, resources such as articles and newsletters, and a mentoring program for new seminary graduates. “God’s Word doesn’t change, but the world that we live in changes and how ministry gets done changes,” says Wordell. “We want pastors who are continuing to learn and to grow.”

The retreats offer that opportunity, along with a chance to unplug and reflect. “You can see it on their faces that this is a blessing to them,” says Wordell. “It’s an uplifting retreat that sends pastors and their wives back to their congregations with a renewed zeal to do what God has called them to do.”

Learn more about Grow in Grace.


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