Gordon MacDonald, author, speaker, teacher and pastor for more than forty years, is coming to Chattanooga on March 18 and 19 to participate in “What’s Holding You Back?...a conference for pastors,” designed to encourage pastors and their wives. The event is being co-sponsored by The Generosity Trust and Living Free, two non-profit organizations that have close ties with local pastors and churches.
Organizers said, "Stories about pastors in the news are become all too frequent – and often not in a positive light. On Jan. 11, Terry Greer, a pastor in Alabama, allegedly killed his wife, wounded his daughter and tried to kill himself. Also in January, a pastor’s wife, with roots in Chattanooga, killed herself in a parking lot in Texas. According to the New York Times, 1,500 pastors leave their ministries each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure. Obviously, something’s wrong."
“As I visit with local pastors,” said Patti Harris, Generosity training director for The Generosity Trust. “I get a strong sense that many of them are tired and weary – struggling with the day-to-day challenges of balancing ministry, family, money and relationships. In fact, the idea of “What’s Holding You Back?” was birthed from my meeting with one pastor in particular. He was so burdened by what was going on in his church and personal life, that I just knew we had to do something to help. Almost every week, we hear of churches closing, pastors falling to sin or even worse. This conference is designed to proactively encourage pastors, refresh and renew their spirits and provide them with steps to move forward. Hopefully, they’ll connect with other pastors in the area so they can encourage one another.”
The organizations reached out to Gordon MacDonald as the keynote presenter for the conference. He and his wife, Gail, have gone through and overcome tremendous difficulties in their personal and pastoral lives. The couple now travels around the country, meeting with and encouraging other pastors as they go.
Mr. MacDonald said, “Pastors everywhere are dealing with struggles like never before. They are expected to ‘have it all together’ and to be a tower of strength to everyone. At the end of the day, many feel like there is no one available for them. Gail and I have been there. Our mission is to let pastors know they’re not alone in feeling like they do and to give them some practical advice.”
Sessions during the event include: Refilling and fueling your spirit; Turning your marriage and relationships from flat to flourishing; Regaining control over your finances; and Creating balance in your ministry and personal life. "What's Holding You Back?" will provide tools for pastors to get back on track in pursuing their God-given purpose.
Jim Suddath, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Dalton, said, “I attended a conference a little over a year ago with Gordon MacDonald and thoroughly enjoyed how he ministered to my mind, heart and soul. It’s important as a pastor to recharge your engine and be encouraged by someone who’s already been down that road. Plus, providing an encouraging night for my wife is a double blessing!”
Pastors’ wives face a tough dilemma. Often their husbands are either too burdened with their own challenges or too busy to spend the time the wives need. Plus, many feel that they can’t share what’s going on in their marriages or churches because they will appear weak or bring criticism to themselves or their husbands.
“My wife has her own issues,” said Mark Aitkenhead, pastor of Christian Family Church in Rossville, “and I don’t always know how to help her. I’m supposed to have the answers to everyone’s problems and sometimes my wife gets left by the wayside. I see this event as a way for her to find the resources she needs to flourish.” Mr. Aitkenhead's wife, Colleen, said, “As a pastor’s wife, you’re expected to talk and act in a certain way. Sometimes the pressure of the ministry can be overwhelming. It’s vital for me to find opportunities where I can be real and find the hope and strength I need to persevere.”
What’s Holding You Back? includes “A Night with Gail MacDonald” on the evening of March 18, specifically designed to encourage pastors’ wives. This special dinner event will feature Gail MacDonald, sought-after speaker and teacher. She will share wisdom and experience that comes from her 40-plus year marriage to a pastor. Participants will be able to fellowship with wives of other pastors as they are encouraged and pampered for the evening – a much needed break from ministering to others.
“A Night with Gail MacDonald” will be held on Monday, March 18, from 6–9 p.m. at Brainerd Crossroads (BX), 4011 Austin Street in Chattanooga. The event is free when their husbands register for “What’s Holding You Back?” or $15 alone.
“What’s Holding You Back?" a conference for pastors will be held Tuesday, March 19, from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. at Brainerd Crossroads (BX), 4011 Austin Street in Chattanooga. The cost is only $49 for both events.
Registration and pre-payment is required. Go to: www.holdingback.org or call Patti Harris at 423 266-5257.