The North American Mission Board recently hosted the final retreat for pastors and their wives of the 2022 season and announced a new name for the events in 2023 — Refresh Retreats.
Ministry couples face unique challenges as they carry out their vocation, and NAMB has designed its Refresh Retreats to come alongside and encourage pastors and their wives in a way that helps them remain faithful in their ministries.
NAMB hosted 10 such retreats in 2022 across the United States, ministering to more than 1,800 pastors and their wives. During the final event just outside Atlanta, Nov. 1–3, experienced pastors like Greg Matte, Michael Catt, Steve Gaines, Mark Lowery and Tim Dowdy addressed attendees.
In the Nov. 2 session, Greg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church, reminded pastors, based on Colossians 3, of the importance of maintaining their hearts and keeping their priorities in order.
“I’m telling you; only secure people can really love,” Matte said. “Don’t use ministry to have your dysfunction met. You cannot get into the pulpit to have your need for security met. … You’ve got to step into the ministry already a success in Jesus’s eyes.”
Colossians 3 opens with a reminder of the Christian’s identity of being raised with Christ, who is seated at God’s right hand. That reality changes a person and cultivates a heart to want to be with Christ and to pursue Christlikeness, which is fulfilled through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the pastor’s heart and life, Matte said.
Being with Jesus
With the heart filled through a passion for Christ, the pastor can then more fully minister first to his home and then his church.
“It’s been said that if you take care of the ministry, God will take care of the house,” Matte said. “I want to flip that and say if you take care of your house, God will take care of your ministry.”
Michael Catt, who recently retired as pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, shared about the challenges of ministry and the need for pastors to be with Jesus and to encourage their people to see Jesus.
“If you’re breathing, you’re going to have problems,” Catt said. “If you wake up and the devil’s not bothering you, it’s because you’re not bothering him.”
Catt addressed the need to lead a church to become a congregation that loves Jesus Christ and reaches people with the hope of the gospel.
“Religious people don’t like Jesus. They like religion. They like deistic moralism,” Catt said. “They don’t want God in the midst of them. They want rules and regulations. … We’ve done nothing to get rid of Pharisees in 2,000 years.”
Three words from Matthew 11:28–30 offer life-changing hope for a pastor: Come, take, learn. Come to Jesus, take His yoke and learn from Him.
“Jesus says come, show up. Get with me!” Catt said. “Remember the first thing Jesus said to his disciples was that they would be with him.”
NAMB’s retreats are also designed to serve pastors’ wives, and various speakers spent time investing in them during their own sessions. Kathy Litton, NAMB’s director of spouse development for Send Network, has been involved in ministering to pastors’ wives during NAMB’s retreats for ministry couples in recent years.
Tara Dew led multiple sessions on Nov. 2. She is the wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Jamie Dew and the director of Thrive, the seminary’s certificate program for ministry wives.
“Pastors’ wives serve their husbands, families, churches and communities so faithfully week in and week out,” Dew said in comments after the retreat.
“Encouraging and equipping them in some small way is one of the passions of my heart,” he noted, “I count it such a privilege to have served them at the NAMB Retreat and loved every minute we had together.”
Morris Johnson, pastor of Integrity Baptist Church in Hueytown, Alabama, attended the retreat with his wife Derry.
“It is life-changing, reinforcing basic biblical qualities — that I owe a relationship first to God, then my family then to the church,” Johnson said. “We’re looking for a renewed thrust in the ministry in changing peoples’ lives with those same, basic three principles.”
The new name for NAMB’s retreats for ministry couples — Refresh — was offered to NAMB by Michael Catt, who hosted conferences for pastors by that name throughout his years of ministry.
“NAMB needs to keep continuing because this is so meaningful to pastors,” Johnson said.
For more information on NAMB’s Refresh Retreats, visit namb.net/refresh.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Brandon Elrod and originally published by the North American Mission Board.