by Mike Durbin
PLYMOUTH, MI – God is re-fueling pastors across Michigan as they reach out to strengthen and encourage one another in the Lord. The Pandemic has been a challenging time for those in positions of spiritual leadership, but Michigan Baptist pastors have served the Lord and His church well. They have reached out to one another for prayer, fellowship, accountability, and direction as they have served through this unique season. They are living out the spiritual truth that “iron sharpens iron.”
Approximately 35 pastors are engaging monthly in five “Be The Church” Cohorts, 55 ministry couples gathered in three Refresh Pastor/Wife Retreats, and 11 pastors started the re:Focus journeys together. Pastors are impacting pastors! Here are several testimonies!
Be The Church Cohorts
“I have been part of a “Be The Church Cohort” with four other pastors since June 2021. We meet monthly and rotate churches, so we can see each other’s ministry context. During the 90 minutes that we are together, our BTC cohort strives to be more than pre-assigned discussion points. We check up on each other’s families. We listen to what is going on in each ministry. We pray for and encourage one another.
Our BTC cohort breathes life and energy into me.
In my first year of ministry, a few decades ago, a veteran pastor told me “Every pastor needs a pastor”. My BTC cohort serves as the pastor this pastor needs in his life. I am very thankful for men that I meet with monthly” (Chris Peoples, Trinity Baptist Church).
Refresh Pastor/Wife Retreats
“My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Refresh Pastor/Wife Retreat, even with our newborn tagging along. While there was no cathartic moment, it was nice to get away and just spend time together as husband and wife. While Tim Dowdy gave some great spiritual reminders and did a great job offering encouragement, the refreshment really came from spending time together in Frankenmuth, getting to meet other pastors and wives and learning about their families and ministries, and the love we felt from Sabrina and Shar loving on our little one so that we could enjoy the dinner.
Over the past few years, the BSCM has offered other events like this along with pastor and wife date nights. While these are small events and only comprise a day or two out of the year, they are meaningful and refreshing. This is one other way that Michigan Baptists is saying, “we see the work you’re doing, we know it can be difficult, but you’re valued and appreciated.” That goes a long way in refreshing the soul. So, from my wife and I, thank you Michigan Baptists for loving on pastors and their wives. Thank you for investing in our ministry and in our marriage through opportunities like this. Thank you for ministering to us so that we can continue to minister to those that God has entrusted to us” (Jonathan Turner, Clinton Baptist).
“I had the opportunity to attend the re:Focus Retreat at Bambi Lake. I must say that this has been a helpful tool for me as a pastor. I came away from the retreat with three definite areas that encouraged me as a pastor.
1. We were asked about our trust level with God; 1being the lowest and 10 being the highest. As I took inventory of myself, I realized my trusting God for everything was not where I wanted it to be. I have shared this with my wife, and we are now trying to trust God in the simplest of everything. Trusting Him in everyday life whether big or small, trusting Him for everything instead of trying to manufacture it up myself.
2. Challenged in my personal goal. What do I want to see more of in my life? My personal goal became to know Jesus more in my everyday life. Philippians 3:10, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;" To know Him more I needed to spend more time with Him and less time with everyday distractions.
As a pastor it is easy to get distracted by others and their needs. I have tried to spend more time in prayer and focusing on what God can do. As a result, He has become more precious to me in my everyday life.
3. Given the book "The Me I Want to Be", by John Ortberg. Part 5 of this book is "deepening my relationships." Chapter 15 is, “Try Going off the Deep End with God.” This chapter has really encouraged me to spend more time in earnest prayer, and getting into a deeper relationship with God. Powerful and life changing.
I believe as a result of just the first re:Focus, God has enriched my life and through prayer God has been changing things for His good in His church. I am eagerly looking forward to God speaking in our next retreat about Redefining” (Ken Hale, Community Baptist Church)
Pastors are reaching out to each other across Michigan, demonstrating once again that we are stronger together.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.