Marble Retreat opened its doors in 1974 to provide counseling for Christian leaders such as pastors, missionaries, and parachurch leaders. Louis and Melissa McBurney had a passion and calling to provide a place for Christian leaders to come to receive counsel, rest, and care.
Nearly forty-three years later Marble Retreat is still operating year-round providing intensive counseling for those in ministry who are hurting. Many in ministry do well, and most in ministry do well for a season but sooner or later the stressors of ministry, missionary life, the spiritual battle, the betrayals or conflict begin to wear on the pastor’s heart, soul, and mind and their spouse’s, if married.
Marble Retreat – Serving Christian Leaders Since 1974
So, what are the issues we see at Marble Retreat? In my dissertation work in 2009 I looked at what are the issues that bring Christian leaders to counseling centers, retreat centers, and spiritual formation centers in general, not just Marble Retreat. The six issues that rose to the top of the research are an accurate picture of what we see here at Marble Retreat. These issues are stress, burnout, marital issues, sexual immorality, conflict, and depression.
In the research, I also asked the question of what are the main causes of these issues. The most common response was isolation and the next most common cause that came up was unrealistic expectations. These unrealistic expectations can come from leadership, congregation, or any other outside party, but often the worst offender is the Christian leader themselves.
Of course, with each of these issues there are sub issues attached. With burnout, there are often related issues having to do with spiritual dryness and questions of calling. With marital issues, there are often issues with intimacy, communication, resentment. With sexual immorality, there are the issues of redemption, future in ministry, and self-forgiveness. All this to say that while narrowing down to the top six issues is good for research, reflection, and understanding but in real life issues are not so cleanly delineated. There are many other issues people come to work on at Marble Retreat including grief, trauma, exhaustion, and life transitions.
Many in ministry are the ones who help others with all of these issues but have no one to turn to when they are in need of being ministered to. Who pastors the pastor? Every Pastor Needs A Pastor ™, every Christian leader needs to be led at times.
Marble Retreat has provided an option for over 40 years and over 4,000 Christian leaders. To those of us on staff here at Marble it is a privilege to serve those who are serving the Kingdom.