LEADING WITH CARE
Our theme for 2018 is CARE.
At Standing Stone Ministry we have always been actively involved in caring for ministry leaders and their spouses. However, this year we are focusing on four aspects of care, and dedicating these quarterly newsletters to highlight each area: Connect, Appreciate, Relate, and Encourage.
Connect: We were never meant to do church alone.
In this newsletter you’ll read stories from our Shepherds demonstrating how initiating a personal connection with a man, woman, or couple is making a real difference. Ministries have been revived. Marriages have been saved. Individuals have experienced a renewed passion for ministry. However, not all of the stories have a happy outcome. Sometimes church ministry has a dark side. We hear from individuals that are experiencing burnout, who have been unfairly terminated, or are facing great challenges as they seek to serve their churches. In these situations making a connection with someone that understands your circumstances, who has experience (in some cases decades of experience) in all aspects of ministry, and can empathize with feelings of hurt, discouragement, disillusionment, and fatigue is vastly important. We need one another. We need close, personal, safe, and confidential connections with one another – as human beings and as leaders in the church.
That, in a nutshell, is the ministry of Standing Stone.
We are here. We are listening.
Dave and his wife, Joanne, are both Standing Stone Shepherds. Dave is senior pastor emeritus for Woodbridge Church in Irvine, California, where he served as senior pastor for nearly 20 years. He also serves as a Retool Trainer for Converge Worldwide, a writer and small group leader for Saddleback Church, and a lead pastor for churches going through transition.
John has served as an ordained minister and biblical counselor on church staff for over 30 years. He and his wife Anne have seen firsthand the needs of vocational pastoral leaders. John also serves as a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Listed General Civil & Family Mediator, is a member of the Nashville Bar Association (committee member of the Alternative Resolution Dispute Commission) and the Tennessee Association of Professional Mediators (Board Member).
DAVE BECKWITH – WESTERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR
I was grieved … listening to a pastoral couple talk of leaving the ministry. “If this is what the ministry is about, we want out.” As an Associate Pastor in a sizeable church, they were expected to staff and run the nursery and children’s program, lead the junior high, senior high, and college ministries, develop the ministry to young families, organize and run VBS, and speak four times a week. Their vacation … spending an exhausting week as a counselor at youth camp. His anger and frustration boiled over: “The trustees call me in for reviews two or three times a month asking, ‘Why can’t you get it all done?’” He and the Senior Pastor rarely talked.
I met with them several times to support and love them. I encouraged him to confront the situation head-on. With tears and fears of being fired, he poured his heart out to the lead pastor and the trustees.
God has turned the situation around dramatically. They are loving the ministry, he and the Senior Pastor are supporting each other and meeting frequently, they changed the leadership structure from Trustees to Elders, they hired another staff to relieve their load, and they gave him a raise
JOHN DUVAL – EASTERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR
At the beginning of the summer I had a Senior Pastor of a large metropolitan church make contact with me. He had heard of our ministry and wanted to stop by and meet me. We set a time for the following week. After 30 minutes of meeting he looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “Is it really safe in here?” I replied, “Yes” and with that I observed that both of his hands began to visibly shake. Then he said, “John, I am going to tell you something I have never told anyone.” This decades long pastor felt safe and free to be open and honest. We now meet on a regular basis and he continues to find Standing Stone to be a safe, confidential place to share his soul.
Recently, I had a pastor’s wife say, “John, would you repeat what you just said?” With that comment I repeated what I had shared. She looked at her husband and said, “Did you hear what he just said?” Her husband/pastor replied, “Yes”. At that moment she said the following, “Thank you for being straight forward and honest with us. Most people never challenge him because he is the pastor. John, thank you for having the courage to be honest with us…..now we can begin healing.”
In 2017 we trained 31 new Field Shepherds – some on the east coast, some on the west, and a few in the Midwest. The map above reflects how the ministry of Standing Stone is expanding. Just a few years ago that same map would have demonstrated a high concentration in southern California, but happily that is changing. We also added some beautiful new retreat home locations, which is very exciting.
We thought we would begin our international ministry at some distant point in the future. After all, there are so many needs in the United States alone! Yet, God had other plans. While we were recruiting and training in the United States, our ever-so-wise Father had been working upstream speaking to individuals with hearts to serve in Central and South America, the Far East, and in the United Kingdom.
In 2017 we welcomed to our team of Field Shepherds husband and wife duos from Guatemala and South Korea. We also received word that a couple in Belfast, Ireland are interested in becoming Retreat Shepherds and a single woman from Belfast would love to join our team as a Field Shepherd. A new retreat location in beautiful Cambridge, England has been made available to us to serve our UK brothers and sisters. Clearly God is on the move bringing the ministry of Standing Stone to shepherds around the world. We look forward to sharing more exciting international news in the months ahead!
MINISTRY WIVES ROCK!
I received a call from a woman whose husband had just told her he was leaving her for another family. Divorce seemed inevitable.
We spoke about their marriage, which was really broken. They were living separate lives; in their relationship, their finances, their extended family relationships, and in their ministry. I presented the hope that this was not the end, but that she would have to take the initiative and make some changes in what she offered to the relationship. We discussed what those would look like. I also suggested several books for her to read.
Over about 6 months we talked about love and forgiveness. Out-of-the- blue her husband suggested they go to a marriage class.
At our most recent meeting she beamed with joy as she told me of the transformation in their marriage. I believe that without being able to speak with another godly woman this marriage would be dissolved today. Being a pastor’s wife, she could not speak with anyone in her congregation for counsel. This is one of the reasons I choose to be available to pastor’s
Joanne Beckwith – Shepherd
“I advocate for pastors’ wives at every opportunity. People are so surprised to hear of their struggles. They put their pastor’s wife on a pedestal and when she doesn’t measure up, they can be critical. I think anything I can say to change their attitude from judgmental to supportive will help their pastor’s wife.”
What sets Standing Stone apart
Below are the four distinctives that set Standing Stone Ministry apart from other ministries that serve church leaders:
- We are proactive. We initiate confidential relationships before bad decisions are made.
- We minister to both the husband and the wife.
- We offer life-long confidential relationships.
- We don’t charge the leader, spouse, or church for the services of our Field Shepherds. Our shepherds raise their own support.
Unlocking the Heart of a Pastor
Put a group of pastors in a room and you will normally hear about church growth ideas, successful programs that are working well around the country, and stories of leaders impacting their communities for Christ.
What you don’t hear are their personal stories of marital struggles, anger issues, self-doubt, financial fears, resentment toward church members, and a loss of ministry passion, to name a few. They wouldn’t dare be that vulnerable to those they often perceive as competition, too much is at risk. Rumors and gossip could cost them their positions, their churches, and their livelihoods. They have learned to stuff things down, put on a happy face, and plow ahead.
Anyone who has worked with pastors knows that it is not easy to unlock their hearts. Pastors are often criticized, judged, and betrayed. They feel unprotected and have learned that it is not safe to openly share their thoughts and feelings, especially when it relates to their hidden struggles and personal issues. The latest research reveals that few pastors have someone safe and confidential in whom they can confide.
This is why our Standing Stone Shepherds are so important to these ministry leaders and why our approach to caring for them is so successful. We know the key to unlocking hearts is building a relationship of trust. Pastors are usually incredulous when we reach out to them at no cost, with no motive to come and preach at their churches, use their congregants, or promote Standing Stone Ministry. We only want to come alongside and encourage them with words of hope, strength, peace, and confidence rooted in years of pastoral experience. When a pastor knows he is able to share his deepest and darkest fears, pains, and feelings without being judged, rejected, and punished, his heart begins to unlock and the work of healing and health begins. It is a powerful moment!
RETREATS – A SAFE PLACE IN THE STORM
Why go on a Standing Stone Retreat? Is it a vacation? No, not really. We work through the hard issues of marriage and ministry. Is it a time to rest, recharge, and regain perspective? Yes, yes, and yes! It is all of those things and so much more.
The personal reasons for attending vary couple to couple, but the overall outcome is much the same. The ministry couple arrives feeling tired and a bit anxious, they have no idea how the Holy Spirit will encourage their hearts, strengthen their marriage, and begin healing the hurting places. They have no idea that the strangers who greet them at the front door will soon become forever friends.
But we know. Since 2002 Standing Stone has been making a difference in the lives of ministry couples that attend these one couple-to-one couple 7 night/6 day retreats. We love being a part of the before and after stories. And, even after all of these years, we still marvel at the goodness and faithfulness of our God in meeting each couple right where they have need.
“Jeff and I continue to be thankful for the huge investment you both made into each of us personally and into our marriage.” November 2017 retreat attendee
DARE TO CARE – A CHALLENGE FROM JIM
The word CARE is defined as; an effort made to do something correctly, safely, or without causing damage – things that are done to keep something in good condition. As an acronym the word CARE is what Standing Stone does: CONNECT, APPRECIATE, RELATE and ENCOURAGE Ministry Leaders who are the heroes fighting to protect God’s bride, the Church. Ministry Leaders, are the enemy’s #1 target. “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.” Zechariah 13:7
The word DARE is defined as; to be sufficiently courageous – to have the courage to contend against… Standing Stone Shepherds DARE to CARE for Ministry Leaders as they form trusted confidential relationships with them so they don’t have to fight the battle alone.
Okay, I must be truthful about this word DARE and the CARE acronym. God has it imprinted on my mind. It’s there when I wake up and when I go to bed. It just will not go away. Maybe it’s because it makes it so easy to tell the story of Standing Stone because our Shepherds really do DARE to CARE. They understand that strong and healthy ministry leaders develop strong and healthy followers of Jesus. Strong and healthy followers of Jesus advance the Kingdom of God. (The Great Commission)
How different would the world be if everyone chose to DARE to CARE for their Ministry Leaders and each other? Since all followers of Jesus are part of the CHURCH, it makes sense for all of us to CARE for the bride until Christ’s return.
My prayer is that “DARE to CARE” will become a movement across the nation. In the months ahead, Standing Stone will DARE you with ways to CONNECT – APPRECIATE – RELATE – and — ENCOURAGE Ministry Leaders.
This movement is too big to do by ourselves. Won’t you join us?
Hey Church, Can we talk about it?
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecc. 4:9-10
I need other people in my life. I need to feel I belong, am understood, and appreciated. I need to know someone is listening when I speak. I need to know that I matter, that my life matters. I need connection.
I am not alone in these feelings. God made us to be part of a community. He created The Church, His Bride, to be a community of like-minded people who do life together. When one of us falls, there should be many others who help us stand again. When one of us stumbles, many hands should be there to grab us and pull us away from the precipice. Yet, is that the norm? No. We can, and we should, do a better job. What would it take to make church a safe place for everyone, where grace and mercy trumps judgement and criticism? Will you be the one that begins that conversation?
STANDING STONE PRAYER MINISTRY
Prayer is an integral part of our ministry. Our staff meets weekly on Thursday mornings to pray over our ministry and for specific prayer requests as they come in.
We have a group of prayer warriors – our Rapid Response Prayer Team – that have committed to stopping and praying for urgent prayer needs when they receive an email from us.
If you would like to be a part of this vital prayer ministry, please click on the icon below;
February 12 – 5th Annual Donor Appreciation Celebration, Newport Beach, CA
April 27-28 – Eastern Regional Team Building Weekend for Standing Stone Shepherds, Nashville, TN
June 22-23 – Western Regional Team Building Weekend for Standing Stone Shepherds, Costa Mesa, CA
September 16 – Annual Standing Stone Fund Raising Banquet. Location/time TBD