An e-newsletter for conveners of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship peer learning groups. 

Warning signs

School has started for our children and grandchildren, ramping up the busy-ness at home. The program year is gearing up at church. And Advent will be here before you know it, even though it's still hot as blazes in many places. Whew.

But there's a difference between the normal chaos that comes with juggling personal commitments plus the "now" and "not yet" of ministry and the chaos that threatens to consume. All ministers should be mindful of warning signs of a potential self-care crisis:

Physical: Noting new health issues (e.g., elevated blood pressure), experiencing extreme fatigue, losing or gaining a significant amount of weight.
Emotional/Mental: Feeling depressed or overly anxious, relying on substances or coping mechanisms, considering self-harm.
Spiritual: Feeling distant from God, doubting your call to ministry.
Social: Avoiding loved ones, entering inappropriate relationships, believing that "everyone" is out to get you.
Financial: Running up debt, hiding transactions from your family or ministry setting.
Professional: Neglecting parts of your job or pouring all your energy and time into work.
This is not an exhaustive list, but if any of the warning signs above describe you, reach out to a friend, a coach, a physician, or a mental health professional. And if you notice reasons for concern in a colleague, check in with him or her. Overcoming isolation is key to staying healthy and effective in ministry.

Davidson Clergy Center

If you are headed toward burnout or going through a vocational transition, take a look at the five-day intensive program for ministers at the Davidson Clergy Center in Davidson, NC. This small-group experience offers nutrition and physical health assessments, daily consultations with a licensed professional counselor, didactics on stress management and goal-setting, and individual spiritual direction sessions. Program follow-up includes two months of coaching and email/ telephone consultations as needed. Says one past participant, “[This program is] an outstanding opportunity for anyone who wishes to take an honest look at themselves and their  practice of ministry while receiving  the help and tools necessary to grow  and develop a greater ability to  manage life and ministry.” The cost is $2800, and your ministry setting may be willing to help underwrite the cost.

Image courtesy of Hermanoleon Clip Art.

Pastoral Institute

The Turner Ministry Resource Center (TMRC) at the Pastoral Institute in Columbus, GA, offers spiritual direction, education, assessments, and career services for clergy. For ministers who are at critical junctures in their personal and professional lives, TRMC provides the Clergy in Kairos program, made up of three options: the Clergy in Formation track for those discerning a call to ministry, the Clergy in Transition track for those wrestling with changes in family or ministry setting or with the possibility of early retirement, and the Clergy in Crisis track when there's an extreme need for refreshment or restoration. (This third track consists of a week of intensive, individualized dialogue, and a couple's option is available.) If any of these tracks sound like they might speak to your situation, contact the TRMC at or 706-649-6360.

Creative Commons "Emergint" by Joan Sorolla is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Church Health Reader

The Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee, founded by a family practice physician and ordained United Methodist minister, helps people of faith care for their bodies as well as their spirits. The Center publishes a quarterly magazine (available online and by postal mail) with articles full of practical suggestions for starting various types of community- and congregation-based health ministries. Church Health Reader also includes related pieces on the spiritual impact of health issues, interviews, book reviews, recipes, and more. If your ministry setting has discerned a call to offer spiritually-based emotional and physical care, this publication offers lots of fodder for consideration.

Creative Commons "Health Screening and Disparities Press Conference" by Maryland GovPics is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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