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Help For Hurting Pastors and Families

Do a search on Web sites for pastors, and you’ll find many that offer sermon outlines and worship help. But what about help for pastors and their families who are hurting in some way—whether they’ve been forced out of the ministry, are recovering from an addiction, need help in their marriages, or need a mentor?

Rev. scoped out 10 sites that you might find helpful if you’re in one of these boats. Unfortunately, we must include the usual disclaimer—while we offer these sites as a starting point for hurting pastors and their families, we don’t necessarily endorse them or all of their content.—The pastoral ministries department of Focus on the Family hosts this Web site, which provides a “Web neighborhood for pastors and their families.” Their stated mission is “to facilitate spiritual restoration and renewal for ministry families through resources and services.” It includes articles, message boards, help with professional issues, and a section for pastors’ spouses.—The host of this site is Christian Recovery International, and its goal is to provide support, encouragement, and resources to religious professionals in recovery. The site includes forums, resources, events, and links to other Web sites affiliated with Christian Recovery International.—This organization offers information about more than 1,000 retreat centers across North America available to pastors’ families (and others) for spiritual retreat and renewal. Listings of retreat centers by region, state, and province, and a directory of spiritual directors and coaches are included.—An online support group for damaged ministers, this site is based in Great Britain. Their specialty is ministry to abused clergy, which they define as “unreasonable behavior toward Christian ministers which undermines their ministry, causes excessive stress, and threatens their health.” The abuse can result from constant criticism, threats, unrealistic expectations, and even physical violence. —The mission of this site is helping ministers who’ve left the ministry (forced or voluntary) to renew their individual value and to focus on God’s will for their lives. The goal is to help meet these pastors’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. This ministry also works with local churches to help them realize and appreciate the gifts of their pastors.—This is for people in ministry who are hurting—whether that’s a feeling of discouragement, loneliness, or complete despair. This site grew out of the founders’ own experiences with being hurt in ministry.—This site focuses on helping pastors who are overworked or feel caught in a cycle of failure and burnout. It includes information on workshops held quarterly for pastors and their spouses, and how pastors can establish mentoring and counseling relationships.—This organization provides counseling, consulting, and support services to clergy and their families, other church professionals, and congregations. One of their goals is to help congregations eliminate unnecessary conflict and dysfunctional leadership in a way that’s supportive of pastors.—This is like your local ministerial association but on an international scale. It offers a lot of services, from insurance to tax advice. But it also offers help with marriage and family problems, consultation and networking on ministry-related issues, and an intercessory prayer group for urgent and continuing requests for ministry and personal needs.—This site (called Pastors’ Wives: Thriving in the Fishbowl) is made specifically by and for ministry wives, and includes an email list for those coping with depression, ideas and tips for entertaining throughout the year, humor, recipes, newsletters, and more. Active message boards connect you with other ministry wives, and cover a variety of personal topics that you may not be able to share with other women in your church.

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