Did you know that:
• 1,500 ministry leaders leave their positions each month?
• More than 70 percent of pastors do not have a close friend with whom they can openly share their struggles?
• At any given time, 75 percent of pastors and 84 percent of their spouses are discouraged or are dealing with depression?
These are some of the statistics that add fuel to the already burning desire of Jim and Debbie Hogan to give ministry leaders and their spouses the support, guidance and friendship they need to withstand the many challenges, pressures and expectations of working in the ministry.
Jim and Debbie, Newport Beach residents and co-founders of Standing Stone Ministry, recently held their first annual buffet for Standing Stone at the Oasis Center in Corona del Mar. Almost 200 people attended.
Standing Stone Ministry serves full-time Christian ministry leaders and their spouses. This includes pastors, vocational ministry leaders, and missionaries. Their stated goal is “to provide a safe place where ministry couples can come for guidance, care, understanding, and love.”
“The goal for the evening was to expose as many people as possible to what Standing Stone is doing, why we are doing it, how we are doing it, and to give others the chance to partner with us through prayer, by becoming a trained mentor, donating a vacation home for a week to use for a retreat, or by sending or helping scholarship a ministry couple that would benefit by Standing Stone Ministry,” Jim explained.
“We offer ministry couples an opportunity to form a lasting mentoring relationship that begins with a one-week retreat in a serene location, where they are hosted with excellence and mentored with love,” he added.
Ministry leaders and trained mentors told personal stories of the surprising dangers and pressures of fulltime ministry and shared the positive benefits to their marriages and ministries that came from their own Standing Stone experiences.
Curt and Rhonda Hamner, one of the mentor couples, spoke about how difficult being in fulltime ministry is on marriage. They also offered each couple in attendance an opportunity to take an online Marriage Check-up as a gift.
“We shepherd the shepherds,” Debbie said. “Ministry leaders are busy guiding others, but who is there for them? Everybody expects them to know all the answers, be great speakers, be good counselors and have perfect families. They work long hours, but are never done, and they have no time for themselves. Burnout is the leading cause for ministry leaders to leave the ministry. The second is moral failure.”
“The wife is often the most beat up because she resents that her husband spends so much time away from the family,” Debbie continued. “But she knows her husband is doing God’s work, so she feels guilty for feeling that. There is no job description for her, but there are tons of expectations.”
Studies show that ministry leaders have few close friends, and the opportunity to bond with mentors fills a tremendous need, providing an ongoing relationship of trust and care. During their private week at a Standing Stone retreat location, each ministry couple enjoys much needed rest and renewal, in addition to time spent with their carefully selected mentor couple. Mentors share their lives as well as wisdom and helpful tools for surviving and thriving in ministry.
“Standing Stone” is the name the Hogans chose for their ranch in Colorado where they originally held the retreats. Retreats are now held at various vacation homes across the country that generous people have offered for the Hogans to use for their ministry.
“We want it to be a five-star experience,” Debbie said. “Without really trying, we have 10-12 homes available to use in Jackson Hole, Park City, Puget Sound, Palm Springs, Texas and Georgia. We actually recently had our first Standing Stone retreat in the eastern Congo!”
Debbie’s background includes a passion to cook, host events and serve others, and many years teaching in the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program. Jim’s background includes being a builder, owning a restaurant, manufacturing, being an executive administrator of a large church, and sitting on numerous board positions, which included church and several nonprofit organizations.
“God prepared us for this ministry by having us personally experience the devastating results of a pastor having moral failure,” Debbie said. “This was not our idea, but we’d been well prepared for it, and God keeps guiding us. We also have a great board that not only supports us, but challenged us to write our own curriculum to train mentors.
“We are a nonprofit under the umbrella of Priority Living, but we are in the process of getting our 501(c)(3),” Debbie added.
For further information, go to standingstoneministry.org. Cindy can be reached at [email protected].