This is certainly not your typical Christmas year-end giving request. It’s raw, it’s bold, it’s filled with confession and truth, and it’s more critical now than ever before.
By many accounts 2016 has been our most ambitious and aggressive growth year to date. We’ve hired new staff, signed a new lease on our lodge, grown our special events and concerts into stadium size venues, and expanded many of our national broadcast partnerships. For the second year in a row we’ve reached our goal of direct contact, encouragement, and general support to more than 1,000 pastors, and we are MOST GRATEFUL for all of this and give God all the Glory!
However, in the midst of all this excitement, I’ve personally been about ready to give it up. Normally an optimistic person, at times I’ve felt weak, discouraged, and numb to my surroundings. I went through a season of being emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted…absolutely spent in every way. This was new, uncharted water for me. I often felt God wanted me (and this ministry) to be cheerleaders on the sidelines supporting and fighting for those in ministry on the front lines, but all of sudden we were in the heat of the battle. I felt like I was personally being attacked on all sides. Even though I’ve been spending time with pastors and ministry leaders encouraging, listening, counseling and coaching them, I had never personally experienced the depths of what extreme fatigue and ministry burnout feels like. It’s scary, numbing, dangerous; I wouldn’t want anyone to get to that point, much less stay there! Truthfully, I never pictured Energize Ministries being part of the “front line” advance, but in the new movie, Hacksaw Ridge, I noticed a powerful correlation to the medics coming under fire and the role Energize Ministries plays to pastors all over this country. If you plan to see it, think about us in that capacity.
Recently, I heard Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Texas, testify that of all ministry challenges, spiritual warfare is the toughest part of his pastoral experience. He explained how much Satan hates the local church and cited Daniel 7:25 and 1 Peter 5:8 as part of that proof.
Ministry at times is a celebration, but at other times it is messy. Pastors often feel defeated and want to run and hide due to hurt and anger. Please let me repeat this- ministry is hard! Too hard to do without support- a lot of support from others who care about you!
Personally, I feel much better now than I did a few weeks ago. I’m grateful that God has restored my strength and provided me with an extended period of rest. Ministry burnout, I realize, is still a potential danger looming on the horizon, as it is for any seasoned pastor, church planter, missionary, or other ministry leader. From my own personal experience, I plead with you to boldly intercede on behalf of your pastors and their families. Be the one to speak to your church’s leadership and urge them to install a team of prayer warriors for your pastors. Also, please consider supporting this ministry through daily prayer, monthly financial support or a special end of year gift. We regularly see God do miracles through this ministry and would love for you to join us and be a part of our future! If you already contribute, know that we see every gift as directly from God and are incredibly thankful for your partnership- and pray that God richly rewards you for your willing obedience to support us!
People ask, “Why do I need to be concerned about my pastor- or his family? (It appears like everything is just fine to me.)” or, “What can Energize Ministries really do to help my pastor?” I can answer those questions with greater accuracy and conviction more now than ever before, as I share what I’ve learned from my own experience.
First– Energize Ministries provides friendship, one on one encouragement, confidential care and prayer support for area pastors. During my season of exhaustion, I needed this myself. Fortunately, I have a core group of trustworthy friends and intercessors that were available to help me. Unfortunately, this is not often true of pastors and it’s a need that our team currently helps to fill for about 100 local pastors.
Second– Energize Ministries provides a true Sabbath– an unencumbered time of rest and renewal for 1-3 day retreats. Again, I desperately needed this- and by God’s grace, I was able to set my phone down, ignore my computer, and spend a few days at our mountain property. We regularly provide this (free of charge) to pastors and their families. This is vitally important when it comes to active and preventive care!
Third– Energize Ministries works tirelessly to train the body of Christ to be aware of how much the enemy is after our pastors and Kingdom Leadership. We then help equip church members to consistently reinvest in the lives of their leadership before the burnout sets in and before a demise or failure.
As we approach the end of the year – I’m hoping and praying for your help. Currently we are almost $100,000 behind our financial goal for this year (about 28% of our projected budget). If you have a heart for this ministry, would you consider a generous year-end gift. You could also directly sponsor a Sabbath retreat and/or experience for local pastors. The average cost is about $250/per pastor (please indicate that on your gift.) We anticipate providing 200-300 of these for pastors this coming year.
I don’t know if God is nudging you to help us or not, but I know He will be faithful to prompt many of you to help us. If you are feeling that nudge, please know you are an answered prayer and we are already praising God for your willingness to be part of His ongoing story!
As we look forward to 2017 and beyond, we are truly excited about where God is leading. Our vision includes substantial capital needs for future development of our retreat property. If you would like to see or discuss details of those plans, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know that we are praying for each and every one of you during this wonderful Christmas season. Daily seek to walk closer to Him, listen for His voice, and respond in obedience wherever He leads! Call on us anytime if we can help you or your church establish better methods of caring for your pastors. They will need it more and more in the days ahead!
Thank you so very much for your support. We hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
Andy Bowersox, Executive Director