MBC invests in Minister’s Juggling Act
By Allen Palmeri
March 10, 2005
BRANSON – Investing in the lives of Missouri Baptist pastors and their wives is a top priority for Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Clippard. That is why the MBC plans to allocate $10,000 in Missouri Mission Offering (MMO) funds to be used to help pay for The Minister’s Juggling Act in 2006.
Two of these conferences have taken place at Chateau on the Lake, a European-style hotel overlooking Table Rock Lake. After debuting in September 2004, the conference was held Feb. 15-17 and will return in September if the budget is favorable, said MBC Leadership Development Specialist Monty Hale.
“The heart of it is just to meet the needs of pastors,” Hale said.
The idea is to send Missouri Baptist pastors into the flagship property of the John Q. Hammons hotel empire, the “pride and joy” of some 145 hotels in 40 states that he has built, for the purpose of blessing them luxuriously for three days. Staying in a mountaintop resort noted for the Brazilian granite and Italian marble in the bathrooms of its guest rooms is certainly not the norm for most Missouri Baptist pastors.
“This is a place where none of them would ever go,” Hale said. “Pastors have this concept that they can’t do this kind of thing. You’ve got to stay at the small and not do the expensive. So with their churches paying a little bit, and our contributions through the Cooperative Program, we’re able to give them the nicest place.”
The Juggling Act is limited to 40 couples, and the group that ends up going on the retreat is fairly representative of the MBC in that they are mostly from churches of 150 members or less, Hale said.
Flyers are mailed to chairmen of the deacons and Woman’s Missionary Union presidents in churches asking if they would pay, in part, to send their pastor. Virtually all of the 40 couples who came in February did so because their church paid their way. In fact, the retreat has proven to be so popular that there have been waiting lists both times.
Matt Marrs, pastor, Northland Baptist Church, Pleasant Valley, and his wife, Kerry, were on the waiting list the first time before finally getting to go in Feburary. They were so blessed by what happened over the course of three days that they were the last participants lingering around the St. Moritz Room Feb. 17 as Hale, MBC Family Ministry Specialist Joe Ulveling and MBC Worship Specialist Bill Shiflett were packing up.
“You’re going to come back rested and refreshed,” Marrs said. “Our marriage is going to be stronger. We fellowshipped with other pastors, so we got some new ideas from other guys about what is going on.
“Your pastor, when he gets the flyer, is going to be reluctant to come to you and ask to go. You’re going to have to get that flyer off his desk and tell him he’s going to do this, Make him go.”
Ulveling specialized in light teaching during the retreat, focusing on tips to promote a healthier marriage and better time management. Shiflett offered a glimpse into a high level of worship that is often difficult to achieve in smaller churches, Hale said. Shiflett also did humorous impersonations of such stars as Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and the artist formerly known as Prince, all singing “Jesus Loves Me” quite uniquely.
Shiflett imitated Elvis Presley singing “Jesus Loves Me” in a way that may be surprising to folks who say the famous singer passed away in 1977.
“Most of you all think that Elvis is dead,” Shiflett said. “He’s not. He works at the Arby’s in Jeff City.”
Pastors like Marrs came away from the retreat believing that their marriage was going to hold up under pressure for the long run.
“Our marriage is a model to the marriages in our church,” he said. “We want a strong marriage for the sake of having a strong marriage, but a byproduct of that is that if we have a strong marriage, that models for the people in our congregation these kinds of principles.”