Is a Kerith Retreat for me?

By Marshall Eizenga

In 2017, ExPastors.com published the results of a pastoral survey they had done. They asked pastors two questions:

Do you feel overworked? Sixty-four per cent of pastors replied yes.

Do you feel you are unable to meet the demands of ministry? Eighty-six per cent of respondents answered yes.

These results don’t surprise me. They are, unfortunately, sadly predictable.

It’s quite likely the pastors were experiencing what the Koreans call, “Gwarosa,” and what the Japanese call “Karōshi.” The English translation is, “death by overwork”!

It is not easy to manage all of the demands of life and ministry.

As a pastor for over 35 years (and now one of the directors of Kerith Retreats), I understand that challenge. You’ve been called to vocational ministry. You start full of enthusiasm and you’re determined that everything you do with be for that “Audience of One.” And that works for a while, but then life happens and people need you, boards need you, your family needs you, and you’re left trying to figure out how to stay focused on pleasing the “Audience of One” when dozens, if not hundreds, of others are clamouring for your attention. And the plates you’ve been, to this point, successfully spinning, come crashing down. Sometimes one at a time, sometimes all at once.

At Kerith Retreats, we have found Dallas Willard to be almost prophetic when he wrote, “If you don’t come apart for a while you will come apart after a while.”

Should you identify with the above, don’t despair; there is hope! While help can come from many different sources, perhaps it’s time for you to consider a Kerith Retreat.

What does a Kerith Retreat actually look like? It’s a seven-day retreat in a quiet, peaceful setting where you and your spouse (if you’re married) enjoy a private suite in a beautiful lodge, all your meals are taken care of, and you can rest from all the demands of ministry life. It’s a small setting with just three other couples (or singles) where we talk about things that are common to everyone in ministry. There are three private sessions where the directors ask, “How are you doing?” (When’s the last time anyone asked you that, and then actually took the time to listen to your answer?) We want to come alongside you, hear your heart, pray for you and let you know you’re not alone. There’s a lot of free time in the schedule for you to reconnect with the Lord and with each other – and to simply breathe. That’s all, just breathe.

Kerith Retreats is a safe place. There are no demands. No expectations. No pressure. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The following testimonials were written by guests who have attended a week-long retreat at one of our centres in either Alberta or Manitoba. Many were worn out and discouraged. Others were bordering on the edge of burnout. It’s not surprising. This is what happens when you try to live and minister at full throttle, 24/7, for long periods of time. Guests often don’t realize how exhausted they really are until they attend a retreat.

“Our week at a Kerith Retreat was an incredible week of healing, teaching and rest. We are walking away with new hope and vision, feeling better equipped to face the challenges of ministry.”

“The week at Kerith has me feeling like my broken bones have been reset! My fire was just re-ignited.”

“This was a week filled with rest and purpose. Everything pointed us in the right direction for help to regain our rhythm.”

Many of our past guests realized that living at a breakneck pace and feeling continually overwhelmed wasn’t doing them, their families or their churches any good. They knew it was short-circuiting their effectiveness, draining their passion and clouding their vision. They realized Lance Witt is right, “In order to maintain [your] sanity and some semblance of spiritual health, [you] have to make time for personal retreat.” It’s often at that point they sign up for a Kerith Retreat.

And when that happens, we, as directors, have a front-row seat as God does his work in their lives. And we see that happen month after month, year after year.

Still not convinced a Kerith Retreat might be for you? Ruth Haley Barton writes, “No matter how far along we are in the spiritual life, there is no time when retreat, or strategic withdrawal ceases to be an essential practice. Without it we lose our way.”


Marshall Eizenga and his wife, Merrie, are the program directors at the Alberta Kerith Retreats location. For more information about our retreats, visit KerithRetreats.ca.


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