Sustaining Faithfulness in Ministry Leaders


What We Provide

Assess
Spiritual Growth and Self Awareness

We explore the relationship between self-awareness, knowing God and spiritual growth.

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Adjust
Spiritual Practices

We assist in identifying practices and spiritual rhythms that draw ministry leaders into the presence of God.

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Accompany
Spiritual Direction and Guidance

We partner in a relational process of spiritual growth, supporting pastors and ministry leaders in becoming fully alive to God.

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Services Overview

Personal Spiritual Direction

A special 1- 1 relationship by which an individual continues the process of their own spiritual formation by laying open the interior of their life and relationship with God for another person to see – then together discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit and the call of faith upon that individual.


Group Spiritual Direction

A small group of 4-5 ministry peers gathered periodically (usually monthly) around a shared desire to support one-another in spiritual growth and development. Through prayerful listening, asking clarifying questions, and being fully present to one-another, the members of the group seek to name, honor, and support the call of faith.

Personal Retreat

An intentional time of pausing, resting, and resetting. We invite ministry leaders to develop a “retreating rhythm” in the calendar year, we provide written material to guide this time, as well as opportunity to debrief the time spent on retreat with a spiritual director.

Group Retreat

Group Retreats are guided times spent with leadership teams or ministry staff away from “work” to focus upon personal spiritual growth and development. Group retreats can be for half-day, full day or overnight. At the end of the retreat, teams are then “debriefed” together to help process and collect the experience.

Enneagram Assessment

The Enneagram is a tool that helps assess a person’s growth edges and to explore where the Spirit of God may be leading change. It is an excellent tool for growing in self-awareness and for staff teams to utilize in strategic team building.

Sabbatical Planning & Support

Sabbatical is an intentional time of breaking away from the responsibilities and duties of everyday ministry in order to focus on the soul and sustaining faithfulness. Sabbaticals, more than respite from work, are customized for the individual to provide rest, recreation and reflection that revitalize a leader for life in ministry.

In-service Discussion

An in-service discussion explores with staff teams how to maintain a healthy spiritual life with the on-going demands of ministry. We explore with senior leaders how to help staff sustain a healthy spiritual life in ministry.

Service Details

Personal Spiritual Direction

Today, ministry leaders are re-discovering for themselves the long-term benefits of spiritual direction for living a life of faithfulness in ministry.

For more information, review Spiritual Direction and Evangelicals: Exploring its Growth, the Doctoral Thesis of Margie Van Duzer George Fox University 2011 )


Foundations of Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction may be a new concept for many church leaders, even though its influence upon the Church has been around for almost two thousand years. It is only recently through the writings of the late Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard (and others), that spiritual direction has been made both understandable and desirable for Christians leaders of all denominations.

To explore if spiritual direction might be a good fit for you, Contact Us. We would be happy to set up a free no obligation time to get together.

Our appointments take place in our offices in Brookfield, WI and usually last between an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes once per month or as requested.

Thoughts that may be drawing you to explore Spiritual Direction

“I have a deep longing in me for something “still more”, but to be honest I don’t know where to start or how to begin exploring what that means”.

“I have been sensing for a while the need to have a safe place to speak openly my life with God- exploring “Who is God to me, who am I to God?”

“I believe I am at a crossroad and I am not sure which direction to take or what path to choose next in my life”.

“I’ve walked with God for years, and yet right now I really sense I am struggling spiritually just trying to find God in all that I am doing …it scares me more than I let on”.

“The early excitement I had for ministry has left me pretty high and dry as of late, and I find myself skeptical and even a bit uncertain about what is most important or what I need to be doing”

Group Spiritual Direction

Group Spiritual Direction provides a completely different way for ministry leaders to be with each other. In group Spiritual Direction many of the hallmark trappings of comparison, competition and insecurity are eliminated. Instead, the focus of attention is on the work and leading of the Holy Spirit. Through prayerful listening and asking questions the group support one-another in discerning the call of faith and the work of transformation.

Group Spiritual Direction is often a supplement or a follow up to 1-1 SD and takes shape when individuals desire to be a part of a group setting..

Thoughts that may be drawing you to explore Group Spiritual Direction

“I like the idea of meeting with a group of peers in support of one-another’s spiritual life.”

“I not opposed to spiritual direction in a 1-1 setting but right now I think I would enjoy a group setting more.”

“I serve a church by myself, it would be great to connect in Group Spiritual Direction with peers in the area who are in ministry.”

If you are interested in group spiritual direction or simply exploring whether group spiritual direction might be a good fit for you, Contact Us and we will set up a free “no obligation meeting” to answer your questions.

Retreats

Retreating for ministry leaders are intentional times of pausing, resting, and resetting. Retreating can be done individually or in groups.

What is the purpose of your retreat?

Unfortunately for many in ministry leadership the focus and purpose of being on retreat can be missed. Retreating can feel more like the patterns of work than resting, resetting, and being refreshed interiorly. The time spent on retreat subtlety becomes a focused time of getting things done and production. Without too much awareness an unhealthy pattern develops and rest and refreshment essential for sustaining faithfulness in ministry are missed. Going on a retreat “for work” or “what I can give and teach others from this time away” can miss the real benefits for the individual leader entirely.

When on retreat this unhealthy pattern shows up when the focus and effort is overly and almost exclusively drawn toward:

“How do I give to others from this time alone?”

Retreat with a different focus

We help ministry leaders to distinguish retreating for “others” from retreating for the “sake of their own soul”. We invite ministry leaders to explore being alone with God in a different way and with a different end in mind.

What might it look like if you entered retreat asking…

“Is there something God has for me for my sake, that I must not miss?

"How do I pay attention to this movement of God within me for my sake?”

If you or your team are interested in entering a time of retreat and would like some guidance on the front end and/ or someone to debrief the time spent alone on retreat, Contact Us and we will set up a free “no obligation meeting” to explore how to pause, rest and reset for the sake of your soul.

Enneagram Training

The Enneagram is a tool that helps ministry leaders to assess their growth edges and to explore the invitations to change. It is an excellent tool for growing in self-awareness and for staff teams to utilize in strategic team building

 Video   InterVarsity Press Author Suzanne Stabile shares an overview and introduction to the Enneagram and why she believes we need this tool in our culture today.

InterVarsity Press has also created Enneagram Today specifically for Christians as a central place to find resources and articles that help us (and others) advance on our journey toward wholeness.

Enneagram Assessment

Ministry Director Mark Werner completed his certificate in training with the Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scale (WEPSS). Gracebridge regularly assists others in exploring the enneagram and conducting enneagram training seminars for groups as a valuable means for understanding our own personal growth edges.

Contact Us to set up a free “no obligation meeting” ” to explore more about the Enneagram for you and your ministry team.

In-service Discussion

Ministry is a wonderful vocation - full of purpose, meaning, satisfaction and joy…and ministry is hard on soul of its shepherds. If recent studies are accurate only 1 – 10 who enter the ministry will retire in it. We would love to talk with you and your team about some of the vital elements essential for sustaining faithfulness.

If you are interested in having one of our staff join your staff team for a discussion during your staff meetings or retreats please Contact Us.

Sabbatical Planning & Coaching

Sabbaticals are an intentional and extended time of breaking away from responsibilities and duties of everyday ministry. We at Gracebridge Alliance believe that sabbatical is necessary for leaders to observe in order to maintain their spiritual health. We provide support to those seeking sabbatical by first, helping them prepare for that time away, and second, walking alongside them during the sabbatical.

Establishing Sabbatical Policies

Making a request for a sabbatical is often the wrong time for a board to develop a governing policy on sabbaticals for the staff, unfortunately it is often the only time the subject is discussed. Gracebridge Alliance supports boards and staff teams on the front before there is a request by providing a clear framework for developing a policy on sabbaticals and how to implement policy with staff.

If you are interested Sabbatical Planning or establishing Sabbatical policies please Contact Us.

In the midst of a crucial and confusing season in both life and ministry God used Gracebridge as a safe and honest place where I was able to patiently discern His voice and direction. I am forever grateful for friendship and guidance I received

Paul Stevens

Pastor

During my sabbatical in the summer of 2017, the coaching through Gracebridge helped me to unwind some unhelpful patterns that I had developed in my life and ministry. Disengagement provided the seedbed for growth and the Gracebridge team was invaluable to me in this process, as well as to my church leadership.
I have learned better rhythms for flourishing within ministry, including understanding of myself, meaningful practices of prayer and Scripture meditation, and re-developing life-giving relationships with others.
I recommend Gracebridge regularly for those seeking spiritual direction, ministers seeking breakthroughs of growth through spiritual journey-partners, and specifically for pastors seeking coaching through a ministry sabbatical.

Matt Erickson

Senior Pastor at Eastbrook Church
Milwaukee, WI

Gracebridge Alliance came into my life at a pivotal time while working in ministry. I thought only pastors could benefit from spiritual direction and counseling, since I was in a support role in my local church, but my pastor (and boss) encouraged me to consider reaching out to them. I met with Maria as she graciously walked me through spiritual practices and habits to help me grow as a believer of Jesus. She became a mentor and advocate to me as she carefully listened and imparted godly wisdom in helping me stay steady and strong for the work of the Kingdom. Whether you are seeking spiritual support for yourself or helping to financially support the ministry of Gracebridge Alliance, you won’t be disappointed! It’s a win-win for all!

Lisa Lusak

Epikos Church Administrative Assistant
Milwaukee, WI

Gracebridge brought alignment and calm into a season of upheaval and confusion for both me and my wife by truly bridging the gap of spiritual belonging and truth. Their genuine care and compassion coupled with true and tested life experience helped us to move forward in our journey and embrace the deeper meaning of our current season.

Travis Agnew

Worship Pastor Blackhawk Church

My introduction to spiritual direction was initially through a sabbatical but I quickly realized that regular meetings in spiritual direction could be an integral and important part of my spiritual walk and growth after my sabbatical as well. Within spiritual direction encouragement and careful questions help me to see blind spots and growth edges, as well as the deeper interior work I need to do; tools such as the enneagram and contemplative exercises continue to point me towards a life of spiritual balance and health.

Randy Schmor

Gateway Director, North American Baptists, Inc.

Spiritual direction has helped me slow down and recognize the health of my own soul. In doing so I've been able to experience and participate more intentionally in the presence of God in me and in the world around me.

Sarah Knie

Children’s Director, Brew City Church
Milwaukee, WI

I was coming out of a hard season of church-planting ministry that involved a great deal of conflict and disappointment, leaving me in a transitional stage of life, and wondering about my future in ministry. My decision to step away from ministry leadership meant a loss of community, it brought on deep feelings of isolation and loneliness; trying to make sense of the disappointments, failures, and doubts I had about my competencies as a pastor and leader.

Gracebridge Alliance provided the space and time that was much needed to tend to my interior life. They guided me through a process of reflection and discernment around all that had happened in light of the abundance of God’s presence and grace. It didn’t take long to realize that my time in spiritual direction would become an invaluable and immovable part of my ministry life. The challenges of ministry haven’t changed, but I am learning how to be present to them in a different and differentiated way, marked by a more restful posture and attunement to the presence of God and to my own needs. I am slowly working towards a life of ministry and leadership that is sourced in the Divine Life of God.

Rev Ryan Boettcher

Associate Pastor and Deacon, Resurrection Anglican Church
South Austin, TX

I was referred to Gracebridge by a close friend who had experienced tremendous personal and spiritual growth. From the first session, the focus on how my unique gifting and wiring affects my connection to, and identity within God, has changed everything. My experience each day is more practical, visceral, and pure than ever before. The additional tools and resources recommended have been incredibly helpful as well. Since beginning Spiritual Direction nearly 15 months ago, I have referred several friends and colleagues to Gracebridge.

Jason Vanderpal

Executive Pastor

In the midst of the busyness of life and of ministry, participating in Spiritual Direction has been invaluable. The guidance, wisdom, and probing questions have been essential in slowing down and reflecting on how the Lord has shaped me and is growing me in this season. Easily one of the best practices to maintaining my mental, emotional, and spiritual health for my own well-being and for the betterment of those I minister to.

Dave Cartwright

Associate Pastor, Epikos Church
West Allis, WI

Core Values

We serve ministry leaders shaped on these following core values.

Process

We all continue moving through this life unfinished. We are never complete, we are still becoming, changing, and growing. Our change(ing) is both the design and the goodness of God for us. Vital to our spiritual growth and development is accepting and cooperating with this process of change.

Faithfulness

Wherever we are today, the good news that comes to us is always invitational from God. We are always invited to trust and to exercise our faith in the activity of God in us and around us. In faith and by faith, we are literally beginning again, and always beginning! Faith that restores, refreshes and re-orients the soul, is a faith that begins again. Faith is most fully expressed when we are integrating (not disintegrating) the whole self toward cooperating and becoming all that God would have for it and for us in this world.

Community

No one grows strong and well being isolated and alone. We were designed and built for relationship. What exists within the Godhead exists as an example and model for us. It is within meaningful relationships of being known and knowing others that we participate in becoming fully alive to the activity and movement of God in us and around us.

Compassion

Jesus said to his followers “Go learn what this means, I desire compassion...” (Mt 9:13) Compassion is discovering how to live in this world from a place of true connection and never from our separation from anyone or anything. The source of our connection, and what holds all things together, is both from Christ and through Christ (Col. 1:17). Compassion grounds each of us in what is sacred, it supports the well-being and thriving for all and is central to our coming fully alive to God.

Gracebridge Team

Maria Wilson

Spiritual Director

Mark Werner

Spiritual Director

Don Wilson

Board Chairman

Partner with Us

Good News. Sad News.

Ministry is a wonderful calling and vocation. And surveys reveal 90% of pastors feel they are serving in the place where God has called them. Yet is seems it seems serving in ministry remains very hard on the soul of shepherds

  • 57% of pastors regularly feel discouraged, stressed, and fatigued.
  • 53% of pastors report that the seminary did not prepare them for the ministry.
  • 90% of pastors report the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
  • 84% of pastors desire to have close fellowship with someone they can trust and confide.
  • 71% of churches have no plan for a pastor to receive a periodic sabbatical.
  • Only 1 out of every 10 pastors will actually retire as a pastor.

  • Our desire is to support those in ministry stay in ministry through tending to faithfulness and by noticing and nurturing the movements of God within the life of ministry leaders.

    Contact us if you are interested in learning more.

    To financially support ministry leaders through our services, Donate Online or make out checks to Gracebridge Alliance and mail to: 350 Bishops Way, Suite 201 Brookfield, WI 53005

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Gracebridge Alliance, Inc

350 Bishops Way | Suite 201

Brookfield, WI 53005

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