“Frenzied busyness is the number one value of American Christian leaders.”
That was the assessment of the late Lon Allison, a pastor and former Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. “When we get together in conferences, that’s what we talk about all the time, how busy we are. That must be a number one value.”
Yet if we are busy all the time, how can we be attentive to God? To our families? To ourselves?
Across the years, many Christian leaders have been assisted in finding time for reflection and renewal through personal spiritual retreats facilitated by Leighton Ford Ministries. These retreats are one more way we come alongside missional leaders as they journey through life and ministry.
Spiritual direction (or spiritual mentoring) is a centuries-old practice to help shape our lives and our service in Christlike patterns. It is modeled on Jesus, whose way of developing leaders was not classroom teaching, but life upon life . . . like a master craftsman tutoring a young apprentice.
The typical retreat is three days, starting with extended conversation with an experienced spiritual director, continuing through solitary time for being alone with God, and concluding with a debrief. The purpose and best use of the retreats, in our experience, is for unhurried time to be alone with the Lord, His creation, and your own innermost being. We encourage participants to not come with a big agenda or lots of reading material, but instead bring an open heart and a readiness to wait quietly on the Lord.
We recommend personal retreats usually for one person, but couples or co-workers have in some cases found it helpful to come together.
Our Spiritual Directors include:
Dr. Zack Eswine is a pastor, mentor, and author who serves as Lead Pastor of Riverside Church near St. Louis and Director of Homiletics at Covenant Theological Seminary. The product of a broken home, he has wrestled with anxiety, depression, and doubt. From these wounds comes a desire to help you create quiet space to consider and communicate Jesus amid the doubts, longings, questions, and sorrows of our generations, and within your own life. Zack is most recently the author of The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus (Crossway 2015).
Dr. Leighton Ford describes these latter days of his personal ministry as “an artist of the soul and a friend on the journey.” A prolific author, artist, and mentor, Leighton served for 30 years as Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and for 16 years as Chairman of the Lausanne Movement. Since 1985, Leighton has focused primarily on mentoring emerging missional leaders. He is the author of A Life of Listening (IVP 2019), The Attentive Life (IVP 2014), and Transforming Leadership (IVP 1993).
Anne Grizzle is an author, family therapist, and retreat leader who also serves as Associate Faculty for the Shalem Institute for Spirituality, where she offers workshops on group spiritual direction. She is founder and facilitator of the Strength for the Journey retreats for those facing hard life challenges. Anne has authored three books and been a featured speaker on national television programs, including Oprah and Donahue. She is Chair of the Leighton Ford Ministries board of directors.
Dr. David Henderson serves as the senior pastor of Covenant Church, an Evangelical Presbyterian Church near Purdue University in Indiana. A former atheist who gave his life to Christ at the end of college, he has now served in full-time ministry for more than 30 years. He has a passion for equipping and encouraging pastors around the world through mentoring, training, and working with organizations including the Lausanne Movement and the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. David is married to Sharon, who also serves as a Spiritual Director.
Sharon Henderson is a Spiritual Director, mentor, Bible Study leader, speaker, and pastor’s wife who considers it a “deep privilege to come alongside others to discern together the loving presence and activity of God in their lives.” She is a member of the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association and is a Certified Spiritual Director. Her ministry includes facilitating spiritual formation retreats, working with mothers and children, and equipping and encouraging leaders. Sharon is married to David, who also serves as a Spiritual Director.
For more information or to express interest in scheduling a personal spiritual retreat, please contact Sunny Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.