By Joy Allmond
Lifeway news office
NASHVILLE — When Ben and Lynley Mandrell left the Denver-area church they planted to answer a call to lead Lifeway Christian Resources, they weren’t prepared for the journey their inner lives would take. On the heels of this seismic shift in ministry assignment, they found themselves in counseling to work through issues not dealt with due to the busyness of ministry life.
“It was a drastic shift,” said Lynley. “We spent 17 years pouring into families and walking with them through their own challenges. You don’t realize how much of yourself you’re giving to ministry without pausing and tending to your own needs. And we were emotionally depleted.”
Before planting Storyline Fellowship, Mandrell served as senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson from 2006-2013, leading the church to grow from 1,800 to 2,600 in weekly attendance. Before becoming senior pastor, he served as the church’s college pastor and as director of discipleship ministries at Union University in Jackson.
Lifeway released a new podcast on Sept. 20 called “The Glass House,” hosted by the Mandrells. The episodes will feature transparent conversations with ministry leaders who live in a “glass house” — an environment where they are left vulnerable to the stress of church life and the criticism of others. Since the coronavirus pandemic began dramatically changing church life, pastors have expressed to Lifeway Research that certain stressors associated with ministry life have become more prevalent.
Personal exhaustion and maintaining unity were among the top five concerns of pastors in a 2020 Lifeway Research survey.
In recent years, pastors’ spouses indicated they had their own unique struggles. According to a 2017 Lifeway Research study, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of pastors’ spouses said they had no one to confide in, more than half (59 percent) said church commitments limit family time, and nearly half (49 percent) felt they lived in a fishbowl.
Listeners who work in the trenches of church life will gain tools to navigate the difficult part of ministry life. Those who live outside this “glass house” will better understand what it’s like to dwell there.
“For nearly two decades we’ve served the local church and have had conversations with church leaders,” said Ben.
“We saw the toll ministry took on us and some important issues came to the surface. We then realized other ministry couples needed to talk about those things and hear others address them, too. This podcast will be a space where ministry leaders can tell their stories, talk about their challenges, and shed more light on what it’s like to live inside the ‘glass house.’ ”
The first season of “The Glass House” will unpack several core emotions that leaders experience, such as hurt, shame, loneliness and anger.
Guests will include a few Lifeway and B&H authors who are in the trenches of ministry, along with their spouses, such as: Derwin and Vicki Gray, Kyle and Christine Hoover, Daniel and Christina Im, and Dean and Krissie Inserra.
“The conversations are going to be raw and candid,” said Ben. “Listeners will hear pastors talk about things most don’t believe they grapple with, and they’ll hear pastors’ spouses say candidly what many are embarrassed to say. I believe the content of these episodes will be redemptive for many who have struggled in the trenches of church life.”
“The Glass House” release closely follows the launch of BenMandrell.com, a space that serves as an extension of the Lifeway president’s office in connecting with, resourcing and encouraging pastors and church leaders. Visitors to the new website will find recommended Lifeway and B&H resources, articles that encourage pastoral health and showcase Lifeway Research findings, and Lifeway Leadership podcasts featuring Ben Mandrell, along with future episodes of “The Glass House.”
“The Glass House” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music. B&R