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Keep it Simple Podcast #133 Bart Scarborough (Part 1) – Simple Church Conversations

Recently I was able to continue the “Simple Church Conversations” series by interviewing a good friend, Bart Scarborough. Bart is currently operating a spiritual retreat center in Georgia called The Ancient Way Farm. In this podcast we discuss the current unhealthy trend of frenetic ministry and encourage a more focused but slower, deliberate way of healthy ministry through reflection and relationship.  As you will hear me share in my introduction, the topics we cover in part 1 (and part 2 …coming soon) are very close to what I think God is up to in “simple” church.  I hope you enjoy and would love to hear your thoughts in person or in the comments below.

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From Ancient Way Farm website…

How we got here…

Bart and Victoria Scarborough have been in full-time vocational ministry with Young Life for the past 25 years.  It has been a wonderful ride with a fabulous organization.  They have seen it all.  The beautiful and the dreadful. Countless lives changed forever as kids come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. And, unfortunately, many Christian leaders fall away because of the stress of ministry and the pressures to succeed.  It was time to turn the table.  

Bart and Victoria decided it was time to shift their focus from introducing the lost to Jesus Christ, to helping Christian leaders go deeper with Him to stay healthier for the long haul.  This would enable leaders to be stronger for the countless others that they would influence for the Kingdom.

“We lead more out of who we are than out of what we do, strategic or otherwise. If we fail to recognize that who we are on the inside informs every aspect of our leadership, we will do damage to ourselves and to those we lead.” – Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader

The harvest is plentiful.

A recent study showed that burnout is rampant and that personal and family health of ministry leaders is in dire straits.  Listen to these numbers:  
  • 90% of people in ministry feel inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands; 
  • over half feel like they are unable to meet the demands of the job; 
  • 70% fight depression; 
  • 50% would leave their jobs if they could, but have no other way to support their families.  
These stats are staggering.  But the reality is that it’s not just folks in ministry.  This is a need across the board.  Everyone who longs to go deeper with Jesus is facing similar struggles. That’s why the Scarboroughs have decided to answer this call.

Where we’re headed…

So after leading and caring for Young Life volunteers and staff for a quarter of a century, Bart and Victoria are excited about moving into this next phase of ministry.  Both feel, not only excited, but qualified.  Twenty-five years of pastoral/ministerial work and 25 years of participating in solitude retreats (led by Brennan Manning and Fil Anderson), have left Bart and Victoria in a place of understanding of what is missing…What Scazzero calls the “who we are on the inside” and how to nurture that inner life.
The past 15 years Bart’s main focus has been the developing of the “inner life” with those he has lead.  He has lead Solitude retreats himself for others.  His reading has been a steady diet of Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, Richard Foster, Wendell Berry, Dallas Willard, A.W. Tozer and others who have been encouraging him to seek “the way of downward mobility” and the spiritual disciplines of solitude and stillness and slowing.  The Ancients knew that the Spiritual life never happens quickly.  It’s a slow growth.  Bart is also a graduate of the Soul Care Institute where he received his certificate in Spiritual Formation.
Bart & Victoria Scarborough
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