Because you give … there is family ministry

Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC Family Ministry Specialist Joe Ulveling has been logging ministry miles across Missouri for more than a decade. While his job description includes project management for major campaigns like the Cooperative Program and the Missouri Missions Offering, reflecting skills he gained from the corporate world, one does not venture long into conversation with Ulvelingbefore his passion surfaces – ministering to ministers and their families.

Both Ulvelingand his wife, Debbie were raised in pastors’ homes, giving them first-hand knowledge of the blessings and challenges that pastors and their families experience daily. Debbie’s father has served the same Alabama congregation for 44 years. The Ulvelings experienced the more typical format of ministry moves, from Chicago, to the suburbs of St. Louis, and then to Atlanta.

After marrying, Joe and Debbie were led of God to the Atlanta area where they became immersed in the ministry of First Baptist, Woodstock. It was during their time at Woodstock, under the leadership of Pastor Johnny Hunt, that God defined Joe’s call to family ministry, eventually leading to his current role with the Missouri Baptist Convention.

During his decade of serving as a missionary to families, Ulveling authored “Hooked for Life,” a marriage enrichment curriculum and event designed to assist couples in creating an atmosphere of openness and change within their homes, based on practical biblical instruction. The “Hooked for Life” event and curriculum are available through the Family Ministries Office of MBC upon request by a church or association. They have been used across the state to impact communities with the gospel by strengthening marriages.

God also has led Ulvelingto craft the “Minister’s Juggling Act,” a weekend retreat for pastors, staff members and their wives. This annual event exists for the sole purpose of allowing ministerial staff and spouses a “get away” from the pressure and routine of service.

Attendees are refreshed and encouraged to block out the noise, feast on God’s Word, enjoy great accommodations and reinvest in each other as couples. “My passion is to help strengthen ministers and their families,” Ulveling says. “Ultimately, by accomplishing this, we are strengthening their churches as well.”

“It is hard to see vision in the middle of exhaustion. Sometimes the greatest gift we can offer our ministers and their wives is simply rest and uninterrupted time together. Because of the faithful giving through the Cooperate Program, the Missouri Baptist Convention is able to underwrite the bulk of the cost for the Minister’s Juggling Act, allowing a very affordable retreat for our pastors, two nights at a luxurious hotel, meals and materials for under $200 per couple. It is not designed as a conference, but as a retreat, solely to refresh and rejuvenate a weary servant.”

To date, the Minister’s Juggling Act has blessed several hundred Missouri pastors, staff members and wives. Registration is open each year for returning couples, though priority is given to first-time guests.

“Through the Cooperative Program, Missouri Baptists are able to make a significant investment in the spiritual leaders serving across our state,” Ulveling states.