There is a Season for Everything: The Transition of Potter’s Inn to a New Model

By Stephen W. Smith

Potter’s Inn Ministry is in transition.   This is actually a transition that we have planned for and are excited about walking boldly into the future. We are moving from a property centric model of offering soul care to leaders in the marketplace and ministry to a message centric model.   

Since 1997, we began to lay the foundation of resourcing leaders, churches and organizations to help people care for their souls and impact their own spheres of influence. In 2000 and at 42 years old, we moved to Colorado to formally begin. In 2003, we purchased the retreat in Divide and began inviting people from over 70 countries to come to one place to care for their souls. The retreat became our iconic expression of soul care and it worked in wonderful ways –but for a season and this season is now upon us to transition to the next season. As you know, I was able to write some books which have served as their own messengers to help promote our themes and message. People read the books and expressed interest to come for the care of their own soul.  We often hear, “You told my story on page 83. I want what happened to that couple to happen to us.” It’s a joy to see the books serve as a sort of net to catch people who are ready, willing and able to come for help.  Over the years we have travelled hundreds of thousands of miles and to many countries to offer this message. Every step and every country was vital and important. We have, ourselves, been shaped and sought to remain on the Potter’s wheel as we invited others to sit with us. We changed as we helped others transform.

We realized over the years that we had outgrown our own retreat.  While we had nine bedrooms, we found ourselves needing twenty-five rooms due to the demand and need. We moved some of our events off site to be able to accommodate the need.  Two years ago, our Staff and Board came to the conclusion that the retreat was requiring so much energy, resources and money that we needed to explore a new model—a model without the physical retreat.

Earlier this year, we sold the retreat discerning that we would build in the future into a more “message centric model.”  Our donors and Alumni have all been told the beautiful story of how a couple with a similar vision found us and we found them through marvelous and miraculous circumstances.

Now, the transition to what we are calling “Potter’s Inn 2.0” has officially arrived and we are in the midst of mega-change.  Gwen and I pioneered “Potter’s Inn 1.0—the Potter’s Inn as each of you have know it”, but this model does not fit our future.

This change and transition will mean:

-Prioritizing the Potter’s Inn Soul Care Institute. This two year training initiative has grown and developed into a nationally recognized program of learning. We are going to strengthen and grow the Soul Care Institute and maximize the message of soul care.

-Developing a global and online way of expanding our message through a brand new initiative that will help people—in every place on the globe to have access to the message. This brand new model is already in the incubation phase and will include some of the following: a podcast where conversations and interviews of leaders in the marketplace and ministry talk about the practical issues of life, faith and soul care; an online Book Club where participants can grow in their understanding in discussions focusing on some of the best books and resources available; an online Prayer Trail—where folks can learn about prayer; experience prayer and be coached in prayer. Innovative and attractive ways to help people connect, build community and more are being explored. Online classes similar to our Soul Care 101 DVD and online expressions of soul care, we developed last year.  This may be expanded to 201, 301 and 401 levels of learning (like college classes) and experiencing soul care.  The term “experience” is key and will distinguish Potter’s Inn’s future as we know that soul care cannot be just taught—it must be tasted and experienced. Our goal will be to make the message of soul care accessible. We’re very excited to take this bold step.

-Hire qualified and gifted leaders who want to grow with us in this vision to help develop, resource and be a champion of the message of soul care.  The Board of Potter’s Inn has already begun the interview process to find and hire the “Chief Architect of the Potter’s Inn 2.0 Global Online Presence.” This position will require a person who is skilled, trained and able to embrace an online platform as we expand and reach beyond one physical address to meet the global needs in a time that is fragile, needy and more ready than ever before for our message.

-The development and release of other resources to help people understand, practice and implement spiritual rhythms so vital in the care of the soul.

-Continue to offer our Soul Care Intensives and SoulScapes and to prioritize this main way of offering personalized soul care to leaders which will be preventative and restorative in scope and nature.  This model has been wonderfully responded to and we have a waiting list, at present, for six months into the future.

-Focus on the next generation—to reach and equip emerging leaders and leaders at mid-life to be equipped and resourced in their own particular spheres of influence.

As a small, innovative and courageous Team, the Staff of Potter’s Inn, along with our Board is excited about the future. Each step of our history has been necessary for us to learn and practice what we teach and how we live.  In the end, we understand that Soul Care is NOT a program. Rather, soul care is a way of life where one lives with the soul in mind; guarding one’s heart as the white-waters of life are navigated and living in sustainable, defined and practical rhythms which cultivate a resilient life within. We also know that the “place” is within—a place that every soul needs to find just as Jesus taught in his words to us about the ‘prayer closet.”

Let me be clear. This transition is a journey of grief.  For Gwen and me, it is a deep letting go of a place—our retreat.  It is not the death of a dream but it is a deep letting go of one paradigm that we loved and served in for two decades of our life, marriage, raising our own children and seeing God do extraordinary things in so many hundreds of lives. We have cried and still do as now we are “renters” of our own retreat from the new owners.  Yet, God has done the extraordinary in allowing a much needed time of transition in having our own retreats, continuing to host the soul care intensives on the property and using the property for our own needs for the next season.  At the same time and through the discernment journey we have been walking with our Board, Team and a few trusted and seasoned Advisors, we just feel a deep sense of rightness and affirmation upon affirmation that this is the right way. This is the new future.  It all feels like sacred synchronicity (I blogged about this last week). It truly is a coming together of events, people and developments that we could not have ever imagined. It feels holy and we believe this transition is holy.

Gwen and I are planning on mentoring and coaching the expanding of our team in the future and personally, we will continue offering our ministry through Potter’s Inn but at a reduced level.

We are excited to help cast the next vision for the future—a future that will need God’s blessings and your continued support.