Q&A: Lyle Hartwell

Director, Word of Life Inn & Family Lodge

Lyle Hartwell, Class of 1995, is in his second year as director of the Word of Life Inn & Family Lodge.

Lyle has been involved in ministry ever since his Bible Institute year. He spent his summers on Word of Life Island while attending Tennessee Temple University then returned to the Bible Institute to serve as the director of athletics (1999-2003) and assistant dean of men (2003-2005). Lyle and his wife, Becky (Chambers, Class of 2003), then served in local churches. Lyle was the ministry leader, college pastor, and ministries pastor at Eliot Baptist Church in Eliot, Maine, from 2005 to 2010, then served as the pastor of families and worship at Sonrise Bible Church in Rotterdam, New York, from 2010 to 2013.

Lyle was then asked to consider returning to Word of Life with his family as the Inn continued its transition to the Inn & Family Lodge, with a renewed focus on serving and strengthening families. Lyle and his family (including Austin, 7, and Olivia, 5), moved to Schroon Lake and are also involved in their local church, Mountainside Bible Chapel, where Lyle is a worship leader and helps with children’s ministry.

We caught up with Lyle to hear about his journey and vision for this new arena of ministry.

Whose life has impacted yours the most spiritually?
My parents truly were the greatest influencers in my life. Our journey with God is a faith walk, and no one has ever modeled that with more clarity than my parents.

My parents were church planters from the early 1970s until 1993, when my dad resigned from his last church. They were always bi-vocational (working jobs as well as being involved in ministry) and earnestly trusted in the gracious provision of God to meet our needs. My father was one of the most faithful laborers for Christ right until his death in 2002. As a widow, my mother continues to seek the Lord’s will in every area of her life despite the difficulty, trials, and circumstances that are out of her control. I strive each day to be as faithful as the example set before me by my parents, who truly loved God and loved others.

How did your year at the Bible Institute affect your life?
My year at the Bible Institute was a tremendous year of growth, as it is for most. I spent most of the year running from the Holy Spirit, Who was challenging me to surrender my life to full-time ministry. Trying to run from an omnipresent God is a foolish quest.

It was during the first week of summer ministry that I finally gave up the internal struggle of my will and surrendered to give “all that I am and all that I ever hope to be” to God for His glory. I was a counselor on the Island, and through the power of the Word of God, I watched seven of my nine campers put their faith in only Christ for their salvation. That was Week 1 of my new life, which has an unquenchable desire to come alongside people who need Jesus or need a clearer image of Who He is to see their lives changed.

What’s unique about the Word of Life Inn & Family Lodge?
Statistics show that a majority of families are unhealthy, struggling, and giving up at a staggering rate. At the same time, there is a significant trend in our culture toward families vacationing together. The Inn & Family Lodge must make the most of this opportunity to impact multiple generations of families.

We are a unique vacation destination that provides an exciting environment where kids, parents, and grandparents are challenged to grow closer to God and each other. Come and stay for a week in the summer or enjoy a weekend retreat in the fall or spring. No matter when you visit, you will be greeted by a wonderful staff eager to make your stay a refreshing one, complete with Adirondack adventures and world-renowned speakers. You also can schedule your own retreat for a church group or family reunion, and we’d be glad to work on tailoring the perfect retreat to meet your needs.

What’s new for 2014?
This summer, every week had a special “artist of the week.” These artists ministered through music and as part of our worship team throughout the week.

One of the other changes for 2014 is the location of check-in and customer service. You will now be welcomed in the lobby of the conference center to enjoy arrival refreshments. Customer service representatives will be in the lobby to assist you with anything you need during your stay.

What unique conferences are planned?
We have several. Answers in Genesis, with both Ken and Steve Ham speaking together for the first time at Word of Life, was at the Inn & Family Lodge for Week 1 this summer.

This fall, Linda Dillow and Julie Slattery will be at the Women’s Retreat for the entire weekend. Special music guest Shannon Wexelberg will be leading worship. The speaker at our Fall Marriage Retreat will be Pastor Jerrod Jones, the lead pastor of Grace Community Church, a multicampus church in Washingtonville, New York.

How can we pray for your ministry?
Please pray for wisdom and discernment as we seek to only bring glory to God in meeting the needs of multiple generations of guests. It’s not an easy task, but the need for life change is so great that we must be excellent in all that God has called us to here at the Inn & Family Lodge.

Please pray for people to come as they are and have their needs met exactly where they are.

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