June 29, 2011

Jenn Atwell on Discouragement in Church Planting

When we moved to Charlottesville to plant a church, we were welcomed and championed by the staff at another local church, Portico Church. They have given us chairs, advice, encouragement, friendship, and the use of their building for occasional meetings. We are so thankful for them!

Chris & Jenn Atwell planted Portico in 2004. When the church was still in its infancy, Chris was diagnosed with cancer and underwent aggressive treatment. While he was receiving treatments and completely out of commission, God grew the church from 20 people to over 100. Portico has continued to grow over the years and has planted another church in the D.C. area.

In today's post, Jenn shares with church planting wives about fighting discouragement. In my next post, she'll offer advice to wives in the early stages of planting.

How do you deal with the discouragement that often accompanies church planting?
I know for me, being part of a church plant really helped me understand what being dependent on God feels and looks like in my everyday life.  I was often discouraged, anxious, and yet had peace.  It is so important to make sure you are reading God's word, growing, praying, so that it can guard your heart and keep the right perspective.  Each time I struggle it is always when I have lost sight of the gospel.  

How do you help your husband when he is discouraged or overwhelmed by the demands of his job?
Sadly, it took me a while to figure out the best way to help my husband in ministry.  I know how not to help him: asking a lot of questions about church when he gets home, being over committed at church, or giving advice.  He really needs me to be his biggest fan, respect him and his decisions with church, listen instead of give advice, and to take care of the most important thing in his life, our family. There have been many times he would rather be at home then dealing with the church issues but knowing that I was committed to our family and taking care of things at home was a way I served him.