March 12, 2012

When Your Husband Wants to Church Plant (But You're Not So Sure)

Without any clear reasons why, Kyle and I attended an Acts 29 church planting bootcamp in 2007. We went to that bootcamp knowing God wanted change for us, but fully expecting that we would leave able to cross church planting off the list of possibilities. Honestly, at that time, I didn't even have a good understanding of what church planting actually entails. Less than a year later, Kyle had resigned his ministry position, we had raised both a team and financial support, we had moved across the country, and we had started the church he now pastors. 
This is why: because, through that bootcamp, I knew God was calling us to plant a church. 

This is how I knew: when the speakers, all experienced church planters, described the kind of man God uses to do this work, they described my husband. 

Church planting, they said, is a difficult and unique work. Similar to pastoring an existing church, it must be done by a qualified elder--able to teach, able to shepherd, able to lead, above reproach, respectable, hospitable. Too, it requires a competent elder able to fulfill the duties of leadership--prayer and Scripture study, leading and managing the church, caring for people, living an exemplary life, preaching and teaching correctly, working hard, rightly using money and power, and protecting the church. But then there is the unique work of church planting. The church planter must have the gifts of apostleship, leadership, evangelism, and teaching. He must work tirelessly, serve as the only elder until other elders are appointed, and have the ability to pull the church toward God's mission with the strength of an ox. 

During the bootcamp, Kyle and I stole away for conversation. Clearly, we said, God is speaking to our hearts. My husband questioned whether or not he was a church planter. I saw it instantly. I questioned whether or not I could be a church planting wife. He saw things in me that I couldn't see. 

Full of trepidation and uncertainty, we both affirmed to one another that we were available to God if this is what He wanted for us.

Our bootcamp conversation is what I thought of this week when I received this email:
My husband feels very called to church plant whereas I have a lot of doubts, fears, and sometimes just don't want to. I know I should submit to my husband's leadership but I also hear that, when church planting, the wife needs to be just as on board.
Without a doubt, both a husband and a wife must be on board. The church planting wife is as vital to the health of the plant as the church planter. Because of this, there must be honest conversation between the two of you before you jump in. 

If your husband wants to church plant, there are questions to ask about him. Has he sought counsel from experienced church planters and/or mentors? Does he meet the qualifications of an elder? Can he embrace and execute the requirements of a church planting elder? Does he see difficult things through? Is he faithful in leading your marriage and your family? You know the answers better than anyone else and you have a responsibility to speak into his life if you have hesitations. You also have a responsibility as his God-given wife to affirm his calling and help him fulfill it, even if it's something that scares you. 

If he is the man for the job and God is leading both of you down this road, then there are questions you must ask yourself. If you have hesitations, why? Are you informed about what church planting entails? Are you willing to sacrifice and serve in order to help your husband? Are your fears valid? Generally, wives are fearful of the instability, insecurity, and demands of church planting. I had fears and doubts, too, otherwise it wouldn't be an act of faith. Fear is not a reason to hinder your husband from fulfilling his call. If God calls you to something, He will provide what you need. You must get on board, not because you are submitting to your husband, but because you are submitting to the Lord. 

That is how you know: You ask Him with a heart to obey.

Readers, what would you say to the wife who wrote the email above?