July 2, 2013

How Sending Churches Can Help Planters and Their Wives

Prior to planting, my husband served on the staff of an established church in Texas. When God called us into church planting, Kyle approached the senior pastor at this church and explained what was happening in our hearts. The pastor said, “We’re on board with you and will help you in whatever way we can.” And they did. They became our primary sending church, providing financial and people support that enabled us to carry out our calling.

This support was not only directed toward my husband but also toward me. As a church planting wife, I needed that support. I needed to know that, although we felt alone and that we were carrying a huge burden on our own, we weren’t by ourselves at all. I craved biblical encouragement that would help me persevere, and not just persevere, but persevere with faith and joy. Our sending church’s support made all the difference for me and for your marriage and family.

All church planting wives need support and encouragement. As pastors and leaders of existing churches, here’s how you can come alongside them and help them fulfill their calling.
Send But Keep Church Planters and Their Wives
It’s not enough to be a sending church that faithfully sends planters out or supports planters financially. In order for church planters and their families to thrive, they must be both sent and kept. Provide what they need to go, but don’t send and forget. Send and remember. Talk about the church plant with your church and provide prayer points so that the church can pray for the planter and his family. Invite the church planter and his family back regularly to share about what they’re doing, but don’t focus on results and numbers. Focus instead on the faithfulness of the sent and the faithfulness of God.

As a staff or group of elders, check in with both the church planter and his wife to gauge how they’re doing personally, spiritually, and in their marriage, and, if they need help, provide it. This especially hits to the heart of what the church planting wife needs from a sending church.

Provide Adequate Financial Support
Don’t be stingy with your financial support. Providing abundantly gives the church planting wife the freedom to not work outside the home, thus alleviating a main source of her stress in church planting. It also alleviates the stress of bi-vocational church planting, which is extremely difficult and puts pressure on the marriage and family unit most of all.

Send People
There are two ways to send people: by commissioning people to go with the plant and to send short term teams to help the church planter and his wife.  Encourage good people to consider being a part of the plant and send them out with joy, especially if the church plant is within the same city or close enough for many to consider joining in.

All sending churches, however, can provide backup and assistance through short term teams. Our sending church sent teams twice a year for the first four years and enabled us to blanket the city through service and outreach, something we could not do on our own and something that stirred a sense of mission in our own church plant. Short term teams should also consider how they can personally encourage the planter and his wife during these trips, such as restaurant gift cards with free babysitting for a date night or words of encouragement from home.

Create a Team Dynamic
Sending churches are not the only churches that can encourage church planting wives. Existing churches in the same city as the plant have countless opportunities to encourage church planters and their wives. My husband and I have been tremendously blessed by other church plants and existing churches in our area. We’ve been given chairs, the use of buildings for baptisms, Bible studies, and short term team housing, the use of church vans, friendship, and the wisdom and experience of those who’ve gone before us. The most helpful thing an existing church did for me as the church planting wife was provide childcare workers for the first few months of our plant, which enabled me to be a part of our service and to build relationships.

Value the Wife’s Role
The wife is equally as important to the health of a church plant as her husband. Her role is different, but much is required of her. A good sending church is one that understands this and that specifically seeks to encourage the church planting wife in her role.

Church planters cannot establish churches without the assistance of existing churches. And without a doubt, church planting wives cannot thrive without their support and encouragement. Be a good sending church—send and remember.
--originally written for ChurchLeaders.com