October 23, 2013

Preparing Personally for Church Planting

A few months ago, I wrote about the ministry unhealthiness my husband and I had allowed to creep in and how it had affected us as individuals and as a couple. I wanted to address it openly because personal unhealthiness is such a common issue, especially in church planting. But I think in doing so, I may have scared a few of you in the process! Brittany wrote and said, "In all honesty this post makes me nervous. My husband and I are leaving in under a year [to church plant]. What can I begin to put into practice now as a wife and we as a couple [to prepare]?"

To Brittany and to all those cowering under the weight of my words, here's how I would answer that question:

  • Please don't be nervous. God called you, and He will give you what you need to fulfill this calling. My favorite church planting verse says this very thing: "He who called you is faithful, and He will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24). 
  • Don't be nervous, but don't be naive either. You're headed to the front lines, and there should be some holy trepidation as you go forward as a steward of the gospel. So you must cling to the Conqueror who leads you to the front lines. If you aren't daily in the Word, do whatever it takes to make this is a priority. I'm not talking about rote Bible reading, I'm talking about heart dependence on the Person of God. God and His gospel are what will hold you when all other securities fail.
  • Remind yourself daily Who it is that builds and sustains the church. Hint: it's not you or your husband. Recalling this truth will save you from the most destructive of sins (pursuing success to the detriment of your family and marriage) and the deepest of discouragements.
  • Embrace the adventure of it all. This is faith in action! Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead as soon as possible.
  • As a couple, commit together to priorities for your souls, your marriage, and your children. When will you spend time in the Word? When will you spend time together? Will this time be used to talk about the church? How will you save money to do fun things as a family? What are your individual needs and how can the other help meet those throughout this process? 
  • Begin connecting with other pastors and pastor's wives in the city you'll be planting. Develop relationships and friendships. Ask them questions about the city, about the culture, about church planting, and LISTEN. Plan to be a team player in your city.
  • Begin coordinating schedules and calendars once a week with your husband. Kyle and I use Google Calendar and we talk about schedules each Sunday evening. We use this time to gauge if a slow-down is needed or if there are openings where, for example, we can invite someone over for dinner. We get date nights on the calendar, and we reserve one weekend a month far in advance where we will not do anything ministry-related for the sake of our family. We also use these Sunday night times to talk about how we can be praying for another. These times are a good connection point.
  • If you are not already doing so, begin practicing Sabbath rest.
  • Develop a mentor relationship. If that is not readily available to you, develop a list of people who will pray for you during the first few years. Call on these people to pray for you when you're struggling, discouraged, or feeling uncertain.
See? There are lots of things you can do to prepare! The most important thing you can do is commit to working together as a team with your husband. If you're both committed to the Word, to marriage and family, to Sabbath, to team-building in the city, and all the other things I mentioned, you'll be just fine. In fact, working in tandem in all areas makes for a powerful, kingdom-impacting couple!

Church planting wives, what advice would you give Brittany and other women as they head into church planting? How can they best prepare?