5 more necessities of an abundant church planting life {part 2}

this is a continuation of 5 necessities of an abundant church planting life. click here for the previous post. 

6. holding hands is best. with your spouse and your kids.

If your church is going to be successful, if your kids are going to make the transition well, if you’re going to keep your sanity, THEN hold hands with your husband and then take the hands of your children.

Hand holding says, “I’m in this with you.” And we need our husbands to hold our hands as we need to hold theirs. We need them to voice and act upon this so we’re not left on the sidelines.

Begin with nurturing your marriage. The DMV and your neighbors can wait. I’ve seen firsthand that it works best when you surrender to God’s leading and affirm your husband’s calling by embracing his hand on the journey. Everything else can wait.

Here’s why:

You’re married to a start-up man.

There’s a drastic difference between the established church pastor and your church planting husband. Not only does your husband preach, care for the congregation, and lead a staff, but he also advertises, fundraises, strategizes, and stresses. He will face opposition, have sleepless nights, question his calling and be very concerned for you and your family.

Here’s what you need to know;

Your start-up husband needs a stable wife!

A constant supporter.

A steady comfort.

An always pray-er.

A verbal encourager.

A supplier of his needs.

Hand holding with your kids is just as important.

Our kids pick up on our emotions. i’d venture to say it’s more so in a place that is unfamiliar to them. Our tensions translate uncertainty to them. Our disagreements as husband and wife convey disorder and chaos. However, our delights become their delights. Our peace flows to their minds. Our faith that is being stretched is modeled to them on the frontlines. The best way to enjoy church planting as a family is to hold hands. Warning: Don’t make the mistake of transitioning as a couple and then come back for your kids. Do it together! At times cover their eyes. This was a literal necessity for us. There was an early evening in the city when we were walking as a family along the embarcadero to meet some friends for dinner. As we were walking and talking, coming towards us where naked men on bicycles. Yeah, we're a little more used to the nakedness that can be found around the city than you probably are from reading this, but in that moment, we were shocked! My oldest immediately covered up MY eyes! We certainly use His wisdom to discern what our kids should and shouldn't be exposed to. That's why we must have them on this journey with us, so that we are their guides.

They receive life-giving lessons beside you. They are the ones who see you give a pack of crackers to the homeless man on the street or speak to the cashier about the new church in town. Tap into their stages of life, their personalities, their adventure levels and embrace their new home together. But as we say in our family, we want our kids to look back when they are older and say, “Thanks mom and dad! We’re grateful you went for it! We don’t regret any of it!”

You can kill two birds with one stone. Hold hands while developing a love for your city. Go on dates to different places. Get out with those kids.

 7. serve because you love God. 

Church planting usually requires “all hands on deck” from the beginning. You might be fulfilling roles you never dreamed of!

Look at this in two ways:

Be prepared to serve in whatever capacity is needed in the beginning, but

be paying attention to the discovery of your sweet spot -  how God wants to use your giftedness in the church. It could look very different from how you’ve served in previous churches or ministries.

Some of you serve in churches where there are titles already given or assumed about you. Co-pastor. First lady. Some churches represented here are still trying to figure out what the pastor does, let alone his wife!

Regardless, our church NEEDS to see us loving our husbands on Sunday and love serving His church.

I encourage you to have this discussion of your role in the church with your spouse. Not that he dictates where you serve or how you use your gifts, but church planting is a sweet partnership where you are stronger when serving side by side and when you’re on the same page. Share with each other expectations you have regarding your role within the church.

Consider these questions:

What does your spouse see you doing in the initial stages?

Where do you think you are best gifted to serve?

What are you passionate about seeing take place in your church?

I think it healthy to revisit these questions every few months. Church life is ever changing which means your activity is ever changing.

There’s a big disclaimer: Service in the church body has nothing necessarily to do with the fact you are a pastor’s wife. It has everything to do with your role in the start-up process of the church - your role as a servant in the church. Some of you have a strong passion to be very active in the leadership of the church. Others of you prefer to have a behind-the-scenes approach. Some want the only role of taking care of husband and kids on Sundays and serve the church during the week. Knowing your role within the church is for every church goer to determine. Ours included.

It’s necessary that we serve because we love God or church days become game-face days and we feel like we have to defend, block, or push our way through.

Ultimately, we serve best when we serve out of our passions. Use your passions, once lined up and surrendered to Christ, to best serve the local body of believers with whom you are entrusted. And as you journey on, be open to hand roles over to others, to delegate, to step back, to lead, to follow, to pray.

8. it’s not up to you. 

the Gospel is more far-reaching than you can imagine. the movement has been in place for thousands of years. it began at Pentecost. (Acts 2) we’re a part of it by planting - not starting. we can write whatever we want on twitter and facebook to make it seem that it’s up to us. but a well written book already says how it’s going and how it’s going to end. we must be faithful.

the greatest potential we have as church planter’s wives is to understand that there is ONE GOSPEL, yet many people and many ways to display it to our culture, our community, our churches.

A foundational verse for Ben and I has been Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in van. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

Meeting with Jilanna, another church planter’s wife in San Francisco, we were talking about how we’re given influence in our schools, neighborhoods, families. We talked about different ways we are gaining favor. Ways we are utilizing our gifts and personalities and time. But, we kept coming back to this truth, “it’s not up to us.” We do our part, but it’s God who makes hearts sensitive. It’s God who opens doors. It’s God who watches over my city and your city.

In Galatians 2, Paul speaks of something similar. The Gospel was being shared in Galatia by different people and in different ways. Verse 8, he writes, “(for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles).” And it keeps getting more powerful, for James and Cephas and John, who were already there, said to Paul, (emphasis added) “welcome guys!”

Jilanna and I live 9 blocks away in a city of one million. That seems close, but there’s so much darkness, we need more.

Who has God called you to reach?

Where do you live?

start there.

Taking this even more personal, are you worn out from carrying this burden? This burden that it all depends on you? That it is all resting on your husband? Are you physically exhausted from shouldering this task of planting a church?

I get it. The church isn’t a chia pet. Partners are watching to see the church make progress. Your rent depends upon people coming and giving. You are a leader and are thinking through strategy and want to see results based on your effort, marketing, and networking.

Kay Warren says this in her book, Choose Joy, control what we can control and leave the uncontrollables up to God.

Open your hands to God the night before.

If you go into the ice cream shop hungry and with thoughts of chocolate, you’ll most likely cave. If you go to church on Sunday with tight fists and a stuffed ego, you’ll most likely control every situation you encounter.

But if you resolve in your heart that you’re full and can resist the sweets, you might just leave the ice cream shop like you can in...no added calories. If we resolve in our hearts the night before church and open our hands to God, surrendering our wills, our thoughts, and our control, we just might enjoy the blessing of being a part of the body of Christ rather than thinking we are the body! This is done through the worship of surrender. To lay before God what is already His to begin with.

 9. build a personal network of people. your health depends on it. 

at epic we have this motto: life is meant to be shared. you and i were created for “one another” life as I call it. this can be difficult in our role. i believe, even more so, as church planting wives. some of us are the only staff. others of us live thousands of miles away from a support group.

here’s what i call a personal network of people:

a close one, two or three. a circle of prayer warriors. those near by and those far away. people from your sending church. an online community with commonalities.

If we don’t take this upon ourselves, we get burnt out and lonely and wonder why. OR we enter this journey thinking we’ve got skills, ministry experience, twitter followers and that that will be enough.

It’s not! Even if you don’t need this network now, you will need it later. And honestly, it’s best to set it up when you’re healthy than when you’re desperate.

no one is going to build this for you.

how to build a personal network:

First you ask. Then you stick to it. You calendar times to meet. You set reminders to check in and give updates. You schedule prayer update emails. You plan times away with like-minded people, like exponential.

Small. Medium. Large.

I define small as 1-3 people. It’s intimate. Detailed questions are welcomed. Old school word would be accountability! A place where you can be raw.

I define medium as 4-8 people. A small group. Those you can send an email to who might live far away. A group of people who gather for coffee and talk common life like parenting, crafting, exercise, cooking, etc. A place where you’re heard.

I define a large group as 8 plus. A place you gather with like-minded people. Conferences, blogging communities, retreats. A place where you receive encouragement.

The small should take place weekly.

The medium network should take place monthly.

The large should take place a few times a year.

Your health depends on this personal network of people. You’ll go crazy trying to maintain life as a church planter’s wife without places to process out loud. When you start thinking, “I’m going crazy,” that’s the time to go small.

When you’re overwhelmed and need direction, go medium.

When you’re burnt out and need to be surrounded by people who understand, go large.

Note: Large never includes Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. That’s everyone else’s outlets. We need soul support. It’s an unhealthy sign when we are posting our private issues there. Sure, get and give recipes, leadership principles, updates on social media.

Also small might need to be a professional counselor. Don’t put on a friend’s shoulder what a counselor might need to hear. We will face circumstances and seasons when counseling is needed. This is not a bad thing. In fact, be a ministry couple that encourages it on the staff rather than fears it.

Advice: Make known to sending churches you need more than their money and prayer. You need care.

Who’s cell phone number do you have that you could text or call when you’re lonely and they’d get it? At the very least, they’d know how to pray?

We serve, we love, and we live best when we are surrounded by girls who are in this with us!

Who are you pouring into? Who’s pouring into you?

10. revisit His faithfulness often. 

this is crucial. otherwise we sulk and wallow in “what’s NOT.” And maybe the circumstances surrounding you are so bleak and blurry that you have to go all the way back to the cross - then go there.

know this old hymn? at the cross. at the cross, where i first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. it was there by faith i received my sight and now i am happy all the day.

You’ve trusted in Him for your very salvation, why do you doubt Him in earthly situations. {thought from Hannah Whitall Smith’s book, The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life}

1 Peter 1:7 says, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

keep a journal or Ebenezer stones.

Lamentations 3.19-24 says, “Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”

i love hearing from you and i know others benefit when they see that there are comments. please share what your learning and other necessities for ministry and leadership.