“Can we put it off 6 months?” This was the question that my wife asked me as I was preparing to begin the groundwork ministry for our church plant. She had really been distant for a few weeks even angry at times and while I was certain I had probably done something to deserve it I honestly couldn’t figure out what I had done. When I asked her about it she told me that yes she was angry but she wasn’t even sure why. Then everything came to a head one day and she asked if we could meet up for lunch. Of course I said yes and there we sat at the Panera Bread with tears in our eyes knowing that we really had reached one of those pivotal moments – not just in ministry – in marriage.
As she talked to me she said that she did not want to go through this church planting journey, having grown up in a new church she saw what it did to the pastor and to his family, how he had divorced and she was not willing to risk our family. I completely understood her anxiety and I didn’t want to do anything to risk our family either but I couldn’t escape this sense of calling, this sense that this is what we were supposed to do. You see during all of the preparation and visioning time I had been on my own. I would come home from these trainings and events and be all excited about planting and the adventure involved. My wife wasn’t a part of any of those events; I was much farther down the planting path than she was. Finally she asked if we could put it off six months and spend those six months in prayer about the whole thing. I agreed.
So we put the brakes on and we prayed. We spent time praying over the city and over our family and asking for God’s direction in our ministry. At the end of the time she was beginning to sense that perhaps we were called to do this. When it came time for me to go to the last bit of my planter training, Boot Camp, I took her with me and by the end of the week she was more excited about it all than I was. Including her was pivotal to our plant not being something I was doing but something we were doing.
In the end, I would suggest 4 things for your family during your time in church planting:
- Open communication: If we had not had that lunch early on and been open and honest with each other there’s no telling what might have happened.
- Prayer: My wife is not someone who prays, she is a woman of prayer. Her commitment to lead us in that discipline has meant the world to our ministry and our plant.
- Supportive Leadership: When I told the Sr. Pastor of our mother church where I was on staff and our conference’s Director of New Church Development that we needed to wait six months and why they both said, “Absolutely and we will join you in prayer.”
- Total Family Buy In: We had close to 70 meetings in our home the first year of our plant, without having the whole family on board with what you’re doing it’s not going to work.
If you take anything from this post please take this – don’t sacrifice your family on the altar of church planting (or any ministry for that matter). Your best witness and evangelistic tool for your plant is going to be a happy and healthy marriage and family that’s on board with the mission.