Replanting as a family

By Jason Helmbacher

Replanting is difficult, unconventional ministry. As a replanter, I had to wear many hats I had not worn in previous pastoral environments. Whether it was working on the building (they don’t teach construction at seminary!) to the important the work of recruiting, hosting, training, and leading volunteer teams, to the work of pastoral ministry itself (hospital visits, creating fresh systems for student and family ministry, etc.), our entire family has had to work together to accomplish everything.

And it has been fun! I’m sure my children did not plan to spend their school breaks and summers doing ministry and working on an old building, but they have come to understand the very thing we are trying to teach our members: All believers are missionaries where they “live, work, and play.”

And play!

I asked my kids what has been the most fun these past two years. Here’s what they said:

  • Exploring our church facility and finding all sorts of “old stuff from the 50s” (such as trophies, basketball uniforms, office equipment, and pictures).
  • Experiencing different international cultures in our community.
  • Going to lots of St. Louis Cardinals baseball games.
  • Exploring all there is to do in St. Louis (Gateway Arch, zoo, museums, parks, Science Center, Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard).
  • Getting closer to my family while we work together.

Instead of bemoaning an aged facility, we viewed it as an adventure, Why? Because it is our mission center. Including our kids in reparing and remodeling it helped us catch a a fresh vision of making it a missional space for our community and for their friends. Letting them get their hands dirty in the remodel allowed us to work together and have fun, and it built in a sense of unity in our family for the ministry God has called us to at our church.

Many partner churches sent volunteer teams, who loved, encouraged and blessed our children during the weeks they served our church. In the early years, when there were not many other children or youth, spending time with the youth groups or children who came to serve helped our children not feel alone.

Replanting is difficult, but it can be a great way to bring your family together. Your community has different activities and experiences to offer than ours does here in St. Louis, but it’s your mission field. Get out with your kids and have fun exploring and experiencing all it offers!

Published July 4, 2018

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Jason Helmbacher

Jason Helmbacher is a Replanter at Church at Affton. He served as an IMB missionary in Bosnia and is replanting in the epicenter of the largest population of Bosnians outside their home country. He and his wife, Rachelle, live in St. Louis along with their two children.