The challenges of being a replanter’s wife

By Barb Bickford

When we began the process of replanting our church, it was all new to me. I didn’t know any other couples who were replanting, so it felt like we were pioneers. I’m sure many of you have shared the same feeling. It’s exciting and refreshing to follow God’s plan into the unknown.

But it’s also a bit frightening.

We dove into this adventure hand in hand, but my husband was definitely the leader. I am naturally an encourager, so I was happy to cheer him on in all ways. I never gave thought to the fact that I might need some encouragement too. I knew he would be challenged by many different circumstances and difficult people — but I didn’t realize how many challenges I would face as well.

The biggest challenge for me has been the spiritual warfare our family experienced. It makes sense to me that my husband, as the leader and pastor of our church, would experience attack. But Satan doesn’t stop at the point man. Our family experienced a great deal of spiritual warfare — the most difficult being the attack on our kids. Our youngest experienced a great deal of sleep troubles, nightmares, and unexplained health issues that she had never experienced before. These were long and drawn out. On more than one occasion, I woke up in the night sensing great spiritual darkness in our bedroom and home. During those attacks, I would call out confidently in the name of Jesus for the darkness to leave, and it did.

I personally experienced a different kind of attack from a person who was in a position of leadership at church and in close fellowship with our family. She had uncommunicated expectations of me, and I hadn’t fulfilled those expectations. It all came to a head in a meeting with our husbands and another pastor friend who was there to mediate. She verbally attacked me in a way I had never experienced. It felt like a physical assault, even though she didn’t touch me.

Hopefully you have not had to — and will not have to — experience these same challenges. However, there are a number of challenges in replanting that are common, regardless of context. Perhaps regular attenders are unhappy with your husband’s leadership, even sharing unkind words or thoughts with you, in an effort to get him to change. Or maybe longtime members and regular attenders threaten to leave if certain things don’t change.

When these struggles happen, it is so easy to give in to the flesh and feel angry and frustrated. I learned I had to take specific situations to the Lord, asking for help with my fears and feelings and for wisdom in how to handle the situations. I had to rest in his grace, trusting that He would heal my wounds in a way only He can.

In most church replants, we as wives are called to fill the gaps. We find ourselves serving in areas of need, not necessarily out of or from our gifting. We might find ourselves frustrated that people in our church body are less than fully committed. We may grow weary and want a break, but don’t see one on the horizon. Circumstances like these can plant seeds of bitterness and allow resentment to grow in our lives. It is important for us to ask Jesus to guard your heart and to remain watchful that this doesn’t happen.

For me, finding peace in my time with the Lord has been the best remedy. Spending time in prayer and in His word softens my heart and keeps me heading in the right direction. Psalm 31:14-15 says, “But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying You are my God! My future is in your hands.”

Words like these are the best encouragement!

Published February 8, 2018

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Barb Bickford

Always valuing and looking for a way to refresh items of antiquity, Replanting was a natural choice. Barb and Bob, her husband of over 30 years, have spent that same amount of time in various ministry settings together. They most recently spent over nine years replanting a church in the St Louis metro. Barb has had the opportunity to encourage other Replant pastor wives in small group settings, as well as being a speaker at various NAMB events such as Am I a Replanter and The Replant Summit. She enjoys encouraging and praying for women in ministry, specifically Replant wives. Barb is Mama to three incredible young adults, Gammy to five of the most precious little humans and dog mom to rescued pittie mixes Dax and Daisy.