How can I get Involved in replanting dying churches? Pt.2: Encourage
Replanting is not for everyone. It takes a particular gift mix and a clear calling from the Lord. And, like every other ministry, serving as a pastor of a church replant can be very discouraging at times.
Replanting a congregation definitely has its ups and downs. It can be discouraging when young families visit but don’t stay because your congregation can’t offer the same level of children’s programming as the large church down the street. A replanter can become discouraged when the congregation is not catching his vision for living on mission and reaching the lost in the community or when even the smallest change you try to implement is met with pushback for all kinds of silly reasons.
While it is critical to intentionally encourage and care for replanters, it is just as important to care for and support the replanter's wife and children. Ministry of any kind can be very hard on a pastor’s family. Replanting a church brings unique pressures and challenges that not only affect the replanter, but also his wife and kids as well. This is why it is so vital to have Christian brothers and sisters, like you, who intentionally encourage these replanters and their families over the long haul.
Let’s consider several practical ways you can do this.
Writing notes of encouragement
Few things are more encouraging than a kind, uplifting word from a friend. This is why notes of encouragement are so powerful. Perhaps you can get others from your church involved in this ministry and periodically throughout the year send a large bundle of encouragement notes to the replanter and his family. Whatever it looks like, this is a simple but powerful way to care for this dear family.
Sending gift cards and flowers
Another way to regularly encourage a replanter's wife and kids is to surprise them with special gifts periodically. Gift cards to a favorite local restaurant, toy store, book store, gift store, or spa (for Mom, of course) might be exactly what they need. Sending a bouquet of flowers from time to time also is a simple, thoughtful gesture to express your care for the replanter's wife. Be intentional about surprising them with these types of thoughtful gifts.
Pray for them —and let them know when you do
One of the most powerful and encouraging things you can do for a replanter and his family is pray for them intentionally and consistently. Regularly ask them how you can pray for them specifically. Be sure to let them know you are lifting them up to the Lord on a regular basis. Perhaps you can share specific prayer requests with others in your church who can join you in praying for this family.
Surprise them with a book or magazine
Select a "book of the month" or subscribe to magazines and devotional guides to send to the replanter, his wife, and children. This will be an ongoing source of encouragement and edification for them. This communicates intentional care for their spiritual growth in the Lord, especially in the midst of ministry challenges that are sure to come.
Invite the replanter's wife to women's events
A powerful way to encourage the replanter's wife is to find a way for her to take part in special women’s events that are happening in other churches. Special retreats or conferences that women in your church will be attending, for instance, are great events to invite her to join. The reality is this: Chances are that in the replant there will be very few opportunities for her to focus on her own spiritual growth and fellowship with other godly women. You and your church can help immensely with this.
Shoot text message reminders of God’s promises from His Word
God's Word is so encouraging. Make it a habit to remind the replanter and his family of the specific promises of God and other wonderful truths in Scripture. As followers of Jesus, we can be very forgetful. We need to be reminded regularly of who God is and who we are in Christ. As the apostle Peter wrote to fellow believers in 2 Peter 1:12, "I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have."
Give them a phone call once in awhile
While notes of encouragement are powerful, spoken words of love and encouragement are even more so. There is nothing like hearing words from someone who cares about you that build you up. A phone call doesn't need to be super long, it just needs to happen! Even if you are not a big talker, I want to encourage you to be an agent of God’s love and encouragement in the life of this family! Recruit others from your church who can join you in this. Trust me, these phone calls will be a source of great joy, not only for the replanter and his family, but for you as well.
Send birthday cards
Who doesn’t love to get a birthday card? Sending personal birthday cards is a wonderful reminder to this family that they are loved and that others are thinking about them. Be sure to send a fun little gift with their birthday card as well!
A few more encouragement ideas to encourage the whole family:
- Zoo day
- Professional baseball game day
- Weekend in the mountains or at the beach
- Amusement park or water park day
- Surprise tray of cookies, popcorn, or cupcakes
- Family movie night (Redbox, pizza, popcorn)
To encourage the replanter's wife:
- Starbucks gift card and a book
- Gift certificate to have the house cleaned
- Spa gift card
- Surprise lunch with other pastor’s/leader’s wives