No one is ever “officially ready” to plant a church, but there are essentials that help planters to be successful and not lose their souls in the process.
The first essential: You need a wife who is on board. The truth is, unless your wife is sold out to it, you probably won’t have much success in church planting.
A crucial component of this is to be on the same page as your wife about your calling and your ministry. Ask questions together such as:
“Is this really for us?”
“Why are we doing this?”
“Do you really want to do this, or do you just want to preach really bad?”
Do you both understand that you as the church planter will probably need to get another part-time job and your wife might have to go back to work? Are you guys okay with that for a season?
You don’t want to plant at the expense of your family, but you must go all in to do it well. Your wife can’t be crazy-town, Mrs. Super Needy, and you can’t be absent or disengaged with her and the kids. Plant a church in those circumstances and you will be miserable.
I think the “happy wife, happy life,” saying is a crock and contrary to the gospel story. Spouses unselfishly considering the other’s needs above their own is key to happiness in marriage. A husband must make SURE his wife is in it for the long haul. A wife who isn’t on board needs to also look in the mirror and ask why this is the case. Does she love comfort, routine, and money too much? Often that is the truth.
All ministry wives carry a unique calling. The weight on the senior pastor is great, making the role of senior pastor’s wife very different. Here are some tips to help keep your wife on board once you plant:
1. Remember there is no biblical office of the First Lady.
As your wife, she belongs to you, not the church. If you are at a traditional church, you might have to let some people know that. My expectation on my wife Krissie is that she be a good church member. I don’t expect her to be in the band, but she likes doing it, so she does. Her most important ministry is to me and our kids, and our church will be in better shape when that is the case.
If you want to punch Bob the deacon, she will too, and she doesn’t need to feel that way about Bob.
2. Don’t tell her everything.
By this I do NOT mean that you should keep things from her, but she doesn’t need to know every last piece of church business. You can help your wife love her church by not making her your therapist. If you want to punch Bob the deacon, she will too, and she doesn’t need to feel that way about Bob. My wife knows that anything she asks about I will share with her, but the cool thing is, she doesn’t ask a ton. She knows I don’t want to talk church when I get home, and that helps us stay normal.
3. Use your home for ministry.
Have people over! Be engaged together in relationships. We have people over a couple of times a week and it allows us to be good stewards of the house God has given us, and makes the large church where we are become smaller and more personal. That’s more important for a pastor’s wife than you might think.
4. Let people help you.
The demands of church planting are great. When others offer to help with the kids, or ask your wife if there is anything she needs in general, let people help. A leader told me once that when a church member offers to help you out and you refuse, it is actually offensive to that person, because he or she wants to love the pastor’s family in that manner. Your wife needs breaks. Let people help you.
I don’t believe in “happy wife, happy life,” but I do believe in “on board wife, healthy church plant and planter.”
Published April 20, 2015