Spouse care: Interview with Kathy Litton

Send Network: You have been on staff at NAMB for more six years. Tell us about your recent transition to join the Send Network team.

Kathy Litton: My original assignment was as a consultant to pastor’s wives, which was a very broad context. Since my hiring in 2011, NAMB has continually moved to an increasingly greater focus on church planting. Simultaneously, the need to serve planters’ wives has increased. After conversations with Dr. Kevin Ezell, he believed it was time to create a new space in the Send Network for enhanced planter spouse care. It is my joy to be able to fill this role.

SN: This is a new vision and new position for the Send Network. You are still in the early days of your role, but could you share a glimpse of the future for spouse care at NAMB?

KL: NAMB is very aware of these important facts regarding planter’s spouses—she is the key in the long-term health and success of her husband’s ministry. She is his greatest resource for his own personal health and well-being. Plus, she partners beside him in the demanding work of ministry in a plethora of ways. God can powerfully use her influence, leadership and gifts. Since all these things are true, she deserves and needs life-giving support and care.

I have become part of the recently renamed “Planter and Spouse Care Team.” This team has built a world-class system of care to planters and now is robustly committed to provide same quality care for spouses. Even in my short tenure in this role, I have seen NAMB make significant financial deposits into creating a culture of care that focuses on wives.

Since women thrive best in relationships with women locally who know and understand their contexts—we are identifying and engaging Spouse Care Advocates in our Send Cities. These are women whose hearts are wired to care for and support planters’ spouses. These advocates will be trained, empowered and resourced to build relationships, create a stronger community to deliver improved care and support. We will then be able to deliver training and coaching relationally and locally.

SN: Kathy, you have a unique journey that has crafted your passion and heart for church planting. Would you share that story?

KL: In 1991 my husband, Rick Ferguson and I relocated to Denver, Colorado, as he had been called to be Senior Pastor at Riverside Baptist Church. In 1994, Rick was powerfully and clearly led to begin planting churches in that vastly unreached city. He created a “network” of churches well before that language become common—and set out planting churches in the Front Range of Colorado and beyond. In 2002, he was killed in a car accident. At the time of his death, 25 churches had been planted out of Riverside. At 45 years old, I had become a widow. Obviously, it was a brutal time of loss, grief and sadness. Honestly, I was confused and disoriented spiritually as I tried to reconcile the hand of God in our lives. Rick’s death made no sense on many levels—including the reality that Rick was carrying the torch of church planting in Denver, leading our church to selflessly give away resources and people to see new churches started. Yet I have the unimaginable privilege now to watch an unmistakable movement of church planting. It thrills my heart. While God’s ways are mysterious, He never relents in advancing His kingdom. My passion for planting, born in my heart beside Rick Ferguson, has never been higher.

SN: Recently you just led the first ever Spouse Care Summit in Atlanta. Tell us about that gathering.

KL: Wow! Thirty-three women representing our 32 Send Cities assembled in Atlanta for a jam packed 24 hours.

These women will serve as Spouse Care Advocates to create a culture of care in each city that will robustly give care, support and create community for wives. Each of these women has a passion to see our planter spouses thrive spiritually, build life-giving relationships and engage ministry at their highest capacity. Their energy and passion was clear—much synergy was created in our gathering. These women are strong leaders deeply invested in our Send Cities.

Planters’ wives need someone who really understands the unique context of planting—they desperately need to know each other. Each city was tasked and funded to create simple, unstructured experiences where women can genuinely connect to build life-giving community. In the coming years, we want to deliver training and coaching opportunities, but first we must be laser-focused, creating powerful wives’ community in each city.

I shared this quote by Alan Hirsch: Never underestimate the power of a heroic band of brothers and sisters setting out on a risky journey to participate in the unfurling of the kingdom of God in the place where God sends them.” I reminded these women to never underestimate what timely care and support can mean on this “risky journey” for our sisters—planters spouses.

His words deeply resonated with me—they have a become a prayer of mine:

“God, enable me to support, encourage and empower the heroic band of brothers and sisters setting out on a risky journey to unfurl the kingdom of God in the places where God sends them.”

Published November 9, 2017