What do church planting wives need to thrive?
In Research Findings on Church Planting Spouses, when wives were asked specifically about the availability of support systems, the research disturbingly reported the planting wife’s spouse was their only support system. The research read:
“When we conducted quantitative research, spouses did not report the presence of a support system apart from their husbands. The type of support needed is not just time spent with others. Often women’s groups can be even more isolating for the planter’s wife as they reinforce how different her life is from others. The support needed comes from other women in the same field or from the rare person who knows how to listen and ask appropriate questions without judgment or quick fixes.”
In other words, these women need each other. They need sisterhood.
THE NEED FOR SUPPORT FROM SIMILAR CALLINGS
In the survey, this need for support from one who shares her same calling was reported as their second highest need.
The planter can more readily find his support system as his connectivity and relationship building with his peers is a bit more accessible. Yet sisterhood can be very challenging for spouses to build in their cities.
How do we build sisterhood?
- Sisterhood must become a priority.
Sisterhood must become a priority for our network, the planter and the planting wife.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has prioritized development of wives in Send Network by shifted strategy, budget dollars and personnel to serve our wives better. Part of that development is to build community and relationships among women in our cities. My role as Spouse Development Team Lead was born to increase support, care and equipping.
As husband and shepherd, the planter should make his wife’s ability and availability to connect with other planter spouses his priority. Her ability to connect with other planting spouses can be a matter of her survival. He should be proactive to clear his calendar, urge her to connect with other planting wives and then cover all demands (children) that might possibly prevent her from gathering with women.
Planting wives often feel isolated and lonely, and connecting with other wives is difficult. They have little margin as many work and/or have children. They are pouring out emotionally in a variety of ways and the emotional energy required to meet new faces just seems overwhelming. She must try — even as she has little energy to spare — yet the potential for life-giving relationships can be just on the other side of her effort. Her emotional and spiritual health may be at stake. Husbands, your urging can make a difference here, and it must be a priority for her as well.
- Spouse events must foster sisterhood.
All women’s gatherings do not lend themselves to creating sisterhood. Women need time and space to talk. While going to the movies is a true treat, it might not be the best forum for meaningful conversations. A lot of thought must go into events to create an atmosphere that lets women not only get acquainted but even go deeper. We must be intentional and strategic.
Painting parties have proved to be super helpful in many cities. Women are together in confined a space, moving around for three hours or so and focusing on a task. All those ingredients make for ease of conversation, opportunity to connect and a good amount of time.
- Identify barriers and attempt to address them.
Women have little discretionary time. Some are fighting some of the world’s worst traffic, work 40-50 hours a week, are exhausted mothers with infants, are shy or speak little or no English.
Women are throwing so much of themselves into their church plants, their families and their communities. There are many things that keep them away from spouse events.
The men and woman leaders in each city must identify barriers and find a way to mitigate any barriers they can. Find ways to address language barriers, break your city down in regions, offer variety to time options and work hard to create a social atmosphere that attracts women’s participation. Innovate for workable solutions. We can’t expect a one-size-fits solution.
We can’t make all barriers go away but we must do what we can.
- Get the right women involved.
Leadership matters. We need women with relational capital and relational capacity.
Wise leadership leverages women who can not just plan an event but can bring warmth, energy and the ability to create an engaging atmosphere. A team of well-rounded women is the best solution. No one person can carry the weight of creating sisterhood.
Utilize women with the relational capacity to grow sisterhood.
The Spouse Development Team exists to advocate and provide the best care and support possible for church planting wives. We are working behind the scenes to create infrastructure and processes that can make sisterhood possible locally.
Pray for us that we see the bonds of sisterhood flourish in our cities and churches.
To learn more about the Spouse Development Team and how you can flourish as a church planting wife, connect with us on Facebook at Send Network Spouse Development.
Published August 25, 2021