Apr 18, 2012
neil

Church planters need to understand the pressure on their spouses.

Sheri Thomas spoke at the City to City Network Leaders Conference yesterday on church planters and their spouses. Here are a number of key points that really struck me from what was said.

1)  Planters need to understand the pressure on their spouses.

That means planters need to spend time communicating deeply with their spouses on how planting or planning to plant is impacting their marriage – both positively and negatively.

It also means planters need to be aware, up-front, of the most common causes of pressure that face spouses and to factor into both church and marriage ways of recognising them and overcoming them.

2) Ministry will always win out over family unless deliberate steps are taken to prevent it.

Ministry will always be here. Family will grow up and leave. Make family a priority for their sake and for the sake of the church. Prioritise eating together, taking good holiday, celebrating together eg birthdays, etc.

3) Plan a retreat for church planters in your network so that planters and spouses can be refreshed and encouraged together or if that is not possible try and get together as a church planting couple with another church planting couple.

4) Boundary Ambiguity is a cause of stress and tension. What is the spouses role and responsibility in a plant? Is it clear and has it been communicated to the plant? What protection of boundaries are in place with regard to space especially when it comes to using the home a lot.

5.  Role ambiguity. Just how involved does she have to be and how might that role change over time and if children are involved.

6. Isolation is an issue. Groups of church-planting spouses need the opportunity of meeting together and talking about their roles and situations

7. The greatest fear for a church planting spouse is often the fear that she cannot do it all and yet all is expected of her.

8. The marriage is the biggest thing as to whether the plant will make it or not. Therefore assessing a church planter must involve assessing the church planter spouse. The person most likely to want to pull the plug on planting is probably an overburdened  spouse.

So in order to protect the marriage in a church planting situation we need to ask:

How is the marriage functioning ?

When it comes to boundary ambiguity does she fight (ie take issue with the plant and how its impacting her in negative ways eg. gossip or even undermining her husband publically) or flight (by becoming withdrawn and isolated)? Does she recognise and want to respond to these temptations in a godly way?

What does she do with problems as they arise in church? Does she have the level of maturity to cope with this?

Is she supportive – does she believe in her church-planting husband? If she doesn’t it’s going to be very hard for them both and the plant.

Who are the people she is going to open up with? Different subjects, different depths.

 

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