Church Planter’s Wife

          Church planters are the upfront guys in ministry.  Often neglected is the importance of the church planter’s wife, mostly behind the scenes, yet absolutely indispensable. I can’t tell you how many times in thirty years of ministry I have seen men called to plant or pastor churches who assumed their wives would just get in line at some point.  When the marriage suffered or the couple returned prematurely from the field the cause for failure was often imputed to the wife. She didn’t follow her husband. She didn’t submit. What we find in reality is that the husband was a bonehead, or macho, or mistook dictatorship for leadership.

          It used to be said that when a missionary family mysteriously left the field there were three reasons: the reason the missionary gave, the reason the church or mission agency gave, and the real reason. In my experience the real reason has more often than not been connected to marital discord, usually incipient before engaging in full-time ministry and magnified when together day-to-day in a way not previously experienced.  Many men go through seminary while working a full-time job and serving in a local church. What may suffer at that time is family life. Couples see each other in snatched moments of their busy lives, presume all’s well, and blindly head toward full-time service. When finally in ministry, in another season of life, they get to know each other in a different way and may not like what they see.

          I would say to men that you need to make sure your wife is not only behind you but at your side, that you don’t assume that your call is her call, that you go nowhere without her wholehearted support. You don’t need to be in ministry badly enough to lose your family.  I am sure that there were times in my life and ministry that I assumed too much from my wife, bull headedly plowed ahead without adequately preparing my wife and children, and thank God for His grace that after all that, she has stayed by my side.

          I don’t know if my wife reads my blogs but I want to render homage to her that after thirty-two years of marriage and almost as many in ministry she has faithfully stood by her man. Without our wives we might have appearances but have no real ministry. Take some time today to tell your wife how much you need and appreciate her and when you sense God’s leading to serve somewhere, please consider your wife and God’s calling on her life. You need to provide leadership but He will work in both your lives to accomplish His purposes.


4 Responses to “Church Planter’s Wife”

  1. Amen to that! 
    In all the years that we have known you both, we always felt you got the best in the marriage! 
    She is a godly woman who I both admire and am priveleged to know as a friend!  We love and miss you guys!

  2. No doubt. I married way out of my class. That's God's grace.

  3. I really appreciated this article.  Unfortunately, I was part of a church planting team a few years back where this scenario played out.  And yes, it was made out to be the wife's fault, even though we warned the husband for years.  And the devastating affects are still felt by alot of people.  I feel very burdened for the "support couples" of the church planting team to be vigilant not only in their own marriages, but also in keeping watch on the marriage of the lead pastor.  Do not accept gospel-centered excuses for neglect.  Do not be afraid to confront, even if it always leads to rejection or intimidation.  Do not believe everything you are told.  And do whatever it takes to make sure that the root of bitterness is not allowed to spread throughout the church.

  4. Thanks for your comments Rick.  It's sad to hear about these experiences and I hope yours serves as a warning for all of us.

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