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April 20, 2018

Dear Church Planter

By Annie Garman

Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to talk to a room full of church planters and their wives and read the following letter.  It’s not my intention to cause any marital problems (wives…be careful how you use this letter!), but rather to remind you of what might be going on in your wife’s head.

Dear Church Planter,

If you’d be willing to listen, I’d like to share Five Things Your Wife Wants You to KNOW, but may not be able to articulate yet.

Perhaps I’ll be way off…but these things are things that I’ve wanted my husband to know as he’s gone about the arduous work of starting a church.

“I want to know that I’m more important to you than the success of the church plant.”

Please don’t misunderstand. It’s your wife’s job to look to Christ alone for the unconditional acceptance, affirmation, understanding, and intimacy that only He can provide. She will have to battle this every day.  

But, men…your wife wants to know where she ranks. When it comes down to it, convince her through your time management that you care more about her flourishing than the flourishing of the church plant.

Guard yourself against temptations to make the church better while ignoring the cracks that are starting to form in your relationship with your wife. Give as much creative energy to her as you do to the church plant.

At the end of the day, she wants to know that you cherish her more than a room filled to seating capacity. Convince her that she’s worth the sacrifice too.

“I don’t necessarily want to be your free second staff member.”

If you want a healthy marriage, don’t plan the church calendar with the assumption that your wife will come to and help with everything.

Just like YOU don’t want to be the solution to every problem in the church, your wife CAN’T be the solution to every problem that you have. Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on her part.

This is not to say that she won’t be happy to help…but don’t presume upon this. Simply ask her. Let her give of herself freely to the Lord instead of manipulating her and pressuring to serve in the ways you need.

“I don’t want to be your free staff member, but I still want to be a part of the team.”

Everything in the above paragraph is true. At the same time, if your wife is a follower of Christ, she cares just as much as you do about the church’s success. She wants to contribute in significant ways. Help her find her God-given gifts and passions. Help her develop them. Encourage her and give her space to use them.

“Your decisions affect me.”

Many of your scheduling decisions will affect your wife, so get ready to communicate A LOT about this. When will you spend time reading the Bible with your own family? When will you make sure all distractions are turned off so you and your wife can have time to talk and reconnect?

As your plan your weekly church calendar, be mindful of what it will cost your wife. You can ask for others to be flexible instead of always being the one to be flexible at the expense of your family.

“I’m in your corner.”

Assume that your wife has your best interests at heart. If you bounce an idea off of her and she has a lot of questions, don’t get easily offended. Perhaps she’s just trying to understand the idea, its implications, and all the logistics that it will involve. Don’t rush to believe that “she never likes any of my ideas.” Remember that she’s in your corner and will stand by you even if this church plant is a total bust.

Men, I understand your work is grueling and some days every part of your being is stretched to maximum capacity. I also know your wife isn’t perfect and doesn’t always do a good job meeting your needs (if she’s anything like me).

But, I also know the stakes are high.

Beg God to do a work in your heart to love and cherish your wife as unto the Lord.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annie Garman

Annie B. Garman is a pastor’s wife and mother to four excitable girls, and author of Unexpected Grace: When Your Child is Born With Half a Heart. She and her family serve at Pillar Church in Northern Virginia where the traffic is thick, but the church planting opportunities abound. Their network of churches is attempting to plant a reproducible gospel-centered church at every Marine Corps base around the world (praetorianproject.org). Her biggest passion is to know Christ and make Him known in whatever situation she finds herself in. Annie shares her thoughts on motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life at anniebgarman.com.

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