I’ve been in church planting circles for almost a decade now and have watched countless church planters start with zeal only to fizzle out and quit. The reasons are many, but they come back (often) to only two things.
What is sad about these the reasons is that they are the two least talked about topics on church planting circles.
Most church planters and pastors do not quit or fail in ministry because of theological issues or leadership skills. While this happens and you can lose your job because a denomination changes its stance on something or you fail in your leadership skills, that rarely happens.
The first reason pastors and church planters fail (that is not talked about enough) has to do with leadership health. I am stunned at the number overweight pastors, run down and tired church planters. We get excited about the preaching ability of a pastor but don’t ask him if he is resting well and taking his sabbath. It matters more if a pastor can raise enough money than if he is sleeping and eating well.
The second reason pastors and church planters faith (that is not talked about enough or at least correctly) deals with the pastor’s wife. It is helpful how many church planting networks are now assessing marriages and looking at the character of a man and how he pastors his wife. I’m not talking about that, but what happens in her heart.
One thing I hear from every network I encounter is how much they care about a church planters wife. Yet, when you attend any of their meetings, conferences, boot camps (or whatever else they call them), a wife is absent. We train him and expect her to come along for the ride. We ask him about his calling and assume she’s as excited as he is. We hear him talk about vision and leadership prowess and never ask if she’s excited about attending the church that exists only in his head.
I remember hearing the pastor of a fast growing church talk about his wife and what she did at the church as far as serving goes and he said, “I’m just glad she attends.” And he was serious. After the nervous laughter everything moved on and I thought, “That’s our bar? She attends.”
Sadly though, church planters, their networks and conferences and books would say it is more than that and they have a higher expectation than that, but our practices don’t back that up.
What if, the priority was placed on caring for a church planters wife, like we do for a pastor? What if we had an expectation that she was as bought in as he is? What if when we ask him how he is growing and what is he reading, we ask her the same question? What if we talked about leadership health for him and for her? What if we were impressed by how much time he gives his wife to refuel her soul as he does to refuel his own? What if we cared about connecting wives with each other as we do of having the brotherhood relate to each other?
I think a lot would change.
While affairs and pornography take down a lot of pastors, part of why it leads to that is we have not placed a high emphasis on the health and well-being of a church planters wife. We talk about the importance of marriage and staying together, but what about the importance of care