Loving Your Family While Planting a Church

Episode 651: Planting a church inevitably creates enormous pressures on the planter’s family. Host Ed Stetzer discusses guardrails against those stresses with Jessica Thompson, director of operations for the New City church planting network, and James Hobson, lead pastor of Hill City Community Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • Guardrails that can make church planting a thriving time for planter families
  • Four major considerations for a family when planting a church
  • How a planter can find a healthier relationship with his wife
  • Warning signs of problems that might be brewing

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Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

A lot of time and effort is devoted to getting a church plant up off the ground. It requires a lot of the planter, as well as their family. Sometimes they lean too heavily on the family to fill in gaps where there aren’t staff and volunteers and leaders to help. – Jessica Thompson

Any prospective planter out there. You’re in a church right now. You’re about to finish seminary. I mean this with great seriousness: Don’t plant. Do something else. You want to be a teaching pastor? Just be a teaching pastor. – James Hobson

You want to test your marriage? Plant a church. – James Hobson

When people are coming to your church plant, they’re wanting to see an established church. If you want to plant a church, I pray you and your wife have counted the cost. – James Hobson

I don’t want to raise up or send out any church planters who haven’t fully counted the cost of what it’s gonna take. – James Hobson

When we go through assessments of church planters, not only are we evaluating the planter, but is the wife ready? Is the family engaged and knows what it’s going to take? Because it’s going to be a sacrifice for everybody. – Jessica Thompson

The spouse has to be on board. That is a key reality, because there is a price to be paid. @EdStetzer

One of the things Clint Clifton says all of the time to our planters is, “Stop trying to balance family and ministry. There’s always one that’s out of balance.” Instead of balance, try to blend. How can we find ways to normalize doing ministry with family? – Jessica Thompson

Two things: The planter’s wife doesn’t have to be friends with everybody in the church. And she is not the co-pastor of the church. @EdStetzer

I love when I see a husband and wife functioning and both equally engaged, but don’t impose upon your spouse the expectation you saw someone else’s spouse at some other church plant do. @EdStetzer

I wasn’t emotionally healthy enough to really be honest with my wife about what I did expect of her. I see a great vision statement for your church. What’s the vision statement for your family? I see the next 10 years for our church. What’s the next 10 years for our kids? – James Hobson

Set aside time. Carve out times where you’re focused on family. Be intentional about not letting them get deleted from your calendar. – Jessica Thompson

All of us thrive better under structure, so it might mean making some dinner reservations a couple of weeks out. It may mean signing up to be your kid’s Little League coach so you have to leave work at 5 and go hang out with him. – Jessica Thompson

Institute some things in your life that are going to draw you away from work toward your family. That is just as important as the vision casting and the leadership you’re implementing in your church. – Jessica Thompson

Counseling is not a bad word. I feel like the world is better at this than us. – James Hobson

Counseling is essentially somebody who has a doctorate in everything you’re going through, and they’re gonna give you solid gold – and we’re like, “Nah, I’ll pray about it.” – James Hobson

If you haven’t made any deposits in your marriage, when you go to withdraw and you’ve got nothing in the account, you’re gonna crumble. – James Hobson

We had what we called a Pastoral Apprentice Team. We required them to go through counseling during that time – and we paid for it – before they went out to plant churches. @EdStetzer

Added stress may reveal existing problems and could also bring new problems. We’ve got to normalize counseling. I probably sacrificed some of our relationship on the altar of ministry. @EdStetzer

Create some healthy boundaries and paths. Prioritize your family as you do this church planting journey. @EdStetzer

Published March 22, 2022

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