Church Planting: Sustainable Planting (part three)

This is the fourteenth installment in a series based on my adventures in planting a church.  For more information on the series, or to see what else we have walked through, check out the original post.  My hope is to use this series to develop a resource for planters as they are thinking about diving in, or need to process their current situation… this resource is incomplete without your contribution (that is a subtle way of saying leave a comment).

On Tuesday we began walking through how to protect your family while planting a church, or in any ministry role.  The ideas shared Tuesday and those shared today were compiled from conversations with friends who are planting, or have planted, churches… and have learned many of these lessons the hard way.

These thoughts are not just for church planters, they are applicable to anyone in ministry, however the intensity of the church planting journey is such that minor vulnerabilities and weaknesses that might be easily worked through in a normal church setting will be highly combustible in a church planting situation.  So, how do we plant sustainably?  Here are four more suggestions for your journey:

  • Rest.  I realize this was mentioned last week, but this is important.  More important that we realize.  Let me be clear: not having a regular day off, or taking advantage of vacation days does not make you tough, hardcore, or more holy… it makes you stupid.  That may be harsh… but it is true.  Sabbath is also important for your family.  While you may be the official church planter, your family is planting with you… and needs rest as well.  You need to recognize (and be thankful for) this, and allow your family to have the opportunity to take time away as well.  Figure out how your family Sabbaths well, and do it.  Take your days off and your vacation… rest and play together!
  • Limit Expectations.  I mentioned about that you are not planting this church alone, your family is along for the journey as well.  When times get difficult, and needs become apparent it is easy for us to look towards those we trust (our spouse, our kids) to stand in the gap.  We need to avoid this (unless it is something that fits their giftings), and allow our families to serve in the way that they feel led.  We wouldn’t ask an introvert to whom we are not married to be a greeter… why would we treat our spouse differently?  Set your family up for success in the church, not frustration.
  • Develop and Delegate.  Do this well and limiting expectations will be easier.  Often times our tendency to obsess, stress, and be grouchy about what is going on in the church is the result of our unwillingness, or inability, to develop leaders and delegate authority to them.  Before you tell me that I don’t know your church, realize that you do have the ability to choose, and change, those whom you surround yourself with (check out The Dark Side of Leadership for more on why you might not agree with that last sentence).
  • Get Support.  You, and your family, need people in your lives that are not associated with the church you are planting.  These people to to be committed to praying for you, walking through struggles with you, and caring for your souls.  Find these people, intentionally spend time with them, and be honest with them…  These kinds of relationships will help keep you healthy (and married) throughout the journey.

How have YOU kept YOUR family healthy in ministry?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.