The Church Planting Spouse

Two weeks ago at Exponential Paul Williams, from The Orchard Group, said something profound: “a church tends to reflect the personality of the Lead Pastor’s wife.”

Think about that for a minute.

Today I was sitting in the first day of Redeemer City to City’s Urban Church Planting Coach training when the importance of caring well for the church planter’s spouse came up.  As we spoke, Tami Resch briefly explained the findings of a recent study done of church planting wives, and ranked the sources of frustration that they experience (in order):

  • Their Husbands: We really can be tough to live with at times.
  • Isolation and Loneliness:  How many nights each week are you spending outside your home?
  • Spiritual Health:  How are you encouraging the spiritual lives of your family?
  • Ambiguity:  Are the expectations on your spouse clearly defined or are they expected to stand in every gap you have?
  • Re-Creation:  Do you make time for intentional family Sabbath?
  • Exhaustion:  Related to re-creation, how closely are you monitoring your family’s emotional, physical, and mental energy reserves?
  • Finances:  Do I really need to explain this?

As Theresa and I were discussing the list, she agreed with all but the first one of the list.  We spent some time talking through our experiences in Baltimore, and agreed it was one of the most difficult seasons of ministry that we have ever been through.  I asked her what words of wisdom she would pass along to church planters and their spouses as they were getting ready to go plant.  Here is her response:

This will be an exciting time, but will likely be some of the most difficult years you will experience as a couple.  Before heading into the field do everything you can to ensure that your marriage is healthy, and that both of you have support systems in place: as individuals, and as a couple.  Fellas, never forget that your wife is planting the church alongside of you, and feels the stress far more acutely than you ever will.

I may be partial, but she is wise.

How do YOU care for the ministry spouse in YOUR life?


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.

  • dgamble

    Love the post and agree wholeheartedly. One question: what’s up with the pic you chose? Is this the Abercrombie church planting couple? Thanks.

    • Matt Steen

      it was the best picture I could find that late at night…  and it looked somewhat like the guy I planted with in Baltimore…

  • Lance Crawford

    That’s good stuff…thanks for sharing.

  • Joel

    first of all – good word.  and i agree with theresa. one friend said “if you have a ‘great’ marriage going into a church plant, after year one you will have a ‘good’ marriage.  If you have an ‘okay’ marriage going into a church plant, after year one you will have a ‘poor’ marriage.”

    second of all – you should ask my permission before posting my picture on your website.

  • Mike Sciara

    Matt, thanks for sharing.  This is great wisdom that is often overlooked.  As is, the spiritual warfare the planter and his family tend to experience when venturing out in faith to plant.  (Didn’t mean to give you your next blog topic, but here ya go anyway!)  Thank you Theresa for giving a wife’s perspective.  Helps us knuckleheads :)

    • Matt Steen

      helps us knuckleheads big time!

  • Jen Solomon

    Your wife is amazingly wise.

    • Matt Steen

      I am a fan.

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