When I started doing research on the needs of church planting spouses, I discovered I wasn’t alone— other women were also placing the burden on their husbands of what they needed to know about church planting, along with their worries about the children and the church. Without others speaking into their lives, this was placing a tremendous stress on the marriage. As Parakaleo looked to answer the questions of how to provide that support, my team began to study coaching. When looking at Scripture, we began to see that God himself asks us investigative, rhetorical, and counseling questions all through his Word.
From what we were learning, we started coaching each other. Soon, other women asked for help. But we didn’t have coaches yet trained in what we were discovering to be so helpful and live-giving.
In one of my first initiatives, I decided to invite a group of local planters’ wives to my home. I had no idea what the structure would be, but if they were willing to commit to one morning a month, we would walk this journey together. Each wife asked her husband to handle childcare responsibilities for our monthly mornings together.
We knew we needed a safe place to vent, but without gossip. We knew the grace of Jesus covered us so we could openly admit our struggles and sin. Doing this in a group without judgment — while still inviting each other to repentance and growth — would be tricky.
We began developing guidelines and an informal group coaching procedure. It wasn’t perfect, and at times it was even downright messy. But as we began developing this coaching structure and support network, we saw that our church planting experience began to radically change, as well as the church planting experience for each of our husbands!
Through all of this, it is important to remember that there will still be times when we are alone. There will be the dark night of the soul. As with Paul and the early church, we will experience seasons without the help or encouragement we need from others. But I pray that those times wouldn’t come as a result of our individualism, pride, or ignorance about our own need.
If you are alone, consider asking God for a group of like-minded ministry spouses. Pray about approaching your sending denomination or organization with the need for coaching and training wives. Ask God to lead you to a woman who can coach you in this journey.
Parakaleo is affiliated with Mission to North America, the sending agency of the Presbyterian Church of America. However Parakaleo offers coaching, training, and resources for any church planting couple. You can read Shari’s research on church planting couples here.