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The impact of planting on the church-planting family

This is the third post on how to understand and respond to the financial pressures church-planting brings. In this post I want to briefly consider how planting impacts the home.

What is the impact of living in this way for you as a church-planting family?

Financial stress and your relationship with your wife

Don’t expect your wife to naturally share, to the same degree, your passion for the sacrificial commitment planting a church will make. Particularly if you have a family, her focus and drive will be with providing for the needs of a family.
Don’t expect your wife to enjoy the same attitude to risk that you might be willing to bear. In my experience of working alongside planters their wives tend to me more risk-averse. It is certainly not sinful of them to struggle to adopt the same attitude.
Don’t plan to plant a church on the basis of your wife’s income. Don’t presume that your wife wants to go on working to bank-roll the plant and don’t plan presuming that she will, especially beyond the first 12-18 months.

Financial stress and your relationship (& witness) to your children

Do see planting as a family endeavour (on mission together!) and look for gospel-learning opportunities as you pray for God to provide and as you give thanks for meeting your needs. In planting you have an opportunity to experience in a more obvious and direct way how God graciously provides for his children –make good use of it.

Mothers are inclined to feel guilty that their husband’s calling is damaging to their children. But don’t overestimate that damage. It can be good to have less stuff. Their lives will be enriched in other ways. And God is good. Many pastors’ wives testify to God’s provision through surprising and delightful means. Julia Jones

Don’t ask your wife (and kids) to bear the sacrifice of living on less without seeking to compensate for it in other ways. 

What might it mean for you to compensate for these financial pressures ?

There is probably not much you can do to change your circumstances. Money pressures are likely to be tight and not just for the short-term (see below). But as we have already noted that brings gospel opportunities to grow in gospel confidence as the Lord provides.

The one thing that must be avoided at all costs is asking wife and family to take the double-hit for a sustained period of time of being expected to sacrifice both time & money. That is something that breeds resentment. Dad not being around and then finances being tight is a danger to the spiritual well-being of our kids. So make time for family and make it a priority.

Financial stress and keeping going

Financial stress is not limited to the challenges of raising an initial income. In the medium to longer term some form of financial pressure will stay with you. For example, a planter’s income is not likely to increase significantly over time. Your family may grow in number as your salary does not. Moving to a larger house may not be an option even as family grows. Whilst others in your church family will move on up the career ladder and enjoy a greater disposable income you will not. All that means that a widening gap between a planter’s income and the income of church contemporaries is likely to become more apparent (not less) over time. The family holidays enjoyed by others may simply not be available to you etc.

How to be keep going

Learn to be content with what you have.
If you are an elder or core-group member with financial resources to spare look for ways to bless the planter & spouse (even small gifts like vouchers for a meal out) are really appreciated.
Teach your children what it means to rely on the Lord in all things as they see you relying on the Lord for finances.
In the busyness of planting don’t neglect the ministry of fund-raising and by doing so bring an unhealthy level of stress into your church and family life.
Don’t feel guilty in inviting people to partner with you. Remember, raising funds is ministry. The Lord is expanding your ministry to include people who will pray for and support your cause. Raising funds is ministry. William P. Dillon