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December 27, 2010Church Planting

Parakaleo: Coaching Support for Planter's Wives

In my interactions with denomination and network leaders, I often come across helpful resources or ministries worth your consideration. Recently, I received some information from the leadership of the Presbyterian Church in America's Mission to North America.

I'm impressed with how the PCA focuses on ministry in North America. When I walked the floor of their recent General Assembly, I saw a strong focus on North American ministry and church planting.

I've become increasingly acquainted with Jim Bland, coordinator of Mission to North America. He spoke at our recent multi-denominational Church Planting Leadership Fellowship and we've been exchanging some emails about their ministry for church planter wives.

The majority of church planting is done by entrepreneurial young men. And, let's face it, when I was younger and planting a church, I was not always the best husband. And, something like Parakaleo would have been a great help and encouragement to my wife (and, I could have used a group to help me BE a better husband, but that is another story).

Parakaleo was started in 2005 as a ministry in the PCA to come alongside the wives of church planters during those intense first years of church planting. Just as a church planter greatly benefits from an ongoing coaching relationship, Parakaleo provides coaching for the wives of church planters who often feel isolated in those early years of a plant-- even in the midst of a thriving church experience.

I remember being contacted about research on church planter wives-- and finding very little out there. You can read the results of their research here.

The Parakaleo resource explains:

Since very little was being done in any denomination or organization to sustain women in church planting 5 years ago, we knew even the smallest step would be a huge leap forward. However, we each knew from experience that support in a stressful and often isolating job wasn't the biggest need. We wanted somehow to unpack the confusion we as women face in ministry.

It's not just learning that the gospel is for Christians and those we are trying to reach, but unpacking why we don't apply that good news to our own lives! It's one thing to believe we are somehow a part of God's greater purpose by joining our husbands in church planting, it's quite another to begin to see how this calling might be fleshed out uniquely for each one of us. It's not only discovering and confessing our idolatries, but also understanding why we are drawn to certain ones in the first place. We unpack our stories of wounding and begin to discover that they are still impacting us today! And then we get to the nitty-gritty: The glory of doing this in the community of our families and the new communities of faith we are building! We delve into stages of community, handling conflict, relational styles, ambiguity, boundaries and the list goes on.

We do this in our retreats, in our local networks, in our group consults, and in our one-on-one coaching. We do this with each person on our staff and each woman we train in leadership. And it's not stopping there. These women are passing on what they learn to their children and others in their churches!

Parakaleo is being asked to launch 23 new locations. Four of those requests are from leaders in other countries-- Mozambique, Cuba, Brazil, and Argentina. But instead of simply sending in new leaders, they plan on training and coaching leaders already in place and in need to start their own networks that will provide ongoing training and coaching.

You can read the December Parakaleo Newsletter here for more information. You can also contact the director, Shari Thomas, after reading the research here.

Also, be sure to check out the interview with Shari Thomas in By Faith magazine. (Even if you are not PCA, By Faith magazine is a great resource also filled with thoughtful articles-- what other denominational magazines has a section on "arts and culture"-- gotta' love Presbyterians. Dick Doster does a great job and the magazine is worth your time.)

Take a look at the resources and then come back here to discuss. Does your network or denomination provide any kind of coaching or support for the spouses of church planters? How great do you believe the need is for this kind of ministry in your context?

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Parakaleo: Coaching Support for Planter's Wives