In the church planting world, you need to understand, the word “support” can mean anything from money, to partners in ministry, to prayer groups, to church mission groups, and to family and friends all along the way. You should know church planters talk about these various avenues of support a lot, at least among themselves. Sometimes, it’s tough talking to other planters about these various means of support, especially with church planters outside the Southern BaptistConvention and outside the North American Mission Board.
Usually, when church planters talk among themselves about support, the conversation includes elements of difficulty, challenges or flat out failures that we’ve encountered. Like young soldiers recounting the fears and failures of battle, church planters will share with one another about struggles and disappointments, about serving in new communities and tough communities, about giving leadership when clarity and direction is hard to explain and circumstances are up in the air, and mostly we talk about trusting God to meet our needs, especially needs we have not yet discovered. And, in these moments, we talk about our support system. When it is my turn to talk, I just feel bad talking with planters outside our tribe about my support, because there is no way around a simple fact – church planting in the SBC, fueled by the Cooperative Program with guidance and leadership from NAMB, provides the most holistically supportive church planting support I have seen out here in the field.
So, when I talk about the support I receive from the SBC family, I hit the same high points every time.
I am cared for personally. You may not know it, but the North American Mission Board has a team of people whose sole job is to care for the church planters of the SBC. This team prays for planters regularly. They send emails to encourage us. They send books with letters from the author, encouraging planters to continue the good work to which God called us. On my birthday, I was given a gift card to go out for a date with Ali. Recently, NAMB asked me to attend an orientation and training meeting in Atlanta, and while I was there, I received a text from my wife with pictures of a new journal, a new book, and a letter sent to her from NAMB, thanking her for supporting me while I was in Atlanta. Every church planter and every church planter’s wife and family have their own fair share of battle wounds and horror stories, but, due in large part to personal support through the SBC and NAMB, my wife – my family has a different story to tell.