(Announcer’s voice:) “She pitches the ball to herself! She hits it and runs the bases! She catches the ball and throws it! She chases herself! She’s OUT!”
How weird would it be to go to a ball field and see a one-woman show? Nobody expects that. We all know that when we show up, there will be teams. The players will have practiced in a group format. They’ll have shared stories and secrets and probably deodorant unless they’re fifth-grade boys’ teams. They’ll dance and whoop or ugly cry at the end of the game, hugging one another and reminding themselves that they’re not in this alone. Such a microcosm of community life is a glorious picture of what “together” looks like.
My husband and I have been doing some research on coaching for church planting couples, and we’re coming to the conclusion that this ministry was never intended to be a solo gig. In Sending Well, Dino Sinesi argues that there are a few different teammates we need to have around us as we do our work on the field:
1. A coach. Finding someone to fill this role means looking for an individual who enjoys the nitty gritty of personal life. “A coach helps a leader move forward in pursuit of their relationship with God and their unique kingdom assignment.” Just as an athlete of decent ability can thrive under a great coach, we need to use God’s eyes in discovering who might spur us on in turning truth into action.
2. A counselor. This job description involves providing comfort. Like ER doctors, counselors “start with pain and hope to provide both temporary relief and long-term healing.” Wives need someone equipped to address wounding—both that which has sprung from the past and the hurt that occurs throughout the joyful but painful process of planting a church.
3. An advisor. Driven by assessing needs and offering solutions, this is a person “who focuses on what is broken or needs to be maintained.” Want to know how to improve your hospitality game or work on your outreach methods? An advisor is your best option here.
4. A teacher. The role of teaching deals with getting helpful information to those who need it. Planting wives can benefit from someone showing them the ropes of a new cultural setting (because, for instance, sweet tea isn’t a thing in New England). Teachers might provide instruction on topics such as establishing spiritual rhythms and applying the gospel practically.
5. A mentor. “Like a personal trainer, a mentor helps you become what he or she has become.” When God brings someone along and you can’t shake the idea that you want to be just like her when you grow up, you’ve located a mentor.
I would also add a sixth teammate: a friend for accountability and encouragement. While all of the other voices are sort of above the wife, helping her up, it’s nice to have someone beside the wife, helping her through. Two women walking together can be of immense support to one another.
Isn’t the kingdom beautiful when we work together as sisters to move the mission forward? Jesus expects this of His girls. No wife is sent alone.