Several years ago Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages.” If you are married and a part of a church chances are you have read that book, been to a book study on it and still use some of the language surrounding that book in your marriage today.
From the study of this book, we found out that we all communicate love in different ways. We all have a love language; gifts, acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation and quality time. If you work with church planters, that partner and planter relationship can sometimes be a difficult one to negotiate. It can be easier and more fruitful if we as partner or sending churches will just remember those Five Love Languages and weave them into our relationships with the planters.
Gifts: Church plants need resources. Just the idea of the word plant gives the idea that there isn’t much there. Most of our churches have many resources that we can share or gift to a church plant. Spend some time thinking through the different people you know in your church that provide services, own businesses or just have extra stuff. I like to think through the skills and services that our staff and church planters can provide and figure out a way to leverage those resources to support our planters. Here are some things that we have given away: Legal services, counseling for planters and their teams, chairs, block party trailer, sound systems, copiers, printing, subscriptions to online services, a shared Dropbox where they can share files, etc.
Words of Affirmation: Church planters need to know when they are doing a good job. Many of these guys are hard chargers who believe that God has called them to plant a Kingdom-minded church in an area without an adequate Gospel presence. They are bold, but they are also fragile. They need us as partners to give them encouraging words when they are at their lowest and ready to quit. We must continually point these brave Kingdom warriors back to their calling and sufficiency in Christ.
Quality Time: If we want to know best how to support our planters we must spend time with them in their area. By spending time with them on their field of battle you will understand their context better. This will allow you to know what questions to ask them as you coach them. It will also give you specific people and places to be able to pray about. This involves you in the mission. The more that you can serve side by side with your planter the more your heart will be drawn into his work and the more apart of that work you will feel.
Acts of Service: Serve alongside of them! One of the best ways we can increase the faith and growth of our church members is to work alongside of church planters. Your church members’ faith will be stretched. They will begin to be bought into the vision of church planting, evangelism and missions. Your church planters will be encouraged. You will see their faith grow. They will know you care and feel invested in.
Physical Touch: Don’t make this weird… Your church planters will benefit from you being present with them, one on one. You need to put an arm around them, sit knee to knee and have a real conversation. This real conversation is not about church planting! They need to know you care about them. Ask about their time with the Lord. Are they growing in their faith? Are they still being challenged by prayer and Scripture? What are they praying for and how is Scripture changing them? Get to know their wife and their kids’ names. Ask them about dating their wife and spending time with their kids. Care more about them and their health than the plant. Grab their arm and pray for them.
If you can practice these things, your planters will be healthier, your faith will grow and your church family will grow in their faith.