PMS::creating a warm church

>> May 31, 2009

It's PMS week again, girls. (In case you're new to CLUTCH, that stands for Problems, Mistakes, Sins.)

This June, we're talking about the Problem of cold churches. Now, we all know there are different kinds of cold.

Some churches are just plain unfriendly.

Others are only friendly if you know someone who is already there and gets you "in".

And others seem to be full of hugs and warmth - until you have a problem or a crisis, and then everyone just melts away into their own business.

So how, as PW's, can we help to create warm churches? You know, the kind where people are genuinely cared for, where visitors get invited after church for a meal or to a relevant activity, where people lovingly build each other up and hold each other accountable?

I'm not saying it's the PW's job, or that we are solely responsible for generating warmth. But it seems like we could each make a difference in our own ways, if we wanted. Contrary to the outside world's assumptions that Christians are all hypocrites, isn't church supposed to be a place where people feel like coming back?


LPL Ministers' Wives conference videos

At last, the Living Proof Live Ministers' Wives conference with Beth Moore is available for download. I coulda SWORN that at the event they announced that it would be a free download, but alas, it's not. It's $20 bucks. If it's even 10% of the live conference experience, it's worth every penny. I promise.

Check it out here!


chime in: questions from you (7)

>> May 29, 2009

It's time to chime in! Here's a question from a reader:

"i'm needing some help in the area of not getting along with the other pastor wives on staff - their dedication or lack of for the church & their pastor really is disturbing, upsetting & just makes me full of anger sometimes. help!"

Advice, ladies. Give her some...


house blessings

>> May 27, 2009

Lots of people have house-warmings when they move to a new place. But as a pastoral family, the home is often a place for so much more than mere day-to-day existence.

A pastor's home may be a place for simple quiet meals, dressier dinner parties, or chaotic youth suppers. A place for small groups, bible studies, or counseling. A refuge for those needing somewhere to stay. Our homes often serve as a source of ministry to many outside the immediate family.

Have you ever considered, instead of a regular house-warming party, having a "House Blessing"?

I remember the first time my parents did this. Only a little girl, I still can remember the ceremony. Friends and family gathered in our new house for a meal and a good time. Then we all went from room to room, where a blessing prayer was spoken over the activities of each room.

Afterward, we hung a large framed artistic floor plan of our new home on the wall, with a scripture on the drawing to remind us that our home is also the dwelling of God.

The ceremony profoundly affected me. For the first time I realized that God actually cared about what happened in every room of our house. That he wanted to be part of all our activities, even outside of church and family worship times. That every single room was a place where he lives right there beside us.

Since then, I've particularly appreciated house blessings. It's a way to dedicate every room in our homes to God's service, while celebrating the experiences yet to come.

Have you ever done a house blessing? What rituals or family ceremonies do you have to dedicate a new home to God's presence and service?


when you're the one that needs help...

>> May 22, 2009

As PW's, it seems we often exist only to help others. Meeting their needs, listening to their stories, sharing advice in their context, bringing food to their homes, and so on. And that's all good - after all, it's what we're called to do, right? To serve others selflessly?

But what about when YOU are the one in need? Is it hard for you to accept help when you're so often the one giving it?

The past months have been tough on us for a few reasons - it's the busiest season at church and my husband has had to spend many evenings working late, I'm pregnant and have been quite sick & nauseated for four months, and the week after the baby news his mother was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia.

Since we've been married, my husband has served as a pastor in four different churches. I've often sent pots of soup or loaves of bread or extra casseroles to members that were sick or grieving.

Until a few weeks ago, no one from our churches has ever done that for us.

At a recent church dinner the subject of my pregnancy came up. I bragged on my PH who has faithfully taken over jobs like cooking and laundry. Since my nausea is most acutely triggered by smells he's had to take control of the entire kitchen.

One woman at the table immediately offered to bring food sometime this week. No offense to her, but I didn't really think it would happen. Lots of people offer to do things, but life often gets in the way of their good intentions. Besides, I'm a PW. I'm used to being the one helping other people - not the other way around.

Two days later, she emailed asking for our address, and to expect her at 6 PM. I was really surprised, and excited (she's a fabulous cook, I already knew that).

She showed up at our door bearing a feast. Scalloped potatoes, roasted butternut squash, seasoned vegetarian chicken, greenbean salad, two kinds of homemade dips with pita and veggie sticks, sliced cucumbers in lemon juice and herbs, lentils, and homemade pumpkin bread for dessert.

Food enough for two days at least - and the PH won't have to lift a finger (except for washing the dishes, of course)!

Her act of service was so kind and undeserved. It really met my love language. I was so overwhelmed with thanks and appreciation that I really didn't know what to say.

How do you react to people serving you? Does it feel weird? Do you need people to notice your needs more than they do?

How can we tactfully but clearly communicate our needs as pastoral families to the congregation?


taking a day off

>> May 20, 2009

Recently, Craig Groeschel (senior pastor of lifechurchtv) asked on his blog if pastors are diligent about talking a day off... a sabbath, whose time they seriously and intentionally guard. A time to renew (not necessarily catch up on home errands). Read the post and the comments here. The comments posted were very interesting, and I wondered the whole time what it was like for the PW.

Is not taking a regularly-scheduled day off a problem of an older generation? Is our under-40 crowd more conscious of the need not to overwork, and more mindful of our family's needs?

How do you and your husband regularly unplug from the 24 hr. demands of ministry?


are you more than a PW?

>> May 18, 2009

Of course you are. We all are.
Tell us more about you outside of the PW role (answer any or all, but answer!).

What is/was your career?
What is your favorite hobby?
What has been the highlight of your life?
What are you passionate about?
What's something most people don't know about you?
What do you wish most people *got* about you?


sex challenge book winner!

>> May 17, 2009

Congratulations to Entry #2, Laurry D. Manuel. You won the 30daysexchallenge book!
Email us at with your mailing address and we'll get the book right to ya!


chime in: questions from you (6)

>> May 15, 2009

Question from a reader:

"What is your role as a pastor's wife...we are in the process of planting a church and sometimes I don't know where I'm supposed to be and what I'm suppose to be doing. Just wondering what is a way to be at your maximum for your church and husband and home too?"


a note from susie

>> May 14, 2009

"I just wanted to let the PW's know that we have small group material to go w/ the challenge if a church wants to use it for a couples group. Also, we give churches a break on the price of the books when they buy in bulk etc..."

You can can contact Susie directly for more information.


May Giveway!

>> May 12, 2009

This week we're giving away a copy of Susie and Paul Wirth's book, 30daysexchallenge: a journey to intimacy. To enter, just leave a comment with:

  • your name
  • church name & location
  • something related to the Sex Challenge (Such as: Have you done this at your church? How did it go? What stood out to you from yesterday's interview with Susie Wirth? Will you take the Challenge? etc.).
We'll be accepting entries until noon, PST Friday, May 15th and announce the winner of the random drawing over the weekend.

The winner will be contacted via email (so, no anonymous entries, duh!) to get mailing information.

(By the way, the winner of the April giveaway -- the red Clutch purse: The purse was returned to us and we haven't heard from you via email. Can you please contact us at


the PW behind the sex challenge

>> May 11, 2009

Has your church done the 30-day Sex Challenge? This challenge received national media attention when it was launched (and continues to create buzz when churches do it). Meet Susie Wirth, the PW who partnered with her husband, Paul (the lead pastor of Relevant Church in Florida) in this ministry to restore and renew marriage relationships. Their personal story will be a blessing to you and embarking on the Challenge will certainly enrich your marriage. If you've never heard of the Challenge, read on. It's all here.

In a nutshell, what is the 30-day Sex Challenge?

30daysexchallenge was the title of our message series for singles and married couples, it was also the challenge given to our congregants to abstain from sexual immorality for 30 days, if single, and for married couples to be intimate for 30 days. We gave our couples an assessment to complete, along with 30 days of questions that were intended to cultivate their relationship in all areas. The challenge comprised four major areas that the media intentionally left out. They are: spiritual oneness, emotional oneness, sexual oneness, and physical oneness. For anyone who truly listened to the messages and participated in the entire challenge, it was not exclusively about having sex for 30 days. Our motivation was and still is today, to help marriages to grow in all areas. We believe in order for significant growth to happen in relationships, that God must be the center. And each person needs to take on the responsibility to “work” on all areas of the relationship! With this in mind, most women admit that their husbands do not really enjoy “working” on their marital relationship. Therefore, the 30daysexchallenge, admittedly, is partially a bait and hook for our men to engage in the “work.”

How has this challenge spread across the country? In what ways have you seen God move couples to wholeness through the Challenge? What results are couples reporting?

God has used the challenge/our book, most recently in the lives of those who attend a large church in Granger Indiana, Granger Community Church. The church did a similar challenge/ marriage series, and they used our book as an accompanying study for the married couples. Just last Sunday we had a family visit our church from Granger. They traveled over 30 minutes just to come and meet us on Easter Sunday. The spread of our story is something that we have just left up to God. He knows which couples will be helped by reading and doing the work in our book, so as we leave it up to Him, we are confident and at peace.

When did you figure out that marriage ministry was your ministry?

I knew from the beginning of our marital restoration that God was not going to waste our hurts. Since we have experienced so much in our relationship, the good, the bad, and the ugly, God has used our lives to help couples around us for years. It is only now, that He has used our story, in book form to reach more couples than we could have ever imagined. I may not have two hours to sit across the table from a couple and counsel, yet with our story, I can simply hand them a copy and know that God will use it more effectively than I could communicate in a counseling session.

Were you nervous about sharing your private marriage struggle with friends, family, parishioners and the world?

I struggled significantly with sharing our story. At the time, our son did not know our past. He was nine last Summer. Although we never hid our story, we didn’t verbally share it all of the time. Dr Clarke, who read our book and endorsed it, recommended that we tell our son so that he would not be blind-sided in the future. After Paul spoke to him one afternoon while swimming in our pool, he simply looked at his daddy and asked two questions, “ Dad, why did you do that?” And “Are you going to do it again?” After I had the reassurance that our son understood what and why we were writing a book about our lives, I had little anxiety over the revelation. If we live in isolation or attempt to keep our lives hidden in some way or fashion, then I believe the enemy can cause fear or insecurity in us. I sometimes would wonder what “new” members of our church would think if they found out that Paul was unfaithful to me, even if it were over 11 years ago. The book has demolished all fears. I encourage new people to get our book. We have no fear that someone would try to accuse us of keeping our story hidden from our church body. It is out there, and God can fully use it to His glory.

What advice would you give pastoral couples who are struggling to stay connected and build strong marriages (life in the fishbowl…outsiders think you’re the perfect little family)?

I would tell other pastor’s wives that the “life in a fishbowl” thing is a plan from the enemy to keep us from sharing our inner most struggles with our church family. Since we have a special needs child, we truly could not live a “secret” life if we tried. She is so unpredictable and just livin' life with no regard to what other people think of her. She embarrasses us sometimes, but our church people either accept us for who we are, flaws and all, or they leave. I have never had anyone leave because we are transparent. I think being authentic is one of the greatest methods to reach this generation, yet we are too scared to share the Truth about ourselves that we miss it. People want genuineness in their leaders, not fakes.

Ladies, tomorrow we'll be giving away a copy of their book, 30daysexchallenge-A Journey To Intimacy. Stay tuned.

Do you have any questions for Susie about the 30-day Sex Challenge?


silly drama

>> May 8, 2009

Sometimes church drama and attacks on your husband take a toll on your spiritual life, marital life and your husband's career, but sometimes, mean and messy people's efforts for disruption and destruction are just plain silly.

Has anyone at church ever tried to ruffle your feathers or create drama out of nothing...and you were able to laugh it off and see the silliness for what it was?


chime in: questions from you (5)

>> May 6, 2009

Two of our reader questions are perfectly suited to this week's PMS topic. Choose one, choose, both but tell us what you think!

"This is a lonely road at question is what to do with all the negative comments that your pastor hubby gets, knowing how hard he works and how faithful he is...really gets me sometimes!"

"I need some ideas on how to continue to show love towards persons that are constantly tearing down my home, and my husband."

Chime in!


when your church eats you for dinner...

>> May 5, 2009

My PH knew his calling to ministry since his childhood in Communist Romania. He experienced religious persecution in grade school, I was raised in a missionary family - and we both grew up fairly aware that there are mean people in church. Fortunately, our parents helped us understand that church doesn't automatically make people perfect - so it never fazed us much.

Until one particular church district. It was a fractured church, with a long history of running off its pastors. A few months after we arrived, the senior pastor and his family became the target of a vicious campaign of gossip. They suffered bravely, and we ached alongside them. It was particularly painful for me, as I'd seen my parents subjected to similar pointless vilification at one point in the mission field. The injustice of it all made me question God for a time.

Finally, the senior pastor's family felt that it would be wise to leave. We supported their decision, but it was hard to be left alone to pick up the pieces. My PH spent hours each day on his knees. We shed many tears together, sought counsel and advice from mentors...

When my PH and the church elders gathered the congregation to carry out a few measures of biblical church discipline, we didn't know what would happen next.

Then the hate blogs began. My PH's name, as well as those of the church elders, were maligned in skewed renditions of the church disciplinary actions. Comments left on blog posts indicated that people around the world were reading the hurtful spew, and some were even taking my husband's name into their seminary classes as a case study of "what not to do."

My husband lost 35 pounds over the next few months (and he didn't have much padding to begin with). He looked emaciated, had no appetite. His hours of prayer were interspersed with our agonized conversations on how to lead this community of people in God's will.

He talked about going back to school, getting a degree in business, going into something - anything - else.

One morning we went jogging together, and passed a dead possum in the middle of the road. It took a moment for us to notice the several live babies scattered in the messy roadkill. A car whizzed past us, and with a sickening THUNK one of the babies was gone. We paused, stunned, as cars kept coming. Finally, unfrozen, we flagged traffic to a halt and wrapped the last living baby possum in a jacket.

We stood by the road together, tears streaming down our faces. It was as though we'd just seen a brutal illustration of what was happening at our church. Innocent bystanders and young children torn apart by the actions of those who didn't care.

Eventually, things settled down. By the time we accepted a call to a new church, God had worked healing in a way we'd never expected. We didn't want to leave. As we said goodbye, we cried with our church family. My PH stuck to his call to ministry. And we now knew first hand that God truly can bring wholeness to shattered places.

(Oh yes, and we took the baby possum to an animal rescue center to be raised and released into the wild.)


guest blog: the doctrine of hate

>> May 3, 2009

by Michelle Wegner
I woke up this morning bleary eyed, stiff, cranky, but trying to put on a smile for my tired and cranky girls before school. While they were munching their cereal I snuck a peak at my email. For the second Tuesday in a row, there was a notice that yet another blogger had ripped my husband apart on his site.

Blogging has unfortunately become the handy “Christian Weapon of Choice.” Never in history has it been easier, faster, or handier to whip up your angry thoughts and make them instantly viral in seconds. Your words are instant, global, and permanent. When I was at Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. briefing last May, he briefly addressed the issue of hate bloggers. He said he used to ignore it…they’d go away. But, they don’t go away. Their hate and anger builds and builds on these sites claiming all sorts of Bible and Doctrine to support their case in dismantling the leadership they literally seek to destroy. Engaging these bloggers may actually be the thing to do. He said that you need to correct their information and move on. Make a stand for yourself, and then don’t continue the conversation.

Our church and its leadership have borne the brunt of many (and I mean many) an angry blogger. There are men and women whose sole mission is to pick apart the words my husband and the other staff at GCC say piece by piece to discredit them and their message. Rob has been compared to Hitler… (Yeah, really), called a heretic, a pagan, one of the leaders of “Granger Community Circus.” Pretty unbelievable stuff.

The guy that compared Rob to Hitler really got to me. Really. I’ve been to Auschwitz and seen the horrific aftermath of one of the cruelest leaders of our century. I don’t think my husband who comes home happy and singing, ready to wrestle the kids, do the dishes, or play Polly Pockets has anything whatsoever to do with that kind of evil. In fact, every fiber of his being is wired to oppose evil and fight for whatever is good, noble, excellent, or praiseworthy.

I engaged that guy in conversation. I needed to. I let it sit in me for way too long, and my own rage just built and built. Engaging this guy was most likely pointless as far as getting him to change his mind goes. That wasn’t my goal. My point was to shed light on what damage his words had on our family. Our girls were at the age where they started to understand Google-ing their mom and dad’s name, and sure enough, guess what article they pulled up? I wanted that man to know that his words harmed my children. He didn’t care. He said “the lies and deceit your children hear at your church every week is a thousand times worse than anything they would ever read on my site.”

Whatever dude.

So, what did I do this morning?

I didn’t click the link. I deleted the email.

What do you do when the hate-talkers start their talking? Here are some things we have done that you might try:

  • Ignore them…don’t click the link
  • Engage them in a simple conversation
  • Defend your position, and then walk away. They don’t want to change, but you do have the right to set the record straight and defend yourself
  • Take a deep breath
  • Take it to Jesus
  • Let it go
Good luck with that last point. The letting it go part is what’s worst for me. Criticism eats at my soul. I wish it wouldn’t. I wish I could let it roll off my back like my husband does. What helps you let it go? Ideas?


PMS week: mean people

This week on Clutch we're talking about mean people, you know the kind that do everything in their power to thwart your PH's ministry efforts and your church's programs. We'll learn through other PW's experiences about how they've dealt with attacks from mean people, how they shield their children from drama, how they stay committed to ministry and maintain their faith in God when mean people strike, how they support their husband's through it all. At the end of the week, we'll try to end on a lighter note and laugh about those wanna-be-attacks that give you and your PH a good laugh, instead of a headache.

We'll need lots of your feedback this week, so be sure to chime in!

We hope to offer encouragement and perspective that will help you face situations with mean people and come out stronger when the dust settles.

Mean people. Drama. Let's talk about it.

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