Church Planting Spouses Ministry

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.   I Thessalonians 2:8

parakaleo team







Tami Resch, Ruth Ann Batstone, Shari Thomas, Maria Garriott, and Cristina Caires

A Brief History of Parakaleo

In 2003, the Presbyterian Church in America’s church planting organization (Mission to North America), recognized that many fledgling churches failed because of the stresses placed on the pastoral couple. In fact, some ministry marriages did not survive the rigors of church planting.

MNA asked Shari Thomas to design a ministry to address the crucial needs of the church planting couple. Shari had twenty-five years of domestic and international church planting experience, and had provided training at church planter assessments and conferences. Because of the lack of research on church planting spouses (CPS), Shari conducted qualitative research (interviews) and quantitative research (questionnaires) to ascertain the scope of the issues.

Her research revealed that the health of the church planting couple is key to a successful church. The majority of failed plants or premature pastoral departures stems from a lack of understanding the demands church planting places on the family, and the difficulty of navigating congregational expectations. The primary stressor identified by church planting spouses was the planter’s lack of understanding of the demands church planting places on the family unit. The second most critical stressor was lack of a support system apart from the planter. The average CPS is heavily invested in the life of the church: she simultaneously leads 3.5 major ministries (or works outside the home) while serving as the primary childcare giver and providing extensive ministry hospitality. Over eighty percent of church planter wives surveyed reported a lack of denominational care and support. One hundred percent requested mentoring or some form of a support system.

Parakaleo was founded in 2005 to serve as a lifeline for church planting couples. Experienced network leaders and coaches provide ongoing coaching, training, and relational support to empower spouses for their vital role in kingdom work. Parakeleo helps them understand how their identity in Christ relates to their performance, their marital relationship, and the idolatries of their hearts. It provides an opportunity to connect with and learn from others in ministry.

We have learned that if capitalized upon, this intense season of church planting provides an opportunity for growth and transformation not only for the ministry couple but for the new church as well.

The mission of Parakaleo is to strengthen the gospel-spreading impact of church planting by coming alongside church planting spouses, couples and church planting movements. We do this through coaching, connecting, caring, and celebrating in order to facilitate adequate training, encouragement, and care of spouses and couples.