Coaching Session with Brad Bigney: How to Stay Alive Spiritually While Planting a Church

In our coaching session earlier today, we were blessed to hear from Brad Bigney at Grace Fellowship in Fort Thomas, KY. Brad discussed perseverance and endurance in church planting and ministry. Brad Bigney is an ordained minister with the Evangelical Free Church of America, and is a graduate of both Columbia Bible College and Columbia Biblical Seminary in South Carolina. He has a B.S. in Bible Teaching along with his Master of Divinity. He’s a certified biblical counselor with ACBC (Assoc. of Certified Biblical Counselors) and is involved in the counseling ministry of the church, as well as teaching in other conferences and training centers across the nation. He’s the author of Gospel Treason – Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols. You can read more from Brad on his personal blog. Here are some suggestions Brad has in response to the following questions:

How do you maintain a healthy marriage and family life?

  • Your calendar is your greatest ‘friend’ for prioritizing marriage and ministry. Use it to your advantage.
  • You MUST plan ahead or you will always be in a ministry ‘crisis’ model or Tyranny of the urgent.
  • Always look at the entire month as you decide whether to commit.
  • Leave “Space”/margin in your life for crises and opportunities.
  • Learn to say ‘No’ and not to feel bad.
  • Tell your time where to go – don’t just watch it go or wonder where it went.
  • Intentionally build into your schedule time with your spouse
    • 20 min / day unwind / catch up
    • Weekly date – turn OFF your phone.
    • Yearly overnight away (no kids)
  • Understand I Peter 3:7 and obey it for a lifetime! (See James MacDonald’s booklet ‘How to Change Your Wife by Faith’)
  • Look for ways to serve your wife in practical ways
    • 'You take a bubble bath while I clean the kitchen'
    • 'You go shopping - I'll take care of the baby'
    • Help her at events - don't leave her to deal with the kids on her own (help them get their plates of food, etc.)
    • Work hard to see that your two "world's" mesh- don't allow it to be separate - "Her" world of the kids and home, and "Your" world of church/ministry
    • Praise her continually - both privately and publicly.  She will BLOSSOM!
    • Listen to her and allow her to 'lament' without you always correcting her or rebuking her for 'complaining.'  Just say, 'That must be hard!  I'm sorry.'
    • Be approachable - put out the 'Welcome' mat and make it easy for her to tell you something about you
      • Practice 3 S's:  Sympathy, Support, Solutions (last! This is what she actually wants the least)

How do you keep your own soul alive?

  • Daily, extended, unhurried prayer time (I Pray from 7:45-9:00 a.m.)
  • Days of prayer and fasting (6x / yr) + 3 days away every 3 years (Trappist monastery)
  • Reading good books 35-50 / yr. – especially biographies
  • Memorizing large portions of Scripture so that I can meditate on it
  • Accepting and knowing that it’s a fight – but it’s a fight worth fighting

What are some of the biggest dangers and temptations to avoid?

  • Exhaustion – just sheer emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Loneliness – not feeling like anyone else really gets it or understands
  • Temptation to bitterness – investing in people and then they leave the church, etc.
  • Marital strife – torn between ministry demands and wife’s desire for you to be a great Dad, have a great home, etc.
  • Not delegating enough – doing too much of it myself
  • Not doing the ‘Big Ask’ – take people out one on one and ASK them to invest and step up to certain things
  • Getting adjusted to what it means to really lead a staff – not just give them a chunk of the ministry and let them run with it.  Takes lots of time to invest and develop them, and then to keep everyone on the same page.  I waited way too long to intentionally start leading and developing rather than just sending them off, out of sight out of mind, while I kept doing my thing
  • Preaching on money – waited 10 yrs. – Get over feeling awkward talking about money.  You will HAVE to talk about money.

What have you done to protect yourself from going down in flames like so many other godly men?

  • Don’t meet with women alone for counseling
  • Don’t ride in a car alone with a woman
  • Tell my wife when I sense that another woman is overly friendly and complimentary – too much
  • Listen to my wife and not take offense when she shares that she is concerned about a certain woman and wants me to back off
  • Date night with my wife – invest in your relationship.  Go away alone together (get someone to keep the kids)
  • Asking people to pray for my sexual purity and against pride
  • Inviting people to ask me how I’m doing (porn, etc.) – put out the welcome mat.  Be humble and open for others to speak into your life