In this episode of The Church Planting Podcast, Mindy Caliguire and Jeremy Brown dive in deep with Greg about the importance of soul care in church planting.
Mindy Caliguire is the founder of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase “soul health” in the body of Christ. She works with organizations such as Compassion International, Stadia Church Planting, Leadership Network, Denver Seminary, The AccordNetwork, Ascent Community Church, and others. She currently serves on the executive leadership team at Gloo. Her books include STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships, Become Like Jesus, Discovering Soul Care, Spiritual Friendship, Soul Searching, and Simplicity, as well as Write for Your Soul: The Whys and Hows of Journaling.
Jeremy serves as the Lead Pastor at Journey Church near Jackson, TN. After 18 years of working with students, he and his wife of 23 years, Sheila, worked with Stadia to launch Journey in October of 2010 (10–10–10 to be exact). They have three beautiful daughters: Marissa (19), Makayla (17) and Myah (14).When he’s not intimidating would–be boyfriends, Jeremy loves to catch a great cigar and spend time with his beautiful wife.
Vibrant Spiritual Life as a Success Factor
Church planting is first and foremost a spiritual activity. It flows out of a vibrant spiritual life.
Effective church planters live out Biblical integrity – they live out Biblical principles and values in a way that builds a foundation of moral authority for their leadership and vision.
Effective church planters have a growing faith – they are actively engaged in a relationship with God that is continually forming their character and informing their leadership. Leadership isn’t something they do, it’s something God is doing in them.
Effective church planters have an optimistic faith – their faith in God regularly inspires them to take significant risks, convinced that God is able to make even the most impossible thing happen.
Personal Health In Your Church Planting Journey
(M) The Psalms say He will MAKE you lie down in green pastures. God MADE me lie down – it was a period of forced rest and severe mercy.
(J) I couldn’t guess the amount of spiritual warfare we’d meet. It wasn’t exhaustion that hit me. It was the subtle erosion of success and excitement. What Stadia provided helped us not burn out physically and mentally, but it also made me think, “Since it’s going right, God must be in it.” But it was when I saw how quickly I responded in anger and how impatient and emotional I was that I realized how run down I really was spiritually. There is more Good News than just Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Jesus’ life, and there should be in ours, too.
How to Care For Your Soul in the Early Years of Planting
(M) The vital first step is to start paying attention to the symptoms of your soul – snappy anger, fear, panic, isolation, judgmental, a loss of grace, unchecked drivenness – when you start saluting smartly to the needs around you unfiltered by a sense of discernment to what God is calling you. Or there might be physical symptoms. Don’t just have to push through it! Notice it.
(G) Numbing is another symptom in our current society. If any of this is resonating, go to therapy or get a soul-care mentor!
What Do you Do to Guard Your Soul Care?
(J) When the day is done, the day is done. Pace yourself. Solitude is also important. Spending time not on the phone, not reading the Bible or a book – just breathing and being aware of where I am – being fully present is a gift for your health.
(M) We like to split mind, body, soul, and spirit. Our faith can become very disembodied that way. Jesus came to us incarnate – an enfleshment of God’s nature so we can follow in His example. Are you a “human doing” or a “human being”? Being embodied like Jeremy describes is foreign to our way of thinking about a spiritual life, but it’s sane!
Start getting honest in your journal. Don’t write what you’re supposed to say or pray about or care about. Be gut-level honest so you can pay attention to what’s actually going on.
Start a practice of silent prayer. Set a timer for twenty minutes and be truly silent. Just THINK through – what is my current need for God or my current desire? Wholeness, healing, love? The purpose is to sit in the silent space (like in Psalm 131:2). When you get distracted, just come back to the word you came up with and keep going forward in silence.It’s not emptying your mind. You are very connected to God, but you are also fundamentally un-agenda-ed. Learning to let go of your words in the presence of God with a posture of openness, contrition, and longing is truly beautiful.
(G) Having close friends around me in relationship with no strings attached is also important. I was able to recognize my own need for soul care when people around me told me that they didn’t see things like joy in me.
(M) One of the flaws of the spiritual formation movement is that it can skew isolationist. Solitude IS vital and has a place, but we truly do transform in the context of relationships. Without withdrawal, we can’t be with ourselves, God, or anyone else in a healthy way – but that needs to flow into relationship where we can show up to people and let them show up to us.
Being Authentic vs. Shame
(J) Most of us who grew up in an economy of faith that was just believe and behave. So when we don’t feel like we are performing well, the Enemy lays shame on top of us. The relationships we enter in to break us from that must be like-minded and they must be gut-level honest. They have to realize it’s not about just memorizing a verse or having the perfect theology. (How do we find those?) It’s hard to do that as a pastor within the church – you need to find people outside of your church locally, but mostly you need people who are walking the same type of path. The Stadia family has been huge in that for me. When your connection with another person is spiritual, you don’t have to keep up on every nuance of life, so distance is okay.
(M) Solicit the services of a formal spiritual director – people who are trained to help you pay attention to the work of God in your life. Everyone needs three professionals in their lives – a counselor, a spiritual director, and a life coach to deal with past, present, and future!