Isolation and loneliness are issues most pastors struggle with when it comes to ministering in rural communities. Plus, multiplying a small town church can feel daunting. As the Small Town Specialist for Multiply Vineyard, time and time again I hear rural pastors share their longing for support and connection with other pastors.
This is how it was for me in ministry for the first 10 years of pastoring in a rural community in Northern Wisconsin.
Then, I was introduced to church planting triads. Through this concept, I began to experience a whole new way of ministering in my context and I saw an opportunity for the kingdom of God to spread in my area .
A triad is a way of planting a church by having three churches partner together to help plant and support that church. It also includes support for your local church as you journey through ministry together.
The triad we started 4 years ago in Wisconsin with churches in Chippewa Falls, Stanley, and Tomahawk is still going strong out of the mutual support for one another’s churches. We’ve met monthly over these years, building open, real, and honest relationships. It has not only built up our churches in new ways, but our personal and spiritual lives as well. Even during the darkest times, we were able to have two other pastors to lean on who are listening to us, counseling us, and praying for us.
In May 2018, our church and myself went through a very difficult few weeks. Our worship leader passed away from cancer. Then on Mother’s Day while finishing up the service, I had a heart attack. It was an incredibly heavy time for our church community.
Our triad churches supported us through this time by sending people to preach, praying for me, helping us through our grief, and being real friends. This allowed us to be able to make it through this challenging season.
Beyond just local support, our Triad has been able to launch two new church plants. We now support these church plants in the same way with resourcing, coaching, mentoring, and our prayers. These planters realize they do not have to go it alone. We are in this with them.
As I reflect back on the past 4 years, I am amazed at how God has brought our churches together; this leads me to look forward to the future of doing life, ministry, and seeing God’s kingdom multiply in my area. To quote Phil Strout, the VineyardUSA National Director, we truly are “better together!”
Why Start a Triad
Michael Houle is the pastor of the Valley Vineyard Church. He and his wife, Trisha, and their 2 children planted the church in 2005. Until going full time with the church, Michael had been bi-vocational working as a substitute teacher. He is an active team member of Small Town USA. Michael enjoys reading, various sports, and watching his Green Bay Packers.