ARC Women Spotlight | Irene Rollins
Name: Irene Rollins
Church and City: i5 City – Glen Burnie, MD
Launch Date: September 2012
Current Role: Co – Lead Pastor
Family: Husband, Jimmy (married 17 years); Children, Kayla (15), Jaden (14) and Maya (11)
What were your feelings when your husband told you that God had called him to plant a church (or in some cases, when you both felt that way)?
It was an instantaneous “YES” to the call when I met my husband in 1998, but I had no clue what I was getting into at 21 years old without a church background. All I knew was that I was in love with this man and the God he served.
At about the same point in time, about 12 years into full time ministry serving my husband’s parents in their church, my husband and I both began to feel a shift and God calling us to launch a ministry that seemed quite different from church as we knew it.
The vision God gave us was to be an outward church, serve the local and global community, and reach families and people far from God in ways that were not typical of the church we were used to. Starting out with a youth track and field club, which has now grown into middle school elite football teams as well, gave me such life! A diverse church is what we knew we were called to build. That’s a vision I could get down with and I was all in! Seeing life change in people was all it took to completely ruin me for the call on my life to serve God through i5 Church! It has been the vehicle to introduce people to Jesus whether it is within the church building, serving the community, or in the stands at a youth sporting event.
For you personally, what has been your biggest challenge through planting and/or pastoring and what have you learned from it?
I have learned that being emotionally healthy is critical to the success of our church. If we did not get emotionally healthy, the church would only go so far. The heaviness of the responsibility both in the natural and spiritual would take us out if we were not healthy. Our ministry would only be as strong as the health of our marriage as well. There is too much at stake not to get it together.
The work is worth it! Lot’s of counseling and accountability is what I learned are critical to the journey. Healthy leaders equal a healthy church. We cannot do ministry alone.
In what ways has God reassured that you are called to be a pastor’s wife?
In 2013 I had the privilege of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa to raise money and awareness for water projects and needs in remote parts of East Africa. The Lord spoke to me and told me that my mountain journey would liken that of my journey into being a pastor’s wife and leading i5 Church. It would be hard sometimes and I would want to give up. It would be the hardest thing I had ever done just like the climb to 19,341 feet!
On the mountain, the guides told me “pole, pole” which means slowly, slowly in Swahili. He told me that I must RESPECT THE MOUNTAIN, which represented my journey. Slowly the Lord would reveal to me that I must be the BEST VERSION OF MYSELF that I could be. That is what i5 Church needed most and the best thing I can do for my church. God created the body with all different parts. They are all different and all have different functions but they are all needed and valued.
1 Corinthians 12:18 (NLT) “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where He wants it.”
I am confident in His Word. This set me free!
What is something your family does to manage the balance between raising a family and pastoring a growing church?
The Rollins 5, as we call ourselves, have some non-negotiable practices that have been mission critical in keeping our family unit healthy:
- Family meetings – we talk honestly about feelings and listen to one another without judgment. We listen to understand. This creates a safe place for our kids.
- Deposits of family quality time before and after busy ministry times. This lets our kids know that our family is the priority.
- We serve together. Our children LOVE THE CHURCH and love serving! We involve them in stories of life-change so they can see that when they allow us to do what we are called to, they are in turn part of helping God change someone’s life.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before planting a church?
I wish I had known that ARC Women existed and how important friends in ministry would be to our journey. You can’t do ministry alone! Isolation and lack of guidance and accountability is DANGEROUS!
In my story I created a lot of suffering for myself in silence and isolation because I did not realize there were people out there that could help me process through my emotions and the ups and downs of ministry. I do not have to be perfect. I have to be authentic, honest and accountable with safe people and then offer the same to others in ministry as the Lord leads.