ARC Women Spotlight | Jennifer Foster
Name: Jennifer Foster
Church and City: Hope City in Houston, Texas
Launch Date: January 2015
Current Role (if any): I pastor alongside my husband and I oversee all special projects like Easter, Mother’s Day, baby dedications, etc.
Family: Husband of 17 years Jeremy; children Jayden (16), Jeselyn (15), Jillian (5), Jackson (19 months), and brand new son, Josiah, born on Mother’s Day.
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)?
We actually knew it together but it didn’t start that way. Jeremy comes from a long line of pastors but never felt like he was supposed to be a senior pastor. In fact when I met him, he was in a rock band and I had just given my life to Jesus. Shortly after our wedding Jeremy felt called to ministry but I knew nothing about it. This created conflict in our marriage along with years of baggage that I was dealing with. Jeremy was a natural and I was drowning. We went through several years of a really hard season that I think became the foundation for the beautiful marriage that we have now. During that time I learned to trust God and believe in my husband.
We knew God was calling us to do something but we weren’t sure what. Through a season of prayer and fasting we began to find that planting a church was what God was calling us to do. It wasn’t an easy decision and we were scared to death but we were scared together. Together we trusted that God had called us and here we are still together and still trusting.
For you personally, what was the biggest challenge or struggle you faced during the planting process? How did you overcome it?
The planting process is hard and unpredictable. Big faith and trusting God is required, and these things don’t come easy to me. When we first started the process of planting, like most planters we had no insurance, no steady income and my husband was traveling a lot. Security is everything to me, so it was really hard not knowing where our next check would come from or how much it would be. My husband has always been a man of faith and it was his faith that helped me overcome my fears. He would tell me, “Baby, it’s going to be okay, God’s got this” and I would respond with “That sounds great but how?” I’ve learned over time that God rarely answers that one. Jeremy continually encouraged me and we just trusted God. During the planting season contentment is key. I wasn’t raised with much and for most of our marriage Jeremy and I didn’t have much but we were always taken care of. When we felt called to plant I told him we would do whatever we needed to do to fulfill the vision. We were prepared to sell our cars and house but God stayed so faithful and every month we were taken care of. We didn’t always know where it was going to come from but it was there every month.
With a large (and growing) family, how do you personally make sure that you’re not taking on too much?
The answer is found in coffee and spa days. I’m kidding. I hear people talk about balance, I think it’s a myth. Try balancing 4 (well, now 5) kids, a busy husband, a growing church and a baby on the way. You can’t, balance would be chaos. For us the idea of rhythm works so much better than balance. Ministry is hard work. It doesn’t matter if you just started a church plant and only have a few or if you are running thousands on the weekend and your staff looks like a small army. I’ve learned in every season you carry something different and it’s always rewarding but it’s never easy. We move at the rhythm that the season requires.
For us there are seasons where we know we are going to have to put our heads down and run but there are also seasons of rest. We intentionally plan our rest rhythm.
Practical stuff like date nights are crucial. Our family comes together around the dinner table every day (even if it’s take out, which it usually is). 😊 The last thing I’ll say on this is that I believe we have our priorities right. It’s Jesus at the center and then we build out from there, our marriage, our kids and then our church. I’ve seen pastors and their wives get this all wrong and their kids suffer and their marriage suffers. We love the people in our church but they don’t come before our family.
What has God done in or through your church that has left you in awe of His greatness?
I’m in awe every week and if that feeling ever goes away we are doing something wrong. For me the moments of awe come in seeing one person whose life is changed by Jesus. There’s nothing more rewarding. We also get the opportunity to share our personal testimony of a broken marriage that God put back together. It was the hardest time of our lives and God uses it to strengthen and restore so many. I love hearing someone tell us that they stuck it out when they heard our story. God needs us as pastors to be real and vulnerable. People can relate to that.
How has being a part of the ARC Women community benefitted you in this journey?
Just being able to find common ground with women who are fighting the same struggles beside you. It helps to know I’m not alone in this. In ministry you can feel very lonely and guarded and with ARC you can just be vulnerable. We just left ARC conference and one of my favorite take aways was the ladies’ panel. It was just real women sharing their struggles and what ministry life looks like for them. I loved hearing their different perspectives on ministry and life. You can always find the one you are most like and it’s that moment that makes you feel okay and not alone. It’s kind of like an “I’ve got this” moment and we all need to be reminded that from time to time. Being around my ARC friends does just that for me.