By Aaron Wilson
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—More than 80 ministry couples got a jump-start on Valentine’s plans last week as Lifeway Christian Resources held a Pastor Date Night Feb. 12 at its downtown headquarters.
The event marked the 38th Pastor Date Night Lifeway has hosted over the course of four years in locations that span 19 states and Canada. Mark Dance, director of Lifeway Pastors, and his wife, Janet, host Pastor Date Nights to help leaders develop healthy marriages and tackle questions specific to couples in ministry.
“Vocational ministry is the only profession on the planet that requires people to win at both work and home,” Mark told attendees at the Feb. 12 event. “It’s in our 2,000-year-old job description that if we’re to manage our church, we have to manage our home. We want to help you win at both.”
The event at Lifeway was held in partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB) and six metro Nashville Baptist associations.
“Pastor Date Night was a great opportunity to show these couples that they’re loved, appreciated and valued,” said Steve Holt, church services director at TBMB. “It was a blessing to see the interaction between couples around the tables, to hear the laughter and to witness the transparency of panelists as they shared from the stage.”
Pastor Date Nights are driven by a formula that involves fellowship, free food and the opportunity to ask anonymous questions to a panel of seasoned ministry couples via text messaging.
“That’s probably the most significant part of the whole event,” Mark said. “The wallflower in the corner has just as much a voice as the extrovert on the front row.”
Before sending in text questions, couples enter a dining area set up as a date atmosphere with music playing in the background. Round tables invite guests to mingle and develop new friendships as dinner is served.
“After about 45 minutes, I’ll introduce the panel, which consists of Janet, me and another couple or two in ministry,” Mark said. “I let them know we’re not here to talk about growing their church but about growing them personally. We’re here to help them get healthy and stay healthy.”
At the Feb. 12 event, the Dances were joined as panelists by Mike Glenn, pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn., and his wife, Jeannie. The two couples tackled questions attendees anonymously texted in such as:
- How do you balance church work and marriage?
- What are some healthy pastor marriage habits?
- How open should you be with your spouse about church conflict?
- How do you take a day off with all the challenges of ministry?
- What’s the hardest part about being a pastor’s wife?
“It’s important for pastors’ wives to have their questions answered candidly by people who understand them,” Janet said. “[Being a pastor’s wife] is a life with unique challenges as well as blessings. A pastor’s wife is very hesitant to share among people who don’t understand this life.”
As Lifeway Pastors events have gained traction across the country, Baptist associations, conventions and seminaries have all partnered with Lifeway to host Pastor Date Nights and Pastor Roundtables—seminary luncheons that include a panel discussion. By the end of 2019, all seven SBC seminaries, including the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Alberta, will have hosted at least one Lifeway Pastors event.
“Seminaries are a crucial key to our strategy of pastoral care,” Mark said. “We also want couples to know early in their ministry that Lifeway cares about their lives and families, as well as their ministries.”
The next Pastor Roundtable Event will be held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, on March 4. The next Pastor Date Night will be held in Indianapolis, on April 5.
To see all 2019 Lifeway Pastors offerings, visit FactsAndTrends.net/events.
Aaron Wilson is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.