Pastor’s wife: Date Night offers support to ministry couples

By Deidra Hodges, Every Tribe & Nation Baptist Church, Mesa – 

–1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month
–50% of pastors’ marriages end in divorce
–50% of pastors surveyed said they would leave the ministry if they could
–90% said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be
–After three years of ministry, only 50% of pastors still felt “called to ministry”

These statistics and more can be found at http://abcs.org/our-ministries/leader-care. If you had given me these stats when my husband and I first started ministry … I would’ve thought they were a lie. At that time, I had no clue what went on behind closed doors. My husband, however, knew the truth. He is the son of a preacher who eventually had a downfall in ministry. Because of this, our hearts have been led to the importance of care for pastors.

Valley Rim Southern Baptist Association was excited to partner with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention for the first Pastors/Wives Date Night. The evening started with a delicious dinner served by the AZSBC staff. While eating dinner, there were table questions to get to know one another a little deeper. My favorite: What is one thing that people would never guess about you? Let me just say, expect the unexpected. At my table we had a dancer, comedian, cheerleader, drummer, boxer and tattoo artist.

Following dinner, we had a panel discussion with three couples; Billy & Lisa Van Camp, Dennis & Marcia Newkirk, and me and my husband, Josh. The panel was asked questions from the audience about life in ministry, disappointments, children, protecting their marriage, etc.  While the questions were personal, my hope is that the people in the room could see our transparency and know that they are not alone in ministry. There is always someone who has either traveled the road you are on or are willing to travel it with you.

As the couples left for the evening, they were given a gift bag assembled by Valley Rim and the AZSBC that included lots of goodies and a gift card allowing the couple to carve out some alone time for another date night.

Looking back at the sad statistics mentioned above, I believe this event could quite possibly be a starting point to turning those around. The date night was an opportunity for us to create an environment that encourages relationships among ministry leaders and their spouses. Developing strong, healthy, authentic relationships with our peers in ministry will not eliminate such sad stories, but I think it goes a long way.

This night would not have been possible if it weren’t for churches giving to both the Cooperative Program and to the Valley Rim Southern Baptist Association. Partnerships like these help our pastors feel supported and energized to continue doing the work of the ministry.

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