The first twenty years of my ministry I spent serving as a pastor in the local church. During that time working with teens, families, and marriages, I began to look systematically at the family and realized that the core ingredient to making all of this work was a healthy marriage. It’s interesting to think that the entirety of scripture is built on this relational frame of marriage. The “Body of Christ” is called the “Bride of Christ.” In fact, in Ephesians it says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” Do you realize that’s the only time in Scripture that Jesus uses the analogy of His death to make a point? He’s reserved that comparison for marriage. That’s how important our marriage relationships are to God.
If marriage is so important, why don’t more people get married and stay married? I began to notice that while in some areas of the country the divorce rate has stabilized, the marriage rate has diminished. This has created some new challenges that will face the church in the days ahead. It came to me that before a person gets married they have a shared experience called a date. That same truth applies to the couple that gets married – staying connected in their marriage requires them to continue dating. That’s when the magic “aha” moment occurred. We’ve been so focused on defining and defending marriage that we’ve missed one of the most critical links to a successful relationship – “Date Night.”
Over the last 5 years I’ve worked with organizations and churches across the country to introduce date nights into their relational programming. It’s one of the most strategic and yet simple concepts for a church to engage in. In fact the beauty of “date night” is that it’s already a term that is marketed. Couples look forward to going out on date night. Churches should think about the opportunity in front of them to leverage a date night to launch their next sermon series or relationship initiative.
Here’s why date night works:
- It provides a shared experience for couples.
- It gives us the opportunity to be intentional in our relationship.
- It’s an investment in “us.”
- It models healthy relationships and boundaries to our kids.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all.” Hebrews 13:4 (ESV)
This Valentine’s Day, Focus on the Family has a very special opportunity for you to honor your marriage and the marriages in your community. Go to their website, and check out the Honoring Marriage Event Kit for the couples in your church. It comes complete with the brand new “Date Night Challenge: Comedy Edition.” This event is filled with a stage full of great comedians who use humor to share the truth about relationships. The beauty is that, this year, February 14th falls on a Sunday. What better way to honor marriage than by doing something good for the relationships in your church?