Healthy pastors, healthy churches

NASHVILLE, TN – Pastors not only want to succeed at church and home, we are required to. Is there any profession on this planet besides ours that requires you to win at work and home? Not that I am aware of.

Having been a pastor and husband for thirty years, I realize the challenges that come with the territory and enjoy helping pastors win through our initiatives at LifeWay Pastors. You are blessed to belong to a state convention who also understands what is at stake. Last April, the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) and LifeWay co-hosted two Pastor Date Nights in metro Lansing and Detroit for about 80 couples. My wife, Janet, and I moderated a panel discussion with Executive Director Tim and Sabrina Patterson, and Southgate pastor Billy and Laurie Walker. Those date nights typically involve a meal or dessert and a conversational Q&A centered around helping pastors win at home and church.

2018 Event Dates:

July 15-16 The Shack Lodge Inn & Hotel (

July 17-18 Bavarian Inn Lodge (

July 19-20 The Kensington Hotel (

I am encouraged with how Michigan Baptists are taking pastoral health seriously. The BSCM website and events have been designed to equip pastors to lead their lives, homes, and ministries in a biblically intentional way. When state director of evangelism Mike Durbin asked Janet and me to speak at their marriage conferences this coming July, we jumped at the opportunity. These events will be regional, which will make it easier for you to attend and build your ministry marriage. Stay tuned for more details, and when they come, please save the date and inform your spouse.

LifeWay just released a groundbreaking study in September about the lives of Protestant pastors’ spouses. “The representative study of 720 spouses found their lives are complicated and filled with blessing and stresses,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

Among the findings:

  • 93 percent believe their spouse is a good fit for the present church.

  • 90 percent think ministry has had a positive effect on their family.

  • 85 percent say, “The church we serve takes good care of us.”

  • 83 percent enjoy their ministry work.

  • 79 percent are satisfied with their role in ministry.

Still, there are many challenges. Conflict in a church and a sense of loneliness are commonplace. Among the issues:

  • 72 percent say their spouse has experienced resistance in the church.

  • 69 percent say they have few people they can confide in.

  • 68 percent worry about having enough money for retirement.

  • 59 percent say church commitments limit family time.

  • 49 percent say, “If I were honest at church about my prayer needs, they would just become gossip.”

Why is investing in your marriage so important to your ministry? Because your ministry will never be stronger than your marriage. The last two pastors I followed ended their ministry with a marriage meltdown. You already know that prevention is less painful, and less expensive, than intervention.

Everyone is equal in God’s sight, but you and I are not God, so let your convention and LifeWay invest in your most important discipleship group—your family, starting with your spouse.



Mark Dance served as a pastor for nearly three decades before becoming the Director of LifeWay Pastors in 2014. Mark is a graduate of Howard Payne University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as well as The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Janet, live in Nashville, TN.



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