By Chuck Eckerson
In June, during a FamilyLife Leadership Team training in Jos, Nigeria, the leadership team talked about the desperate needs pastors face in their marriages. They are often torn between the demands of their church and the demands of their marriage and family. Often, the pastors have no place to turn for help with their marriage or with achieving better harmony and balance between their ministry and their marriage. Pastors cannot, for example, join a typical HomeBuilders® small group. It is simply not realistic for them in their culture to have the level of transparency needed to participate effectively in the group.
Rev. Daniel and Elizabeth Ogundayo are on the FamilyLife leadership team in Jos, a city of 900,000 people. Pastor Ogundayo wondered if perhaps the Lord was prompting them to start a HomeBuilders group just for pastor couples. Being a pastor himself, Daniel would be seen as a peer and have the credibility and respect to lead such a group. And he could create an environment where it would be safe for the pastors and their wives to study what God’s word teaches about marriage and discuss how to apply it both in their cultural context and with the unique challenges of being in church ministry.
A few days later, at a seminar specifically designed to help pastors balance their marriage and ministry, Pastor Ogundayo felt prompted to say a few words to pastors at the end of the seminar. He appealed to them to start a marriage ministry in their churches using FamilyLife’s HomeBuilders studies and the Art of Marriage for couples’ retreats. And he also appealed to them, as pastors, to consider joining a HomeBuilders group that he would lead.
Last month, the first steps were taken to turn this dream into a reality. Daniel and Elizabeth launched their first HomeBuilders group specifically for pastor couples. Three other pastor couples have joined their group. They are using Building Your Marriage to Last, a study that lays a solid foundation for biblical marriages.
It is their hope that this group would grow and flourish and continue on with another study in the HomeBuilders series. They also hope that some of the pastor couples will catch the vision and decide to lead their own groups and invite other pastors to join them. Perhaps this cycle could repeat itself enough to start a movement among the pastors and transform their marriages with God’s word. Perhaps leaders of local ministers’ associations could be trained to lead HomeBuilders studies. Perhaps Pastor Ogundayo will host an Art of Marriage event specifically for local pastors. The possibilities go on and on.
For now, we can be satisfied that one pastor, Pastor Ogundayo, and his wife are taking steps of faith and obedience and are having an impact on the marriages of other pastors.