Made to Thrive, Not Just Survive:
Enjoying Date Nights in Community
by Paula Fabe
It started when four wives who were in the early years of married life started gathering regularly for prayer, fellowship, and the Word. Struggling with the new rhythms that came with this new season, they yearned for a community that could meet them where they were.
Eventually, these young wives prayed that their husbands would join them in their gatherings. This prayer was answered a year later. Fast-forward another two years, and what started as a wives’ group turned into a beautiful community of young married couples doing life and following Jesus together.
A Vision for a Young Couples’ Community
Date Night is a regular gathering of couples married 0 to 10 years. We meet quarterly as a large group, where we listen, engage with, and receive wisdom from amazing couples who have walked the road ahead of us.
We also gather in small groups monthly for accountability and to enjoy a safe space where we could share our lives with one another.
Our vision is to build a community of Gospel-centered marriages that are living in light of eternity, dependent on the power of God, and maximized for and focused on fulfilling the Great Commission.
“…a community of Gospel-centered marriages…”
In outworking this vision, we value four things every time we come together: Word-focused conversations, Gospel-saturated stories, prayer-soaked friendships, and mission-driven pursuits.
It is also our desire to pursue Kingdom partnerships and relationships, so we set up Date Night to be an open event for Jesus-following couples from other churches.
Frank and Maya Narra, one of the couples in the Date Night planning team, share their reflections on the journey of helping build the community by God’s grace:
“Leading the Date Night community allows us to witness the Gospel’s transforming work in marriages. It causes us to also see God’s unique ways of shaping husbands and wives in the different seasons of married life to reflect Christ’s love for the Church. It is a humbling experience to serve the Lord and walk alongside couples and see how the Lord can use their marriages to bring honor and glory to God to bless the nations.” -Team Narra
Marriage in the Early Years: A Transition Point
Why build a young couples’ community? Many of us realized that during our dating years, we did not have a lot of people speaking into our lives. It’s not that no one was willing, but there was somehow an unspoken rule that you only seek out mentoring in this aspect once you’re formally engaged.
We also observed that in marriage and the early years of family life, the people that we used to see heavily steeped in community and ministry go MIA (Missing in Action). All of a sudden, raising young kids or working for extra income consumes their lives and they are no longer able to do the things they used to do.
Those who have been here know it all too well: the never-ending routine of caring for littles while getting as much housework and actual work done, coordinating schedules with your spouse, even the mental load of working from home while parenting full-time during this pandemic. Fast forward a few years, and many of them end up “disappearing” altogether.
While we recognize that this season is very much valid, it is also temporary. The kids will grow up, and we will eventually have some more time to ourselves then. However, somewhere between getting married and getting through the first few years, there seems to be a gap that needs to be plugged in.
“We want to qualify what ‘family as your first ministry’ means in light of God’s plans and purposes.”
This is where we see our community playing our role–to support young married couples going through the transition point of settling into their new season and starting families. We want to qualify what “family as your first ministry” means in light of God’s plans and purposes.
We want to encourage husbands and wives and affirm their crucial role in the Great Commission, despite the limitations of their current season. As they develop healthy habits and practices in their marriages during this temporary time, they do so with the intention of learning to participate in God’s agenda of making disciples of all nations in their unique context.
Two couples regularly attending Date Night share what this community means to them:
“After attending all the Date Nights, we learned so much from the lessons and from the sharing of other couples even if we are already almost-a-decade married. And really, being a part of this community came at such a perfect time when we all are needing connection and a bit of socialization during this pandemic. It makes our hearts happy that we get to fellowship with other couples, learning more about the biblical principles of marriage, praying with and for our respective marriages, and adopting a Word-focused approach in living our lives for God.”
-Tim and Daryl Castillo, Fairview Fundamental Baptist Church
“We feel really blessed to be part of the Date Night community. We always look forward to our quarterly sessions so that we can have fellowship with other young married couples and learn about different topics about married Christian life from the inspiring speakers. Sometimes, it can be challenging to attend the sessions since we have two kids to take care of but we always find time and a way to be able to do so because we don’t want to miss the exciting sessions. Praying that the community will be stronger, and will reach out to and bless more couples and young families!”
-Alan and Jo Manuel,
Capitol City Baptist Church
Thriving Marriages for the Glory of God
Ultimately, it is our prayer that God would use the Date Night Community to ignite fresh Gospel insights in each marriage – that husbands and wives would delight in God as they delight in each other, disciple their children and other people entrusted to them in light of God’s redemptive plan for the nations, pursue a union that reflects Christ’s love for the Church, and stay connected to a safe community that does life together as they anticipate Jesus’ sure return.
This, for us, is what it means to thrive–to embrace our season with all its joys and challenges, receive willingly from God and others, participate faithfully in God’s mission however He calls us to step out as a family, and let Him lead and fill in all the gaps.