Communio’s Date Night Challenge

A Message from J.P. De Gance and Communio:

This Father’s Day, 12 million boys live in families without their biological father.

By the time most children reach age 17, most will lack the regular, day-to-day presence of a dad in their life.

An explosion of thought pieces will circulate about our nation’s fatherhood crisis this weekend.  From school shootings, to the alarming growth of violent crime, to the epidemic of depression and drug overdoses—a broken father relationship is so often at the source.

To quote my co-author, John Van Epp, in our book Endgame:

“The primary problem of fathers today is not their parenting . . . it is their partnering.”

While plenty of exceptions exist, statistically speaking unmarried fathers are generally unattached and uninvolved fathers.  In Endgame, John went on to cite a joint study by Princeton and Columbia Universities that found 70 percent of unmarried moms said they planned to marry the father of their baby. Surprisingly, 82 percent of the unmarried dads in this study said they planned to marry the mother of their baby.

“But here is the thing: On the five-year follow-up, only 16 percent had actually married and 65 percent had broken up.”

While many policy makers and philanthropists will engage in meaningful discussions about how to address this crisis, the reality is…

The fatherhood crisis cannot be solved without solving the marriage crisis.

Increasing the number of marriages, the number of kids born in marriage, and the number of kids raised in healthy marriages is really the only way to fix the fatherhood gap.

And thanks to the support of our generous donors, Communio is serving churches across the country to solve our nation’s marriage and family crisis.

Our vision is to reach a tipping point in American churches where we make an evangelizing focus on relationship and marital health the central piece of their ministry.  Churches can then change our culture.

And, we’re making great progress.  Communio is on pace to add between 100 and 120 new church partners—more than doubling the number of churches we supported in 2021.  This includes new evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic partnerships focused on top 40 metro areas. In just the last month:

  • The most influential Methodist church in Kentucky is now a partner.
  • The Archdiocese of Kansas City has signed a contract with Communio to support parishes across the archdiocese, helping them prioritize relationship ministry.
  • New church clients are starting work with Communio across Montana, in Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis-St Paul.

Our evangelical church partners in Billings, Montana have reported that they are seeing attendance grow 22.5 percent since the start of our partnership with them.

Billings is the largest city in the state of Montana and our largest church partner there is Harvest Church.  They’ve caught the vision for championing marriage and are running their own Ministry Engagement Ladder®:

The church set an ambitious goal of getting 50 cohabiting couples into Christian marriage.  Toward that end, six cohabiting couples completed their marriage preparation course and counseling.

This summer, Harvest Church is running a series of family fun nights that are expected to attract between 600 and 1,000 participants where they are promoting small groups and classes on parenting for intact families and for stepfamilies.

In Denver, our partner church Centennial Covenant Church is in a heavily Gen Z and Millennial part of the metro area.  They are targeting the creative community with a series of Brushes and Sips nights.  The most recent drew 75 percent of its participants from outside of the church.  These events include relationship skills activities while couples build community with one another.  A number of participants were not yet married.

The pastor let us know that a man who had stopped attending church years ago was in attendance.

“I was struck by one post-church attender who was surprised that a church would offer an event like this, and who also was so excited about how many events for artists we were offering this summer.”

As the summer months continue, a number of our partner churches are hosting Date Night Challenges, creating contests where couples compete by going on dates and practice relationship skills.  I’ve included an example of a screen shot of one of these challenges below.

To pioneer these Date Night Challenges, Communio worked with Fellowship of the Parks, one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing evangelical churches.  Now, we’re working to proliferate these learnings across the country.

Mary, as you continue to enjoy this Father’s Day weekend, I hope you are encouraged by all the work churches are doing to strengthen fatherhood by building healthy marriages.  It’s easy to look at the evening news and curse the darkness. Instead, our generous donors and church partners have decided to take action.

So much lies ahead.

Best regards,