Scroggins said churches need to see pastors ‘manage’ their real-life families


INDIANAPOLIS — Jimmy Scroggins said he doesn’t have a magic marriage — he has a real marriage. The same goes for his parenting.

“I love my family, but what I know is that in my own life and in my own marriage with my own kids I need to be encouraged, and the people in my church need to be encouraged in their marriage and in their parenting,” said Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in south Florida. 

So as he preached to those present at the SBC Pastors Conference on Monday in Indianapolis, he encouraged them to live out their real-life family situation with faithfulness as they lead their churches.

“If you’re married, your wife is a treasure and a gift to you,” Scroggins said. “Your ability to keep her and to be faithful to her and to love her like Christ loves the church is vital to your credibility as the lead pastor of your church.”

But, he said, “What the church needs is not you casting forth an image of perfection that is not true or accessible.” 

What the church needs instead is to see pastors and their wives loving each other, sticking together and fighting for their marriage, Scroggins said. “When your church sees you forgiving easily and restoring quickly it makes it easier for your church to believe that that’s what God does.”

To him, that fits with what Paul is talking about in 1 Timothy 3 when he writes that a church overseer must manage his own family well.

“Right square in the middle of this passage is a man’s marriage and a man’s parenting and a man’s family life,” Scroggins said. “Notice that he doesn’t say a pastor must have a perfect family. He says he must manage his household well. Manage. That kind of suggests that in a pastor’s family there might be some things that have to be managed.”

Scroggins said many pastors struggle with that though, because when they’re trying to manage difficult situations in their family, who do they tell?

He shared the stories of several pastors who had called recently to share about the issues they were facing in their marriages and with their children.

“That’s life,” Scroggins said. “Pastor, you cannot go into the fetal position and fake like everything’s perfect. You have to fight.”

But they aren’t on their own in the fight, he said. “You’ve got to find some people who will circle the wagons around you and fight with you, fight for you.”

He said that there have been many nights that he and his wife have been on the floor of their bedroom “crying puddles” for their kids.

“There are things that are going to have to be managed, and you don’t have to project perfection,” Scroggins said. “That’s not real, and it’s not accessible to the people in your church. People to see you manage the same struggles they are managing.”

In addition to showing their churches their real-life families, Scroggins suggested three practical ways for pastors to be faithful to families in their churches and communities.

  1. Go all in on marriage.

Young adults aren’t getting married — they’re living together, or they’re perpetually dating, Scroggins said. “It’s bad for society, and it’s bad for our churches. We should teach the people in our church to get married and get married younger.”

  1. Go all in on kids.

“Young couples are waiting too long to have kids, and then they’re having too few of them,” he said. “There’s not a number … but most people should have more.”

Encourage couples to have more kids, then as a church equip them to raise those children with sound theology.

  1. Consider starting a school.

“Every church with a building should be trying to figure out how to have some sort of school in there,” Scroggins said.

Even if pastors think they don’t need it now, “you will need it, because this whole culture is going the wrong direction,” he said. “Consider hosting a school, starting a school or helping another church start a school.”

That’s needed to “form these kids to be the next generation of people who will take the gospel to the nations,” Scroggins said.

The devil wants all the kids — the kids in each pastor’s family and in his church, Scroggins said. From managing his household well to encouraging families in his church, each pastor has to “cast ourselves on the mercy of God” to fight against that, he said.

“We need to remember this every day in our marriages, our families and our churches — we can win because there is a fountain filled with blood,” Scroggins said.


This story first appeared in The Baptist Paper.