The Olathe News

Pastor promotes intimacy among married couples

By Jack Weinstein


It may be difficult to discuss. It may even make some blush. For an Olathe pastor and his wife, it’s a subject they’ll address together in February as part of a series on marriage and love.
And Lead Pastor Timmy Gibson and his wife Jana, of Mercy Church, are taking the annual series to a new level.

They’re challenging their congregation’s married couples to engage in some form of “hanky panky” each day in February.

While the definition of hanky panky may refer specifically to the act of sex, that’s not necessarily the tenor of the the message, Timmy Gibson said Friday. Hanky panky could be a massage, reading a poem to one another or pillow talk, he said.

“A lot of times when you get married, after about a year or two, you quit dating, you’re busy,” he said. “Then when you add kids into the mix, intimacy kind of goes out the window and you’re lucky to get once a week to have a time to connect.

“So we’re really trying to get people to intentionally everyday make room and make time for each other in an intimate way.”

But there’s a twist, Gibson said.

“We don’t want it to be all back rubs,” he said. “We’re not saying ‘Hey, give a back rub every night and just have pillow talk.’ We’re hoping to create intimacy and lovemaking on a real regular basis.”

And Gibson added: “We’re taking the challenge by the way. We’re going to do it.”

While it may seem radical, or at least unconventional, the Gibsons aren’t the first to suggest the approach.

Timmy Gibson said a church in Florida issued a similar 30-day challenge last year. A Texas pastor encouraged his congregation’s married couples last November to have sex each day for a week. And a Church in Sacremento issued the month-long challenge earlier this month.

The Gibson’s have been counseling couples for 15 years and have conducted the marriage and love series at Mercy, which opened in 2003, for about five years.

In the series, the Gibsons’ address a topic at each Sunday service held at Olathe South High School, 1640 E. 151st St. It culminates in a “raw and unleased” discussion about sex at 6 p.m. Feb. 22. It’s not rude or crude, Timmy Gibson said, but really goes below the surface to address things that may not ordinarily be talked about.

After a Q&A session, as part of the sex discussion, the Gibson’s separate the men from women and each lead separate talks that really get into the “nitty gritty details.”

Timmy Gibson said those are usually the I-can’t-talk-about-that-with-my-wife discussions. Last year, when they separated the men and women for the first time, Jana Gibson said things got a bit uncomfortable for her.

“Talking about sex is, you’re so vulnerable – that’s the most vulnerable place you can be,” she said and paused. “... I blushed, a lot,”

Timmy Gibson said everyone enters marriage with some hang ups or issues from the past that sometimes affect their relationship. He said they had their issues. But after learning how to talk about them during a 15-year marriage, Jana Gibson said, they’ve created an open and honest relationship. She said they talk about everything, personal or otherwise. They hope to encourage others to do the same and the church provided a safe place to do that.

“Be able to have that conversation,” Timmy Gibson said. “Don’t make it off limits. Don’t put up the stop sign. Talk about it.

“It’s all about focusing people on marriage, on their marriage,” he added of the challenge. “You get so busy with work, with school, with kids or just life. You’re just packed busy doing everything. And we forget to really reconnect, to date and really love each other.”

So far, he said the reception they’ve received about the challenge from the Mercy congregation, which has grown to between 500 and 600 members, has been positive. The Gibsons said the marriage and love series has always been well received. And they’re excited about the addition of the challenge. They hope the congregation has fun and maybe creates a little intimacy in the process.

But Jana Gibson said there may be an unintended consequence of the hanky panky challenge.
“About nine months from now, we’ll have more babies,” she said and laughed.