There is a temptation to lump religious people into the same category as non-religious people when it comes to predicting the success rate of marriage. Many have promoted the idea that the divorce rate among the two groups is nearly the same.
Speculation that non-religious couples are more likely to cohabitate rather than get married has caused some to skew the numbers toward a higher rate of divorce among people of faith, even though that can’t be verified.
Ed Stetzer points out a fact that is likely overlooked in the research. Among active people of faith, the divorce rate goes way down. Only if you look at non-practicing believers is there greater similarity in the figures.
Turns out, it’s not just about casually aligning yourself with a group of faith. You’ve actually got to practice what you preach for there to be any impact to your relationship. Novel idea, huh?
Active Faith Impacts Marriage
Imagine if you coupled an active faith with an intentional focus on keeping marriages in your church strong. If the numbers go up when people take their faith seriously, imagine how they would skyrocket if they actually turned specific attention to improving their marriage.
That’s why a marriage ministry at your church is important. You may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of adding one more thing to the list of activities sponsored by your congregation. However, it doesn’t have to be highly involved or expensive. It just has to be intentional.
If you’re still on the fence, consider these four points.
Not different problems, a different solution.
The people in your congregation don’t have any less exposure to marital troubles than people outside the walls of your church. They are still susceptible to miscommunication, conflict, sexual temptation, physical challenges, and other stumbling blocks.
The difference is how we respond to those obstacles, and the grace upon which we rely to get through them. Understanding how those two gifts should work within marriage is vitally important. A good marriage ministry teaches couples how to respond to problems and to accept the grace that God offers.
You’ve got a great cloud of witnesses.
There is nothing worse than going through one of life’s storms and feeling like you’re alone. When there is a group in your church working to preserve, protect, and help marriages, struggling couples have a safe place to turn. And, they feel less isolated in their struggles as they walk alongside other couples.
Go beyond information to transformation.
A good marriage ministry doesn’t just serve as a conduit for transferring facts, figures, and inspirational sayings. Only one that promotes and facilitates behavior change will have a true impact on your church family. That’s really the whole point of why we came to know the Lord in the first place, isn’t it? It wasn’t just about knowing who He was, it was about letting Him make a difference in our lives. The result of any effort in your church, including marriage ministry, should be positive change that moves people toward Christ.
Repetition anchors change.
After serving thousands of couples with an 85 percent success rate, we’re sold on one of the ingredients of our “special sauce.” Our offerings are designed to facilitate a community of people dedicated to working on their marriage for the long haul.
Week after week, couples develop the habit of paying regular attention to their marriage. They share their highs and lows and discover steps they can take to produce transformation in their relationship.
In our opinion, the question isn’t whether you have the time, money, or energy to implement a marriage ministry in your church. The real issue is whether you can afford not to. Couples who are active in their faith and consistently attentive to their marriage relationship are on the road to success.
Reposted with permission. Read the original post here.
Marriage Dynamics Institute is a non-profit Christian ministry committed to providing marriage workshops and courses that build safe environments, promote self education, and produce extraordinary results.
I recently spoke at a marriage event at Fellowship Bible Church in Batesville, Ark. The event had a great turnout, primarily because the church did such an incredible job promoting it within their community.
I was so impressed with their work that talked to Tera White about she did to promote the event. And since this is so important, I thought I’d share her answers with you.
Who did you reach out to within the community to help you spread the word?
Our Chamber of Commerce sends out a weekly e-newsletter to roughly 2000 recipients, comprised of Chamber members and other community members. You can advertise free of charge in this newsletter.
As Chamber members, we also have the opportunity to send out two “All About You” email blasts per year to the same e-newsletter distribution list. This advertisement also gets posted to their social media networks.
How did you use digital advertising for the event?
We created a Facebook event for the evening and boosted the event for a month. Boosting allows you to target an audience that you set.
The boosted post will show up in that target group’s newsfeed for the duration and budget you set. Our target was men and women, ages 18 – 65+ who live in Arkansas. This cost us only $30 for the entire month.
The main ad was a picture of Ted & Nancie Lowe, straight from the promotional material.
Our description for the event/ad:
Experience a night of comedy and laughter while exploring what it takes to make a marriage work! During this fun, exciting, ONE-NIGHT marriage event, you will hear from speaker, blogger, and director of MarriedPeople, Ted Lowe and his wife Nancie.
Don’t miss a FREE night out ON US! In addition to our fabulous speakers, we will provide childcare, yummy snacks, a photo booth, and great door prizes!
Let us know by January 21 if you plan to attend, and if you need childcare!
Some ways to let us know you plan to attend:
How did you announce the event in worship and the bulletin?
We began with a basic “Save The Date” graphic about two months out with minimal info during our announcements. We also put the graphic in our church newsletter around the same time.
After a few weeks of “Save the Date” announcements, we moved into giving more detailed information during our announcements with a different graphic. This graphic was the picture of Ted and Nancie with some basic info (date, time, etc) about the event.
Our pastor started a short marriage series two weeks before the event to prepare hearts for the event. He also gave shout outs for the event before each sermon, as well as showing the promo video.
How did you get the word out around your town?
We posted 25 posters around our town. We also put out postcards at the locations that we hung the poster.
What other advice do you have on promoting special events at church?
A few additional avenues that we used:
- Weekly community circulars that allowed us to advertise for free
- Radio spot on a local radio station
- Social Media shares on staff’s personal accounts
- Church Member Chat video that included members of our church telling why they were excited about the event
- Facebook Live video describing event and inviting people to come
How do you promote marriage events at your church?
The Argument Against Valentine’s Day
The United States is expected to spend $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2018. That’s an average of $136.57 per person.
That’s ridiculous in the same way spending an average of $700 per person at Christmas is ridiculous. But there is something really great about this borderline mandatory celebration of love.
I know all the arguments against Valentine’s Day. It’s too commercial. Love should be every day. And I agree.
But, if nothing else, Valentine’s Day gives us the opportunity to pause and say: “I love you.” I actually really like Valentine’s Day, because even struggling married people will make a move in their spouse’s direction. I love that.
Making Valentine’s Day Special
What if the church leveraged what is already happening on Valentine’s Day? What if they helped married couples connect better than they can on their own?
What if the church made Valentine’s Day just a bit more meaningful? What if the church made Valentine’s Day last longer than a day? Your church can do just that. Here are a few options of how you can leverage the Sunday before Valentine’s Day at your church.
1. Go Old School
People go old school at Valentine’s Day. We spent $1 billion on greeting cards last year.
Go old school and give the married people of your church something they can hold in their hands, like a easy, fun book on marriage.
2. Romantic Sticky Notes
Give couples a unique take on the Valentine’s Day with romantic sticky notes. At MarriedPeople, the marriage division of Orange, we created packs of sticky notes that allow couples to fill in the blanks, like these:
- I love you more than _____________ .
- You’re the best at ______________ .
- You deserve the ______________ award.
- I love remembering the time we ________________ .
- I still love the way you ______________ .
3. Date Night
On Valentine’s Day, people buy flowers to the tune of $2 billion annually. What if you gave every married couple of your church a single rose attached to a date night?
Marriage is not about the big days—it’s about the everyday. But make no mistake about it, the special days matter. They serve to recalibrate, remember and reconnect married people. And that is worth celebrating!
Reaching People Outside of the Church
When I was creating MarriedLife Live events at North Point Church, I knew whatever we created had to be relevant to all audiences.
I thought we would primarily reach the core of our church, aka committed Christians. And if they invited a few non-Christians, then we were certain they would have a great experience.
After all, the environment was always welcoming, guy-friendly, fun and had one go and do that everyone could go and do. While we hoped those outside our church would attend, we didn’t have a clue so many would.
Almost immediately, we received emails from people who brought their neighbors, friends and family to MarriedLife Live events. One person wrote: “Thank you for creating such a great night to invite our neighbors. It was much easier to invite them to a marriage thing on Saturday night, than Sunday morning church.”
Creating Ministry Evangelists
I heard this same sort of thing over and over.
One of the pastors told me he almost invited his neighbor to MarriedLife Live. He changed his mind because this neighbor was too much of a man’s man. Another neighbor invited that man’s man. Not only did the neighbor attend, he became known in the neighborhood as the MarriedLife Live evangelist.
One night after the event, I talked to a pastor from a nearby church. He said, ”Every time you guys have an event, I bring a bus load of people. It’s the single greatest entry point into our church.”
Yes, this struck me as odd, but it added to the conclusion:
You Don’t Have to Love Jesus to Want Your Marriage to Work
All these non-Christians and non-church goers were showing up. Just like believers in Christ, when your marriage isn’t working, nothing is working. The attendees were teaching me that marriage is a great bridge from the world into the church.
Let’s be honest—the church needs some bridges. Those outside the church so often see Christians and churches as judgmental and different than real people. If we can get them to the church, and ultimately to Jesus, by pouring into their marriages, then pour away.
How To Create Events That Attract People
While these one-night events are great for believers and non-Christians alike, they are often cost and labor intensive.
That’s why every year, as a part of our Strategy Pack, we at MarriedPeople, the marriage division of Orange, create four new larger group experiences that are plug and play. Why? Because we know that one of the greatest ways to get non-Christians in your church is to pour into their marriages. There has to be an entry point that is a safe way to start that process.
Nothing is better at that, than one-night events. Go ahead and try it. If you do the first event right, chances are you just might reach a family you would not have reached otherwise.
When we at MarriedPeople, the marriage division of Orange, share about the MarriedPeople strategy, we talk about three different environments:
- Large Group Experiences
- Small Groups Experiences
- Experiences for Individual Couples
Larger Group Experiences Take Work
We get no push-backs on #2 and #3, but Larger Group Experiences seem to push negative buttons for some leaders. I totally understand why—Large Group Experiences can be time and labor intensive.
However, I know that Large Group Experiences produces a dynamic that make the time and effort worth it, especially if they are intentionally designed.
Whether your Larger Group Experiences for married couples happen as one-night events (1-2 hour program), weekend retreats or Sunday services, here are seven reasons we think make Larger Group Experiences worth it.
What Makes Larger Group Experiences Worth It
- Help to elevate marriage
- Help normalize struggle and hope
- Provide an opportunity to promote laughter and fun
- Make it easier to be man-friendly
- Create a platform for a relevant message
- Give you opportunities to suggest next steps
- Are great for outreach
The Impact Larger Group Experiences Have
At a marriage event at our church, the speaker encouraged couples to take divorce off the table as an option. A month after an event, a woman emailed us explaining she was in her second marriage. Until recently, she had decided not to change her last name just in case something happened.
She had also threatened her husband with divorce whenever they had a serious argument. To prove to her husband she was taking divorce off the table, she had her name legally changed, taking his last name. Do you think that meant something to her husband? Without question.
How We Can Help
We know you are busy, so we have created resources to help you create Larger Group Experiences. Because we are very passionate that Larger Group Experiences are really worth it! Need help creating Larger Group Experiences? Click the link!
So youre planning something awesome for the couples in your church. You wanted to do something that will make a great memory, seriously invest into marriages and get wide-eyed husbands off the proverbial hook. Now you’re days away from making it happen.
It can feel intimidating to pull off your first big one-night event. So here are a couple of tips to host a big night of amazing.
Yes, You Can
You can do this. Stop the self-doubt.
Everything you need is in the Married People Strategy Pack for you. From the step-by-step flow, games, slides, videos and the main talking points for an engaging evening.
Don’t have anyone to do the talk? Just found out your communicator has the flu? You’re covered here too. The video file with the main teaching is included.
Make It Fun
Talking about marriage shouldn’t be boring. It needs to be fun.
Everything about a Married People one-night event screams: “I love laughing with you!” They are meant to remind couples how enjoyable married life can be.
Make It Personal
Don’t forget the camera! Be sure to take pictures of each couple.
Set up a fun photo booth or backdrop, then either email them to each couple to remind them what a great night it was. Or even better, have a printer on site to print them out right then and there to send home with them!
Chill on the Decorations
One of the best things about a Married People one-night event is that they are designed to be man and woman friendly. No lace, no flowers and no touchy feely allowed.
Traditionally, guys don’t like to go to marriage conferences because they are too uncomfortable. Throw out some Nerf footballs, a board game or two, some playing cards (maybe just the hearts) or power tools for center piecesyou are good to go!
What about the ladies? Show me the husband who wants to go back to a marriage gathering and I’ll show you a wife that loved it twice as much.
Every one-night event has everything you need in step-by-step directions to put the amazing back into the marriages at your church. The couples at your church will thank you for it.