We have amazing MarriedPeople partner churches. These marriage champions are taking the MarriedPeople resources and doing things that are above and beyond anything we dreamed about.

We want you to meet them. So once a month, we’ll spotlight a different church that is impacting not only the marriages in their church, but in their community. We want you to meet people from churches of all sizes, large and small, in various types of communities, whether urban, rural or suburban, with budgets big and small and volunteers plenty or scarce. Regardless of how different these churches may be from yours, we think you’ll find some relevancy to where you are.

We gave them a list of questions to find out more about their church, their team and their ministry. This month, we would like to introduce you to Josh Fortney at Pathway Church in Burleson, Texas.

Church: Pathway Church (Burleson, TX)
MarriedPeople champion: Josh Fortney

Size of your church: 1200

Approximate number of married couples: 450

Describe the area you are in: suburban

Tell Us About . . . You and Your Team

I am full-time on staff. I am the Pastor of Marriage, Family and Student Ministries (NextGen Pastor, in a nutshell).

How did you get involved in marriage ministry? I felt convicted at Orange Conference one year and responded to God’s calling to move forward. I came back on fire for God to do a big thing in marriages, and our church was very receptive to us being preventative, rather than responsive, in our marriage ministry.

How many people are on your marriage ministry team? 14 (7 couples)

How did you recruit your team? My wife and I were on the look out for people who were passionate about marriage and for people who were actively living a healthy marriage. We were also hoping to gather couples from a variety of life stages.

Tell Us About . . . How You Use the MarriedPeople Resources and Strategy

What resources do you use from MarriedPeople? Strategy Pack—
Larger Group events, Small Group study, Date Nights, monthly emails

What does the calendar year look like with your marriage strategy? (How many one-night events do you do? Date Nights? Small groups? Do you send E-ZINEs out every month?) We prepare date night kits for off-site date nights, 3-4 times a year. We strategically plan these around busier seasons (Christmas, Valentines Day, End of School, and Back to School). We also challenge our couples with specific intentional dates to go on through our Summer Date Night Challenge. This is becoming a staple in our MarriedPeople outreach as it makes a big deal out of dating your spouse.

We also strive to have one to two large group events a year. These come as a breath of fresh air in a busy calendar. Our small group ministry launches once per semester. This gives us a couple strategic times to implement small groups for marriages. We have done the E-Zine monthly until February-March of 2016. We went weekly on a newsletter challenging couples to reset on their marriage through grace and forgiveness. We will begin monthly E-Zines again in June 2016.

What are some of the unique challenges to planning events in your community, and how have you worked around them? Texas=Football, Friday night lights are August-December. That makes it hard to plan an event in the fall. We are praying for people to take a week off from high school football to be their best US. We have many families who are devoted to sports and school activities. We are battling the “kid-centered home.”

We also have a Saturday evening worship service at our church. That means we’re limited on our facility usage. We have been creative by making meals for couples to grab after worship and head out on a date. We also try to meet people where they’re at in their busy schedules by giving them things they can do as a couple while they’re at kids games, practices, traveling to and from events and even while they’re apart.

We are continually praying for married people to step up and prioritize their marriage. We know God will repair, restore, and invigorate marriages through His church. MarriedPeople gives us a strategic way to reach couples.

Share with us one way you took the MarriedPeople resources and customized them to fit your church. We try to make the date nights our own. One of the small things that made a huge impact was adding a hashtag that is specific to our church. We have seen, as well as others in our community, the #pathwaydate hashtag pop up often. It creates a buzz and gets people excited about dating. We took small activities from each date and put them on a punchcard for couples to complete last summer. They had to go on dates, complete the activities, and post on social media in order for their date to count for the competition. The winning couple got a weekend at a Bed N Breakfast, 2nd place got dinner at a fancy restaurant, and 3rd place got an at home date kit. It was a great blend of the date nights and a fun way to challenge people in the summer time.

What has been your biggest fail and what did you learn from it? Valentines Day 🙁 We got people to pre-order food, but we didn’t get them to prepay. So we had a number of meals we expected selling and ended up selling only a fraction. It was a fail on me, but lesson learned!

What’s your dream to happen next? We want to build our large group event to be a staple in the calendars of couples. We hope to bring in the date night comedy tour, but we need to build momentum in order to do that. We would also love to see a large number of married small groups develop from this US series.

Thanks, Josh, and the awesome team impacting marriages in Burleson, TX! 

For more about Pathway Church, check out their website. 

To connect with other MarriedPeople leaders, request to join the MarriedPeople Leaders Facebook group.

Tim Walker is an editor on the MarriedPeople team, and blogger at timswords.com.

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