If I were to ask you if marriage ministry is important, what would you say? Most people who work with and near families quickly answer this question with a resounding, yes!
If I were to ask you if marriage ministry is urgent, what would you say? Answering this question is a bit trickier than the first, especially church leaders.
Church leaders know that marriage is important. But what is urgent is the fact that Sunday is always coming. Pre-school, children’s and youth ministries are always seen as urgent and important, because they are.
But marriage ministry has no Sunday. It has a “one day.” One day, we are going to make the time, get strategic at helping married couples. When we pause for a moment and reflect on how marriage impacts the life of a child—especially their faith—marriage ministry becomes urgent and important.
Why Marriage Ministry is Urgent
According to the Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, 60% of children who come from divorce will walk away from their faith. But we don’t need a scientific study to know marriage impacts kids.
We know it. We live it in our churches our communities, and our own families. But as church leaders, we keep this information to ourselves.
After all, we wouldn’t state the facts and stats on a Sunday morning because much of our audience would feel defeated, and visitors might not return. So we just don’t talk about it. But make no mistake about it, the kids we love, who we want to know Jesus, need to grow up with healthy marriages around them at home and at church.
With that passion in mind, let’s set some marriage ministry goals, if not for the married people, for the little people. Here’s five steps to get your marriage ministry in the important and urgent column and make some real progress in the new year.
1. Get your passionate people in the same room.
Start or restart or energize your marriage ministry by getting together people who are passionate about helping marriages.
I find that all too often, those passionate about marriage ministry feel isolated and understaffed. Volunteers and couples who have found hope in their marriage are sitting in your church every week.
Lure them to a meeting with snacks and the knowledge that they don’t have to have a perfect meeting.
2. Identify the top needs of the marriages in your church and community.
Be careful not just to focus on couples in crisis. The biggest needs of every church is to help couples from getting into crisis in the first place.
3. Determine what you need to create a holistic strategy.
The days of one-off retreats and one-time marriage studies need to behind those of us who are attempting to create a marriage strategy to reach the current and next generation. What environments, tools, and people will you need to make your marriage ministry last?
4. Dream with the end in mind.
Determine what you want your marriage ministry to look like five years from now. Yes, this will change and evolve over time, but as you lead your team you will need a north to travel towards.
5. Take the first steps toward what you want to create.
One idea is to take a step toward building one proactive piece for the many and one reactive piece for those in crisis.
The kids running through the halls and scuffing the walls of our churches need champions to fight for the marriages impacting their faith.
They don’t know it, but they do. You know, too. You can do it. And you’re not alone.
Ted Lowe is a speaker and the director of MarriedPeople, the marriage division at Orange. Ted is the author of two books—one for marriage ministry leaders (Married People: How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last) and one for married couples (Your Best US: Marriage Is Easier Than You Think). He served for almost 10 years as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children.
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