One Sunday, my pastor, Andy Stanley, gave an amazing message on giving called, An Ounce of Prevention.
He said there are two types of giving:
- Intervention giving is emotional and the results are measurable.
- Prevention giving is neither. But it is far superior.
He makes the point that intervention giving is important. In fact, our raises millions to immediately help charities in the Atlanta area every December. They also pledged 15,000 hours of volunteer service to help these charities. What an amazing example of intervention giving.
But then, in what I thought was an amazingly insightful and brave leadership move, he said, But prevention giving is far superior to intervention giving. He gave many examples of why this is true, but of course my favorite was his example of marriage ministry.
When a church has a preventive approach to marriage, the problem is that they never know what they have prevented, so they don’t have emotional stories to tell. When a church creates a tool or sets up a relationship to save a marriage, it often results in a measurable and sensational story; which is great. We will not know until heaven what good marriages were made great, what divorces were prevented, and everything in between. But there is no argument that preventing a couple from crisis is far superior to crisis intervention.
Many churches have an intervention approach to helping marriages. Why? I think the stories of divorce and pain have left many of them shell-shocked, fighting in triage mode. But we talk to church leaders every day who get that a prevention approach is far superior to an intervention approach. And while there may be very few church leaders paid to solely focus on marriage ministry, there are children, student, family and lay leaders who are coming out of the woodwork asking questions and giving answers for marriage that fall under the preventive category.
I think these questions and answers are leading to stories that aren’t as sensational, but they are far superior.
Perhaps a story of a stepfamily of five staying together instead of splitting once again.
Maybe a boy will have his dad at home until he goes to college instead of seeing him every other weekend.
Maybe a couple comes to Christ because a neighbor invited them to a marriage thing at church.
Maybe many marriages that would have been dull and lifeless are full of laughter and life.
Why? Because the church taught them how to connect.
As the new school year starts, what are some fresh, preventive, and strategic moves your church can make to create stories that may never be told?
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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