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Building a Marriage Ministry Beyond Yourself

Building a Marriage Ministry Beyond Yourself

I never wanted to be a pastor, but God has a way of working beyond my wants. Upon joining a church staff, I quickly realized that people hold church leaders on a pedestal. This may not be fair, but it’s the reality. In addition to that, church staff often function as wannabe superheroes solving the world’s problems.

This leads to church staffers leading from a place of self-reliance and doing ministry on their own. After all, church leaders step into dark places to bring the light of Jesus. Church staff get paid to tend to the needs of a church. And church staff have the flexibility to respond quickly to people’s needs.

When it comes to building a team, we often don’t want to burden someone else with the weighty duties associated with building a ministry. We think we can do it all ourselves.

4 Ways to Build Ministry Beyond You

I haven’t perfected building a team, nor have I seen ministry thrive beyond myself. But I’ve recently encountered a change that made all of this real for me.

Last year, I transitioned from my previous church to a new church and a new ministry. And I didn’t want to leave my existing ministry high and dry. I wanted to ensure I transitioned well. I wanted to do my best to equip them to continue succeeding even after I left.

And having a team in place is the only way that can happen with any degree of success.

Now that I’m back at square one with my new church, I’ve had a chance to evaluate what enabled success in my previous role. And I’m learning how to apply that success to building a new ministry.

Whether you’re brand new to your role or rethinking how to approach an existing task, these 4 R’s can be a big help in establishing a ministry beyond yourself.

1. Remove the Plank

It’s easy to be critical of something that discredits or disqualifies someone from participating in leadership of a team I’m on. And there’s certainly a time and place for that discernment. However, I too often discredit someone who’s exactly where I’ve been, or has a different weakness than mine.

When I remove the plank from my eye, I’m able to see clearly that differing strengths and weaknesses help strengthen a team. So before fully discrediting someone’s lack of experience or passion, ensure you’re doing so with a clear vision. If you’re being over critical, your team will never feel empowered and encouraged.

2. Recognize Success

After a couple years of being on staff as a youth pastor, I felt a strong conviction about starting a marriage ministry. The only hiccup I encountered through the process of launching Married People was the fact that I’d been married less than 30 months—the fact that I was still counting in months shows how new my marriage still was.

The blessing of still being a newlywed was the need to rely heavily on people who have experienced several phases of marriage. This meant I needed to learn what success in marriage looked like. Experience in marriage is helpful, but it’s not the only measure of a good marriage.

I knew I wasn’t a marriage expert. That allowed me to look for other marriage experts in areas where I was longing for growth. Recognizing success allowed me to be more attentive to the traits others had which would enhance my marriage and our team.

3. Rally the Troops

I knew that launching Married People would have a greater impact and credibility if I wasn’t the only one leading the charge. I needed to learn that my team couldn’t simply look and act like me either.

So I established a team of people who had been married for different lengths of time—from over 30 years to less than 10 years. Once met together, I quickly realized that I was no longer the superhero.  I was no longer the savior to the problem.

Creating a team enabled our ministry to start with more fervor and organization than I could do on my own. You’d think this is common sense, but I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone by asking them to serve. I didn’t want other people to feel like they had to do “my job.”

However, you’d be surprised how many people are eager to serve if you’d only ask.

4. Remind the Purpose

Marriage ministry can quickly turn into casual event planning or responsive marriage counseling.  Success in marriage ministry is much more than cool events or being a wise counsel.

The CORE 4 of Married People give us a premise for our ministry and a tremendous reminder of “the why” behind each event, each small group, each date night, and each planning meeting.

Your individual purpose and our collective purpose in any ministry is to bring glory to God. With any marriage effort, that best happens when we:

  1. Have serious fun
  2. Respect and love
  3. Love God first
  4. Practice your promise

Be sure to keep ministry vision as your focus. Remind your volunteers why you do what you do. This will help to ensure everyone in the ministry is aligned and motivated.

It’s Not All Up To You

Marriage isn’t about you. Ministry isn’t about you.

All of our efforts are made in vain if we don’t allow God to use whomever he calls however he wishes to work in big ways. So don’t do it alone! Build a marriage ministry that extends beyond yourself so that it can have a greater impact and survive when you eventually leave it.

How to Use the Momentum from Valentine’s Day

How to Use the Momentum from Valentine’s Day

Every year, I put a lot of time and energy into decorating our home for Christmas. Then December 26 rolls around. Christmas decor around the neighborhood quickly comes down and we move on with our lives.

Retail stores across the country have already replaced Christmas aisles with Valentines gifts, stuffed bears, and chocolates. There’s no time for a chocolate hangover from Christmas because Valentine’s chocolates are already out to help you keep your buzz.

Retail marketing experts know there will be an influx of people visiting their stores to return gifts. They ride the momentum of Christmas craziness to draw you into the rush of Valentine’s Day.

The church is close behind on following this trend. Most marriage ministries are wise to build up excitement about a marriage event for Valentine’s Day. The foolishness comes when we forget to plan for marriage ministry wins beyond Valentine’s.

So, in the midst of the crazy planning season for Valentine’s events, sermon series, and date nights. I want to give you suggestions on how to not miss out on opportunities beginning after February 14.

Celebrate

A wise man once said “sometimes it takes a party” and this is certainly true when it comes to gathering couples. Have a big Valentine’s celebration to get couples gathered around the idea of being intentional about their marriage. This gives you a critical mass to establish momentum.

Celebrations are vital to the process of having serious fun in your marriage. Celebrations are also the easiest way to gain a greater reach. Major holidays are easy times to have celebration because people budget their time, energy, and money to celebrate during these natural times of gathering.

Celebrations are the catalyst for momentum. Celebrations gather people to further point them into greater connections.

Connect

Celebrations naturally create connections because they put people together. When you get people together there are natural connections that could happen, but you can also be intentional about connecting people through the celebration.

Momentum grows faster when you’re intentional about facilitating connection.

Since Valentine’s season is primed for married couples to celebrate, we can facilitate the celebration and capitalize on the connection. The simple “in-the-moment” connections can be table discussion connections or a moment of grouping of people by demographic—marriage length, number of kids, etc.). Greater momentum happens by encouraging a connection beyond this specific celebration.

Connecting to an opportunity or practice beyond the specific event should bless marriages while also moving your marriage ministry forward. This could be giving them a take home discussion guide which ends with an invitation to a small group. Or this might look like connecting them with a monthly marriage email, like MarriedPeople monthly.

There are a variety of things to point them toward, but the goal is to give them a greater chance to connect with each other, connect with other couples, connect with your marriage ministry, and ultimately connect more deeply with Jesus.

Don’t waste another excellent opportunity to connect couples on all of these levels.

Continue

Momentum fizzles, but it can also be recreated. If we desire to see marriages continue to thrive, get saved, or recover, then we should continue to pursue an intentional plan to make those things happen through our churches.

Everything we do should point to this continual pursuit. This is a reflection of a healthy marriage, a reflection of our walk with Christ, and a reflection of a ministry that truly cares for the people. This turns into a continuum of having celebrations which lead to connections, which create opportunities for more celebrations.

Valentine’s Day isn’t the only time to reach couples, and that is too easily forgotten. While culture is setting the ball on the tee for marriage ministry to knock it out of the park, we need to ensure we don’t just rely on that one time of year. Marriage is worth our time and effort year round. Let’s approach this season with foresight for the seasons to come!

What’s your church’s plan to follow-up after Valentine’s Day?

Why Valentine’s Day is a Big Deal in Marriage Ministry

Why Valentine’s Day is a Big Deal in Marriage Ministry

The Super Bowl is a big deal. From half-time performances by music royalty to the most expensive advertising space on television, this football game has turned into a worldwide spectacle, and often the only sporting event some people watch all year.

The economic power of just one event is life changing for the city lucky enough to host it. The 2018 Super Bowl brought in over $370 million to the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Not to mention that it’s an unofficial national holiday in the US as grocery and restaurant sales increase across the country.

Valentine’s Day is a similar phenomenon that happens around the same time of year as the Super Bowl. And it’s a major opportunity for your marriage ministry to reach people.

Some Valentine’s Day Facts

Valentine’s Day happens the same day every year—February 14, in case you forgot. But somehow it still manages to sneak up on us time and time again.

Here are a few fun facts about this romantic holiday (from The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics) to get you prepared:

  • 55% of the US population will celebrate Valentine’s Day
  • 75% of 18-34 year olds will celebrate Valentine’s day
  • $12.1 billion of those dollars are spent on a significant other
  • 25-34 year olds average $202 per person on Valentine’s Day
  • 44% of 18-34 year olds want to experience something together for Valentine’s Day

This reveals that most Americans are ready to put their money where their mouth is on Valentine’s Day. Hallmark, chocolatiers, and florists know how to ride the wave to profits this time of year. They seek to provide the easy way out, and most husbands take the bait. What if the church could do them one-better?

How the Church Can Help

The size of Valentine’s Day reveals that people care about their relationships, especially their marriage. They’re willing to spend time and money on it, but they aren’t always sure what the right solutions are. Why can’t we meet couples’ needs through the church?

Marriage ministry events on or around Valentine’s Day are no-brainers. We can learn from retail and capitalize on the season, but we can provide a lasting impact flowers and chocolates cannot.

Providing experiences gives people what they want, and it takes the burden of creativity off the husbands plate. We know what wives are typically looking for in a Valentine’s gift and experience.  We also know a husband’s mental and emotional energy can often be depleted in the category of thoughtful experience planning.

So, let’s build experiences where the husband is drawn in and celebrated for his thoughtful approach to Valentine’s Day and the wife is intentionally celebrated and appreciated.

How You Can Help

So far, this is all a great premise, but it lacks practicality. How is your church supposed to pull off a Super-Bowl-sized event with a limited budget and staff? Enter: MarriedPeople.

MarriedPeople has developed Large Group Experiences that blend a husband’s wants and a wife’s wants. They’re full of laughter, sentiment, depth, levity, and memories that strengthen marriages.

It may be late in the game, but it’s not too late! Roll out the red carpet and give married people a chance to enjoy the love they have for each other. Plus, show these couples how much your church loves them.

Book a caterer or gather some people who like to cook. Steam the cloth tablecloths or go get a bunch of red plastic ones at the dollar store. Whatever your budget looks like, find a way for your church to host married couples for a Valentine’s Day they won’t forget.

What is your church planning this Valentine’s Day?

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