3 Ways to Create Community at Your Church Marriage Events

3 Ways to Create Community at Your Church Marriage Events

Dogs usually love groups. Dog parks, dog beaches, and pet-friendly restaurants were all created so that our dogs can get together with other dogs to be in community. Dogs are social animals.

On the other hand, cats tend to hate community. They seem to dislike people, other cats, dogs, and anyone in between. Cats are anti-social animals.

If you were to invite a dog to your next marriage event, they would instinctively introduce themselves to everyone and discuss the best chew toys and strategies for avoiding baths. And everyone would listen, because it’s a talking dog.

Although your marriage events won’t have any actual cats and dogs, you will likely have both social and anti-social people. And here are three lessons we can learn from dogs when building community with our large events.

1. Pull some chairs together

Community grows when it is void of rows. Placing people at tables is the best way to generate conversation. In addition, placing people together who share the same life stage will help to generate a lasting connection.

When tables are assigned and groups are deliberately organized, people will have less anxiety about where to sit. They can feel at ease with people who share the same life struggles, and generally feel comfortable and welcomed.

There will always be a token few who would rather grab an extra chair from a stack in the hallway and sit at the back of the room. Help them to participate also.

2. Find a common subject

Talking is easier when the subject is simple and engaging. Provide your groups with easy-to-answer questions that are void of provoking too much thought.

Creative questions can lead people into discussions that will prepare them for the discussion topic. Or can simply be a way to laugh, talk, and find common ground without having to deal with awkward silence.

Depending on the variety of the ages in the room, present questions that are appropriate for all audiences. Millennials don’t want to be thinking about how they will see themselves 20 years from now, and those with grey hair will have difficulty arriving at an answer to whether they would rather bungee jump or trapeze. (The answer is neither.)

3. Have fun

Games on stage or up in front are fun but create an environment where everyone else is watching couples on stage play, laugh, and win prizes but not enhance community.

Instead, create a multiple answer game where the couples at each table discuss the best answer to the question and pit their answer against other tables.

Another option for game play would be to have the individual couples compete against other couples in the room, or one where all of the individuals are competing against each other.

Providing couples an opportunity to work together and to have fun helps them to forget for a moment the struggles of career, kids, and car issues. Some couples haven’t had fun in years. Let this be a no-stress time for couples to re engage in fun.

What about the cats?

People who are reluctant to participate, (the cats in the room) can still enjoy their evening. Create a countdown clock so that they are aware of how much time they have to talk, when the game will end, or how the program for the evening will unfold. Eliminating the guesswork builds confidence and reduces anxiety.

Whether your event is filled with dogs or cats (or both), the success is more visible when you place them in circles, engage them with easy questions, and allow them to have some fun.

Although you don’t need to supply treats, both cats and dogs would appreciate something sweet or savory (as long as it’s made for human consumption).

What’s the Purpose of Marriage Ministry?

What’s the Purpose of Marriage Ministry?

At the pinnacle of scoring my first boyfriend, earning my driver’s permit, and obtaining a position as the varsity football team’s water girl, my parents told me that they were getting a divorce. Their timing was terrible.

Instead of planning my future as Mrs. Some Football Player, I was moving to another high school. I had to reestablish a new normal in a city 20 miles away that smelled like cows and had no Target.

Years later, I wonder if it would have been different had my parents been part of a marriage small group. What if they had connected with other married couples in a Bible study aimed at growing their understanding of what it means to have a Christ-centered marriage.

Perhaps their marriage could have survived. It couldn’t have hurt. I do know that.

Keeping couples married is paramount for a healthy home. And a marriage ministry has the privilege of providing a place for couples to invest in their marriage, so families are less likely to implode.

Cultivate Connection

Many couples spend time together, yet they barely talk. They see each other at home, share the same bed, and busy themselves with their kids’ activities. But they invest little effort into cultivating conversations with each other.

Because of this reality for many couples, the church can be the catalyst for couples who need a space to connect—such as a date night where they can have fun, remember why they fell in love, and eat a meal that someone else cooked.

Whether it is a comedy night, date nights with childcare provided, or marriage small groups, marriage ministry has a unique opportunity to provide the space for couples to connect and converse, away from laundry and Netflix.

Foster Faith Foundation

Most church leaders would agree that spiritual maturity is essential to a relationship with Jesus. While individuals have a personal responsibility to grow their faith, marriages benefit when couples are developing spiritually together.

When couples are spending time in God’s word, praying, attending church regularly, and learning about what it takes to have a godly marriage, the benefit is monumental. Marriages built on this foundation of faith are more likely to last.

Create Community

Transparency, authenticity, accountability, and lasting friendships are all created in community. Marriage ministry can build opportunities for couples to experience community. This can be done through life-stage specific small groups and Bible study classes. And by using round tables during events in order to encourage conversation and connection.

When couples are regularly placed in groups with other couples who are on the same journey, comfort begins to occur and a lasting bond is developed over time. This accountable and like-mindedness contributes to the health of marriages.

Guide Newlyweds

Since the rate of divorce is high among Baby Boomers, it’s likely that couples married less than 10 years have at least one set of parents who have divorced. Consequently, there are a host of couples today who have been left with flimsy impressions of marriage, along with uncharacteristic expectations.

Premarital counseling is not a new concept, but was not widely considered for those outside of a faith. Many marriages start off well intended, but ill prepared. A healthy marriage ministry uses seasoned couples, to mentor, encourage, and provide support for couples during those first few years of marriage. We can allow older couples to share their experiences and to be a tether for couples who are just stepping into marriage for the first time.

While marriage ministry can’t eliminate divorce, it does help to provide a place for couples to strengthen their faith, spend time together, and build a community. These are all important elements in helping these couples stay married.

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