My church began our marriage ministry in 2014 after being introduced to the Married People strategy at the Orange Conference. Since then, it has been an amazing ride. We’ve tried new things, failed at some things, and have continued to tweak things along the way. I believe this is how good ministries become great—by constantly evolving!
Perhaps your marriage events have hit a stale patch on road. You feel like the events look identical to the one before it. You’re ready to change things up and take these events to the next level.
Since we’ve gone through the same experience at my church, I wanted to share a few things we’ve learned along the way. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes and not hit as many potholes and detours along your marriage ministry journey.
Small changes can make a big impact
I’m not sure why we believe that to “innovate” and “evolve” we have to do a complete 180°. As if spending more time and money will automatically lead to better results. That’s simply not true.
Small changes or upgrades to your event can make a huge difference—if done intentionally and effectively. Here are a few examples that you can try for yourself:
- invite church members who own businesses to donate prizes
- bring in live music if you’ve been using recorded music
- have a local amateur comedian come in and do a 10-minute opening skit
- have dessert made and handed out by the children or youth of the church as a special gift
- make each centerpiece a unique prize that one couple at each table will win
Change up the games
We learned early on that games are one of the most critical pieces of these marriage events. Over time, we’ve allocated more resources and energy into quality games (and prizes!). And these efforts have paid off.
We found that playing a stage game and a table game is a must, because this accommodates the different personality types of people in attendance. “Minute to Win It” type games have been the most successful.
Thankfully, the games that come in the Married People events have all been very good. Put a little extra effort into personalizing the games and prizes at your event and you will reap the rewards. Couples want to have fun—so give them the fun!
Make it personal
Find a professional videographer and interview several of the couples attending the event ahead of time. Ask them to share a story in relation to your theme. For instance, for the “Have Serious Fun” segment ask them to share a story about a vacation they went on that was super fun.
Likewise, for “Practice Your Promise,” interview a couple in your church that’s been married over 50 years. Ask them what their secret is. Be sure to pick a lively couple for some great laughs!
Make these couples your special guests at the event dinner. After a while, couples will ask to be a part of your future videos. Remember to give them the video as a keepsake afterwards. And, if these are professional quality, you can use the videos to promote your ministry later.
It doesn’t always have to be what it’s always been
This was tough for my team. After a couple of years of successful marriage events, we felt comfortable in what we were doing. But, if we were to evolve, my team would need to feel safe trying new things and stepping away from what we’d always done.
It’s not always easy to implement change—especially in the church.
Last summer, we held a group wedding vow renewal ceremony instead of the traditional “Practice Your Promise” event. I officiated the ceremony in a robe. We decorated the event like a wedding reception. The couples dressed up and we had a professional photographer there to capture photos of each couple.
By far, this was one of the most popular events we’ve ever held. And, it took us stepping away from what we “always” did to make it happen.
Whatever you choose to start with, just start with one thing that changes for each event. Remember—small changes are good! Before you know it, your event will be a fun surprise for participants and something all couples enjoy attending. The anticipation and excitement of what you’ll do next will entice more couples to come check it out!
How do you plan on taking your next event to the next level?
Monica Humpal is the Director of Grow Ministries at Williamson’s Chapel UMC in Mooresville, NC, and has more than 20 years of experience serving in the ministry.