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10 Questions To Ask Yourself After Your Marriage Events

10 Questions To Ask Yourself After Your Marriage Events

Marriage sermon series, events, and retreats and can be important and impactful on many levels. But after these larger environments, many married couples leave asking “Now what?” And often, we don’t plan for or don’t have an answer to that question.

  • For couples in crisis, event knock down barriers and walls. But if couples don’t have help dealing with the relational rubble, we can create more chaos than connection.
  • For couples living like roommates, events give hope of something more. But if couples don’t know how to start the journey of more, that hope quickly fades.
  • For couples who are good wanting to be great, events paint of picture extraordinary. But if we don’t give them a roadmap of how to get there, good enough remains just good enough.
  • For couples wanting to be involved in your marriage ministry, events inspire them to be a part of your team! But if we don’t have a place for them to help, they can’t.

As we prepare for marriage events and retreats, deciding who and what will follow the event is one of the most important parts of our preparation. So let’s get practical on how to do that.

Preparing For Event Next Steps

While only your team can ultimately determine what is best, here are a couple of questions that may be helpful in the process.

  1. What’s the one practical thing every married couple could do to immediately apply the content they heard at the event?
  2. Do we have the right amount of content? Or are we overwhelming couples?
  3. Is the content or application we’re sharing helpful?
  4. When is our next marriage event?
  5. Do we offer a small group or Sunday school class focused on marriage content?
  6. Can we provide date nights for couples to do on their own?
  7. Are there digital tools to help couples when they’re not in church?
  8. Programmatically, how do we plan to communicate these next steps?
  9. How are we using social media to inform and celebrate marriages at our church?
  10. Where can couples learn more about our marriage ministry?

Making This Easy For Couples

When I speak at marriage events, I love being able to tell couples that the event isn’t the only thing that church is doing for marriage. Marriage events are so much more effective when they’re part of something larger for marriages.

Practical next steps help to keep from overwhelming couples at an event. They give busy couples a way to apply the information and inspiration they got at the event. And these next steps answer the question most couples will be asking: “Now what?”

Next steps are a huge part of the Married People strategy we provide to churches. It’s important to give different steps for different couples in different contexts. This could be joining a small group, going on a date night, or joining the Married People Membership.

Most couples don’t have a plan, God does. And the church has the responsibility and privilege of hitching the hitched to God’s people and plan for their marriage.

The Most Important Thing Your Church Can Do All Year

The Most Important Thing Your Church Can Do All Year

For several years, Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs has offered regular “respite” events for families of children with special needs. Katie Garvert has led this ministry with the mindset that special needs ministry is a part of a holistic family ministry.

As the special needs ministry grew, the church added the respite piece of programming. The purpose of the respite was not only to provide parents a break, but to provide spouses the opportunity to reconnect through time together alone.

Encouraging Couples to Date

About a year ago, Katie noticed that mothers who once showed up at respite check-in with their husbands were arriving without them. Instead of enjoying a date night, parents were doing their own thing, like running errands, while their children were in the church’s care.

As a mother herself, Katie recognized the value of a peaceful shopping trip, but was concerned parents weren’t taking the opportunity to refuel their marriage. Even some of those couples who did go on a date night were returning to pick up their kids more sad or tense than before.

Fresh off these observations, Katie felt burdened to work more proactively to help the marriage inside the family with special needs. Katie wanted to give these parents something that would keep them focused on each other—a tool that would facilitate constructive and encouraging conversation.

To that end, Woodmen Valley Chapel started using the Married People Date Nights.

Married People Date Nights

As parents dropped off their children, they received a 8.5 x 11 printed document with step-by-step date instructions. They were told to spend the evening following the instructions together.

Katie said the response was amazing. Couples were refreshed. Their enthusiasm rejuvenated the church’s approach to helping marriages. Parents were going on dates instead of just running independent errands. Spouses were arriving at pick-up obviously happy and refreshed.

Katie said, “We realized these parents had forgotten how to connect. They were too tired and overwhelmed to plan a date for themselves. They didn’t even know what to talk about aside from managing life details, usually related to the complex needs of their children. Many of these spouses had forgotten how to laugh.

Among many things, these date nights gave our couples fun conversation starters. For the first time, husbands and wives were focused on each other. We saw this in their eyes and attitude when they arrived to pick up their children. I honestly had no idea that adding this simple tool would have such a huge impact on the families and on our entire ministry.”

A Resource For Every Couple

It stands to reason that parents of children with special needs may carry a heavier burden than most parents. However, all married couples know what it’s like to be too busy and overly stressed.

Every couple—both inside and outside of your church—could benefit from connecting in new and creative ways. All marriages benefit from making memories that will enhance their relationship. Going out on a great date is just one way to do that.

Not only that, but providing these dates is something every church leader can do, too.

Every year, church leaders like you have taken these date night resources and packaged them in fun and creative ways. You can see some examples of how on this blog post or in our private Facebook group. This is the easiest step you can take to start improving marriages at your church.

This post was adapted from the book, Married People, How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last, by Ted Lowe and Doug Fields.

The Statistic About Millennials Every Church Leader Should Know

The Statistic About Millennials Every Church Leader Should Know

What Millennials Want

I’ve been working with married couples through the local church since 2001. During that whole time, marriage statistics are everywhere. Many of these stats can be discouraging for those of us who greatly want marriages to win.

But recently, a friend and researcher shared a report from Pew Research about the millennial generation. According to that report, here are the top eight priorities for millennials:

  1. Being a good parent
  2. Having a successful marriage
  3. Helping others in need
  4. Owning a home
  5. Living a very religious life
  6. Having a high-paying career
  7. Having lots of free time
  8. Being famous

Millennials get such a bad rap about everything. I know previous generations have always bemoaned the current one, but millennials seem to have gotten some extra moaning.

Much of the team I work with are millennials, and I’m really big fan of this generation. Millennials not only make up the largest part of the U.S. population, they are changing the world they inherited.

Unlike the previous generation, they long for experiences instead of stuff. And what’s their biggest experience? Their family. They want to have a great family. They want to be great parents and have a great marriage.

What This Means For The Church

This is great news for church leaders. Because if we get really strategic about creating experiences for married couples, we can create a solid bridge for millennials to walk back into the church, or maybe walk in for the first time.

I’ve seen it happen all over the country—great marriage events and resources connecting people to the local church.

My wife, Nancie and I experienced this recently. We spoke and hosted a fun date night event at Mariners Church South County in San Juan Capistrano. This is in Orange County, Calif., where the divorce rate is a staggering 75%. This stat does not seem to discourage the Director of Marriage, Amanda Maguire. It actually seems to empower her.

Through her fun and strategic marketing, this event was filled with millennials. After the event, a young man approached me and said, “My wife and I are really struggling. We thought this would help. It did. We’ll be back here.”

At the end of the event, Amanda did an amazing job to ensure the group that the event wasn’t the only thing for marriages at their church. She told them it was part of an overall plan to pour into the marriages of Orange County. She gave them a reason to come back.

Bottom line: when a church leverages millennials’ love of experiences with their desire to have a great marriage, powerful things can happen.

And I’m not just talking about increasing millennials’ marital satisfaction. I’m talking about leveraging marriage to draw people to church, and ultimately Jesus—something no statistics can ever describe.

3 Reasons to Use Email to Impact Marriages In Your Church

3 Reasons to Use Email to Impact Marriages In Your Church

How does your church communicate with married couples? If you’re like most churches, you have the occasional small group study or sermon message on marriage. But the rest of your efforts are probably put towards responding to couples in crisis—trying to help couples at the brink of divorce.

But we have found that there is one simple but effective thing every church can do that impacts every couple. One of the best things your church can do to help married couples is send them regular, bite-sized tips and reminders through email.

While there is obviously more to marriage ministry than just email, it’s a great tool for all churches including those that are too busy or unsure what else to do. But why an email?

1. It’s Where People Are

Married couples are busy. Just like you, they’ve got too many things going on. They don’t need another book to read or seminar to attend. Plenty of couples love books and seminars—but those aren’t the couples that need help. The couples that need help won’t take initiative.

Where are these couples already spending most of their time? What place gets plenty of their daily attention? Their digital screens. This includes their email inbox. A mobile phone doesn’t have to be a distraction for a couple—it can be the way you sneak helpful tips into their marriage.

Thankfully, email is not restricted to certain ages or demographics. It’s simply the way that most people communicate these days. No matter what size your church is or where you’re located, email is a universal way to reach people—especially married people.

2. It’s Quick and Cheap

If you’re like other church leaders, you don’t have much time. If your church is like most churches, you’ve got a smaller budget. Thankfully, email offers a relatively speedy and very cost effective method to helping church couples.

One of the biggest benefits of email is that it’s instant. It’s not like print pieces that can take time to print, sort, and mail. It’s not like events that take weeks to organize. All you need is an hour or two per month to dedicate to schedule content and manage an email list.

There are plenty of email services out there, but MailChimp offers a 100% free service for email lists of less than 2,000. Even if you do pay, they offer a discountto nonprofits and churches. Email marketing may already be something your church already pays for.

3. It’s Trackable

One of the biggest challenges of any marriage ministry is telling whether or not it worked. Shifting from a proactive instead of a reactive strategy is much better. But it’s harder to track. It’s easier to tell how many divorces you’re preventing the closer the couples are to divorce.

Email platforms provide you with data that can begin to tell the story of marriages you’re impacting. You can measure the size of your email list and numbers of people opening and clicking on your emails. It gives you an idea of what works, and what doesn’t.

Next Steps

Email is the best place for your church to start impacting marriages, but it’s not the end. If your church is committed to marriage and think you can pull this off, here are some action steps to begin.

  • Create an account. If your church doesn’t already have one, sign up for an email platform. There are plenty of options out there, but MailChimp is always a good option.
  • Start collecting emails. Hopefully your church has a membership database that you can import into your new email platform. But you can also grow your list by asking people to sign up through your website or social media.
  • Find content to send. People are busy, so don’t clutter their inbox with meaningless messages. Send them stuff that provides value. Don’t know what that looks like? Then you really need to check out MarriedPeople Monthly.

What’s MarriedPeople Monthly?

Because email is such a powerful way to engage married couples, our friends at MarriedPeople have created a customizable email that your church can send to couples every month. It’s chock full of practical things couples can do together, including blog posts, fun videos, and discussion questions.

You get all of the content each month as well as instructions on how to implement and customize to your audience. We really think is a resource you and the couples of your church are going to love.

Reposted with permission. Read the original article here.

5 Steps to Stick to Your Marriage Ministry Goals

5 Steps to Stick to Your Marriage Ministry Goals

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.

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