The theme for this year’s Orange Conference is It’s Personal— because it all changes when it’s someone you know. This is no more true for those people who work in marriage ministry. Especially because marriage is such a personal relationship.
So what makes marriage ministry personal for you? Who do you know that makes such a difference in the work you do? We recently asked that question on our private Facebook group (which you should join if you haven’t already). And here are some of the responses we got.
Why is Marriage Ministry Personal?
“When my husband and I learned so much in marriage counseling after working through tough issues, we looked at each other and said, “had we known these things 10 years ago things may have been different.” It was then that we realized the church has the means to help couples like us. So I started a marriage ministry.” —Monica Lane Humpal
“We too struggled and watched as the church had no idea what to do for us…as a result they did nothing, said nothing. It seemed to us that a struggling marriage was taboo. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Silence and isolation create a haven for the enemy’s success. Marriage ministry is a place to be real, to let the struggle be real and to find help to fight the good fight.” —Elaine McFarland
“Facing our own struggles in marriage was the spark that began the marriage ministry in our church 7 years ago. We attended a worldwide marriage encounter retreat because we noticed so many friends getting divorced. We didn’t want the same thing to happen to us. We learned that we too were broken but God had bigger plans for us. God uses us to glorify Him through the fire that continues to burn inside us for marriage.” —Marcy Renken
“Though we haven’t had major struggles, we have watched friends “suffer” through unhappy marriages and others end in divorce. Too many marriages are ending in divorce in the church. Mark Gungor and Ted Cunningham have taught us how to have a fun marriage. We desire that for all marriages!” —Denyse Fleming Anderson
“Seeing friends at church getting a divorced or close to it breaks my heart and compels me to keep going.” —Laura Thompson Wright
“The start to working in Marriage Ministry was personal, seeing the devastation of a my sister experiencing a struggling relationship without Christ that ended in divorce (she had only been married a year) spurred something in us to help prevent this happening in others. It was as if it happened to us. Then, God directed our paths to gradually do more and more with couples.” —Kim Kvamme
“Too many ” I never thought ______ and ______ would get divorced” moments.” —Melissa Brandt
The 2019 Orange Conference is fast approaching! The theme for this year is IT’S PERSONAL: It Matters More When It’s Someone You Know. Which is appropriate for both a marriage and a marriage ministry.
The Conference is being held at the Infinite Energy Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on May 1-3. As always, we’ll be hosting a number of marriage ministry breakouts. And we hope to see you at all of them!
Be sure to stop by the MarriedPeople booth to meet us and ask any questions you might have. And to pick up some free swag or snap a photo with the MarriedPeople team.
Pray Circles Around Marriages
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
11:00AM to 12:00PM
Build a Great Marriage Strategy
Thursday, May 2, 2019
10:45AM to 11:45AM
Room 18 at Cross Pointe Church
Ted Lowe & Dave Safstrom
Did you know Orange has a marriage ministry strategy? They do and it’s called MarriedPeople, and has been around since 2010. Whether you have been a MarriedPeople church partner for years, or just considering how to help the marriages of your church, this is the perfect breakout for you.
Reach Today’s Marriages?
Thursday May 2, 2019
1:15PM to 2:15PM
Room 18 at Cross Pointe Church
With technology, social media, blended families, and kids busier than ever…everything, our approach to marriage ministry has to be smart and strategic. Learn how to leverage today’s culture to make marriage ministry one of the greatest marketing tools of your church.
Hey, church leader: you’re busy, right? You’ve got a lot of things on your plate. You’ve got more responsibilities than you have time. You wear many different hats—that’s a metaphor, of course, although you may also like to actually wear hats, too.
Guess what? That’s a lot like married people. They’re also busy. They have full plates. They have too many responsibilities and wear too many metaphorical hats. So if you’re a church leader (even an unmarried one) you can related to the challenges of marriage.
So what’s the trick to having a successful marriage and a successful ministry? Being proactive.
The Importance of Proactivity
Juggling lots of responsibilities—either in marriage or in ministry—takes planning ahead. It takes having a proactive approach to issues, rather than just reacting as they happen. It takes creating a plan and sticking to that plan.
It takes being proactive.
We all know marriage is important. But we don’t always prioritize our marriage because we get busy and get distracted by other things.
The same thing is true for marriage ministry. Most churches know helping marriages is important. They just have too many other things going on to be proactive about helping out couples. So how can your church get proactive about helping married people be proactive?
Join the Webinar
That’s exactly the topic that we’re going to tackle in our latest quarterly leadership webinar—how your church can help couples be proactive in their marriage. We’ve got a new resource that we think will be a huge help in making that happen.
So join MarriedPeople founder Ted Lowe on Wednesday, March 13 from 2-3pm EST for an opportunity to learn and ask questions. Here are all of the details:
Topic: How to help couples be proactive in their marriage
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
It’s November. Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas is coming soon. But Valentine’s Day is only three months away. Which means you’ve still got time to plan something amazing for the married couples at your church.
Valentine’s Day is a big deal because it’s the one time every year that every couple is thinking about romance. It’s your opportunity to help marriages, and create momentum to sustain them through the rest of the year.
To help you pull this off, we’re hosting a free webinar on how to make this upcoming Valentine’s Day a memorable one at your church.
On Wednesday, November 15, 2018. Ted Lowe will be sharing some of what he’s learned after working in marriage ministry for over a decade.
Sound good? Want to join us for the webinar? Here’s how: