by Ted Lowe
I talked to a leader of a parachurch organization who is very passionate about helping marriages. He wanted to do that through the local church. He had tried for years to help churches help marriages by providing them with resources.
He told me he was done trying.
He said he was going directly to couples with his resources, because church leaders dont care about helping married couples. Did I want to hit him? Yes, a little. Of course church leaders want to help marriages! They, perhaps more than anyone, see the impact of broken marriages.
But if I’m being honest, I understand, to a degree, why he feels the way he does. We talk to church leaders all the time who want to help couples, but don’t. Why? A million reasons, but the biggest reason can be summed in one word: busyness.
Church leaders have a ton on their plates and while they want to help married couples, they struggle with the constant reality that Sunday is coming and all the details and prep that requires. What you want to do can easily get pushed aside by what you have to do right now.
But when you get proactive vs. reactive with the marriages in your church, you move on from the land of ”That’s a great idea . . . for some day . . . when we have some margin.”
So if you find yourself in the category of wanting to help marriages but not having the time, here are a couple of easy wins any leader can do or better yet, hand off to a volunteer.
- Date Nights. Help couples date by giving them ready-made date nights. MarriedPeople has a lot of options you can choose from or check around online. We like ours best because they give couples step-by-step instructions instead of broad ideas, and can be done by any couple in any community at any economic level. If you can, provide childcare. Not having childcare is a date deal killer for a lot of couples. You can provide these dates in physical format (PDF) or online.
- Articles. Email couples links to your favorite blogs and other online resources. You can create your own email magazine or newsletter (also known as an E-ZINE), or check out MarriedPeople Monthly. We create a monthly email newsletter/magazine that gives couples go-and-dos they can actually go and do. You send the email to the married people at your church every month through an email management tool, like Constant Contact or MailChimp. We also have articles for couples on the MarriedPeople Couples blog.
- Partnering couples with couples. Every couple needs a couple down the road, one who has been married longer and has some more life experience. Pair couples with other down the road couples who are great listeners. Often times, these couples can provide just what a younger couple needs. Encourage them to simply grab a meal and get honest. As you find time, provide them with a few questions to get them started.
Many, if not most, married couples aren’t antagonistic towards each other, they are just disconnected. When you help couples laugh, think, talk to each other and others, it helps them re-connect or perhaps connect for the first time.
Trust yourself on what tools to provide and relationships to encourage. Your expert knowledge of busyness can help you know what couples can and will actually do.
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.
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