If your church is like most, your children’s ministry rocks! Kids love coming to church and drag their parents along with them.
You might also have a great place for students to grow in their relationship with Christ. High school might be a tough place to stand strong in faith, but students know they can invite their friends to your church.
However, when it comes to marriage ministry, you don’t know what to do and where to start. You look at the calendar and realize Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Many couples are looking to you to help fix, save, and strengthen their marriage.
So what do you do when resources are tight and you haven’t done anything to support couples? Here are five different ideas you can execute last minute to reach couples. Pick one or two that won’t break the bank, but can still have a big impact.
1. Host a Couple’s Game Night
Reserve a room at church. Get all the round tables and chairs you can find. And ask everyone to bring their favorite board games. For a relatively low cost, you can get some snacks and coffee to create a fun environment where couples can get some time with other couples and away from kids.
We’ve done this with our newlyweds in the past and it’s been a big win! Most couples we know love playing games and meeting other couples. It’s not good for marriages to be alone, and game nights help couples grow their friendship with one another.
Cap off the night with a short talk about the importance of companionship and friendship with your spouse and with other couples.
2. Date Night Done Right
Some of my favorite resources that I recommend to other churches are the date nights from MarriedPeople. Couples often do a great job of pursuing each other before marriage, but then fall into ruts and routines after saying, “I do.”
The church can help couples remember what it’s like to pursue their spouse like they did in the beginning. We’ve done date nights in the past where we ask couples to reserve a sitter, drive by our church, pick up a date night bag, and go out on a date together.
The date bag included a few treats, some coupons for local restaurants, and a short date night guide to help them have an intentional date night. Provide them with a few questions they can ask each other on their date.
Leverage social media and challenge couples to post pictures of their date night. Give out prizes to the couples who have the most fun or are being the most intentional on their date.
3. Serve different “categories” of couples.
We break our marriage ministry up into four distinct buckets. At Watermark, we prepare engaged couples, establish newlyweds, and enrich and restore all marriages. What’s one step you can take to help each of these four “buckets” of couples?
Prepare engaged couples & establish newlyweds: While their needs are unique, you can bring your pre-married and newly married couples together for a Saturday morning seminar or a short class to help couples prepare for, and start their marriages well.
Get a few of your stronger, veteran couples together to do quick teaching on topics like money, spiritual intimacy, communication, and sex. Do a Q&A panel and allow younger couples to learn from more experienced couples.
Enrich all marriages: Depending on the structure of your church, do a marriage study in your small groups or Sunday School. Challenge all married couples in groups/classes to spend 4-6 weeks intentionally working on their marriages.
Restore hurting marriages: Like when Jesus said in Matthew 26:11 that the poor will always be among us, so will hurting marriages. Encourage couples who need help to check out the marriage ministry re|engage. You can find a list of churches across the country who offer re|engage through this website.
4. Provide a list of resources to help couples.
I like to think through resources for different needs and purposes. You can find a list of resources I put together here or come up with your own list to help couples. There’s so much out there, and a lot of it is not helpful. Look for resources that are biblical, authentic, and practical.
A simple, but effective way you can quickly help strengthen the relationships of the couples in your church is by providing helpful books, podcasts, and articles for them to go through together.
5. Prayer challenge.
Last, but certainly not least, is to encourage your couples to pray together and to grow spiritually as a couple. We do a 30-day prayer challenge a few years ago on the heels of a marriage conference we hosted and had hundreds of couples sign up to pray for each other for 30 days.
We put together a list of 30 texts that were short prayers or prayer prompts. For example:
- God, show me today one way to serve my spouse and please give me the courage to do what you show me.
- Today, I pray my spouse will find Psalm 16:11 joy through ___________ .
- God, please help me to be a better listener to my spouse. Please help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).
We then gathered up names, phone numbers, and email addresses for any interested couples. Every day the individual received the prayer or prayer prompt over email or text.
This prayer challenge proved to be a cheap, and effective way to help grow the marriages in our church. Sometimes the best ideas come at a very low financial cost and have a tremendous impact.
What Will You Do to Help the Marriages in Your Church?
Perhaps the most thing you can do to help couples in your church and community is to train and disciple them to pour into their own marriages. That way, they’re not dependent on the church to do everything for them.
In the same way, many parents try to outsource the discipleship of their children to the church, couples can expect the church to be the primary source of help for their marriage. While the church should be the best place for couples to go for encouragement, counsel, wisdom, and help, it shouldn’t be the only place.
The end goal for any event, class, or resource should not be stronger marriages but rather that couples would grow in their love for God and that they would become more like Jesus. In other words, the best way to grow healthy marriages is to grow healthy followers of Jesus Christ.
Whether you have months to plan or just a few weeks, you can make disciples through your marriage ministry.
Scott Kedersha is the director of marriage ministry at Watermark Community Church, where he has served on the marriage team for more than 12 years where they seek to prepare nearlyweds, establish newlyweds, and enrich and restore all marriages. His first book, Ready or Knot: 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage came out with Baker Books on February 2019. Scott lives in the Dallas area with his wife and four sons. Learn more at www.scottkedersha.com.
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