by Ted Lowe and Doug Fields
As you focus on marriage ministry, here’s an excerpt from our book, Married People: How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last.
For years, we’ve both experienced the joy and privilege of helping other church leaders. Some of this has taken place face to face; much of it has happened through gatherings at conferences. The point is, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback about what works and what doesn’t in marriage ministry. The good, bad, and ugly of feedback has become the fodder for what you’ve been reading. We’ve listened carefully to other leaders who have taken these principles and applied them to their unique church settings. We’ve heard from some who are experiencing tremendous success, and we’ve also heard from those who’ve gotten frustrated because they tried “it” and “it” doesn’t seem to work.
MAKING A MINISTRY TO MARRIED COUPLES WORK
What’s the difference between the leaders who take our material and run and those who, well, trip? While there are many factors that can’t adequately be described, there appears to be one primary difference between the leaders who soar and those who sink. Here it is:
Successful leaders focus on principles first, programs second.
Those who struggle seem to focus primarily on programs.
Never was this reality more evident than when we were part of the conference craze at both Saddleback and North Point. Many leaders came looking for the magic formula and assumed that they could copy one of the programs and it would just work in their unique setting. This quickly proved to be an exercise in frustration.
On the other hand, wise leaders would look beyond the programs and try to identify the transferrable principles. This allowed them the freedom to adjust (and sometimes radically adjust) the program to work in their church culture.
At a recent Orange Conference (where we teach the MarriedPeople Strategy every year), we got to experience the joy of hearing the adaptations many leaders have made to the MarriedPeople Strategy in order to fit their ministry context. Some churches offer their larger group experience on a Sunday morning instead of in the popular Saturday night format. Some churches are using our small group material in a Sunday school format rather than in a home setting.
Here’s the good news: we don’t care how you do it—we believe God loves variety and there’s no single right way to build a ministry to married couples. And, at the end of the day, we simply want to see marriages win, whether you use our ideas or not. So, please change, adapt, and recreate to make this work for the people that God has entrusted to your care. We hope you’ve already sensed our hearts throughout the book and we haven’t given the impression that there is only one way to do all of this. Bottom line: the MarriedPeople Strategy is flexible so you can make it work for you.
To learn about the MarriedPeople strategy, as well as the Core 4 Habits, visit www.MarriedPeople.org.