What keeps many churches from having a marriage ministry? When I say marriage ministry, I don’t mean an annual retreat or having small groups read the newest, fattest marriage book. I’m talking about an ongoing ministry to couples, regardless of their stage of life. I have spent the last 12 years focusing on marriage ministry in the local church. Four of those years have been spent focusing solely on empowering the local church to have a marriage strategy.
The number one reason I hear from churches as to why they don’t have a marriage ministry isn’t a reason at all, it’s a fear. Many church leaders feel that if they really address marriage, which includes addressing it during the weekend worship service, that they are going to alienate or marginalize large portions of their audience, such as single parents. I fully get that! My Mom died when I was 10 and everyone at church spoke as if everyone had a mom. In fact, ,my dad never made me go to church on Mother’s Day for that reason.
In the same way, I NEVER, ever, want marriage ministry to make anyone feel left out, and especially judged. However, it’s very easy to have a full throttle marriage ministry without ever hurting those who aren’t married. It’s simple, but it’s absolutely essential: When you are focusing on marriage, you have to acknowledge and empower everyone. For example, your pastor on Sunday morning says: “Today, we are focusing on a marriage principle because marriage is important to everyone in the room. That, of course, includes those of you who are married, but it also includes those of you who want to be married, or remarried one day. It’s also important to all parents, whether your kids are 22 or 42. Because even if you are a single parent, you are the one who is responsible to empower your kids when it comes to marriage.”
Again, we simply need to acknowledge everyone in the room, and then give them applications and examples that make sense in their world. It’s that easy, but that essential.
What fears or roadblocks keep your church from focusing on marriage? How can they move past it?