Help Keeping the Knot Tied I Marriage Ministry First Steps Pre-Marital Knots for Engaged Couples by Rev. Brian and Maria Dixon Lakeland Baptist Association Kingdom Growth Conference – Parklawn Assembly of God Church May 12, 2010
In Wisconsin, the number of marriages that occurred between January to August of 2009 were 26,607 and the number of divorces that occurred in the same time period was 1,193. As such, state wide divorces affected 16,490 children under the age of 18.
Source: National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 58, No. 18, May 10, 2010
In Milwaukee County, there were 4,252 marriages in 2009 and 2,436 divorces in the same time period. We had a 57% divorce rate, where as the national average is around 50%.
Source: Wisconsin Marriages and Divorces, 2009 – WI Bureau of Health Statistics
Marriage and parenting programs: 3% of Black churches
18% of other churches
Source: National Congregations Study
Religious Effects on Black Married Mothers in Urban America
Compared to African American mothers who attend church infrequently: * Churchgoing African American women are 73%more likely to be married at the birth of their child. * Churchgoing African American married mothers are 31% more likely to report that they have excellent relationships with their husbands compared to African American unmarried mother who attend church infrequently. * Churchgoing African American unmarried mothers are 148 times more likely to marry after the non-marital birth. * Churchgoing African American unmarried mothers are 62% more likely to rate their relationships with the fathers of their children as very good/excellent.
Step #1: Establish a Marriage Ministry Team (MMT)
A ministry is only as good as the people who run it. Before getting too far down the road , spend time
recruiting couples who can manage the ministry details and demands, and ensure the long-term success of
the Marriage Ministry.
Find the right people first.
Get enough people to make it go.
Focus on the marriages that matter most.
Figure out what everyone can do.
Step #2: Determine Marriage Ministry Objectives and Goals
Set up the MMT for success. Present the scope, scale, and purpose of the Marriage Ministry. Without clear objectives and goals, enthusiasm and motivation can quickly turn into discouragement and burnout. Here’s how to keep your MMT focused and motivated:
Decide who the MMT is reaching out to.
Alleviate confusion before it can happen.
Pay special attention to the calendar.
Keep expectations in check.
Step #3: Diagnose the Needs the Marriage Ministry Will Meet
It is common knowledge that all couples need regular marriage enrichment. All marriages go through different seasons, and most couples experience similar relationship challenges. Assessing the specific needs of couples in your congregation and community ahead of time will result in better planning, focused implementation and more successful results.
Ask couples what they want and need.
Pick how much the MMT will be doing.
Choose a curriculum that meets your needs.
Step #4: Plan the Marriage Ministry Work and Work the Marriage Ministry Plan
Sometimes ministry results fall short of expectations. After the fact, the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” second guessing begins and momentum and excitement fade quickly. Many of the hindsight insights could have been addressed ahead of time with thoughtful consideration and constructing a detailed plan.
Get leaders trained as soon as possible.
Lock in dates, times and locations.
Figure out the registration process.
Keep the end in mind.
Revitalize the relationships of those who give the most.
Step #5: Spread the Word about the Marriage Ministry
So, you’ve got a MMT, a strategic plan and a Marriage Ministry event or class. While some subscribe to the “if we build it they will come” theory, reality shows that no one will show up unless they’ve heard about it. Marketing the Marriage Ministry, and more importantly, the Marriage Education classes and programs, are essential to ensure marriages improve.
But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. [Luke 14:28-29 (NLT)]
My bride, my very own, you have stolen my heart! With one glance from your eyes and the glow of your necklace, you have stolen my heart. Your love is sweeter than wine; the smell of your perfume is more fragrant than spices. Your lips are a honeycomb; milk and honey flow from your tongue. Your dress has the aroma of cedar trees from Lebanon. My bride, my very own, you are a garden, a fountain closed off to all others. [Song of Solomon 4:9-12 (NIV)]
Think about what love means to you. Then write a love letter to your beloved, answering the questions: Why do I want to marry you? What makes you special? What are my hopes and dreams for our future together? Be Creative. Borrow lines from some of your favorite love songs and poems.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. [Genesis 2:24 (NIV)]
The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. . . I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. [Ezekiel 18:20, 30-31 (NIV)]