We talk a lot about the importance of marriage, how it should be the second priority in your life only right behind God. I believe that marriage is the hub. The central support for the family. If the marriage isn’t working the family will suffer. But that is only the first ring off the hub. If the marriage isn’t working the community, the workplace, the local church, yes even the government does not work effectively. They are spinning their wheels with a broken hub.
I know that many of you are out there are nodding your head. I don’t think that first paragraph is anything radical, or a sentiment that hasn’t been shared a thousand times before. But that got me thinking. What is the church, the local church doing to support marriages?
This question led me on an interesting search lately. I went through the list of the Top Churches to Watch in America looking to see what they were doing to support the marriages in their congregations. This list included churches we have all heard about, Willow Creek, Saddleback, Mars Hill and more. My search was not scientific, I simply looked on their website for two things
1- Do they have “marriage” listed as an area of ministry on their website. If they do what events activities and resources do they promote?
2- Do they have a staff person with the title of “marriage pastor” or “married life pastor”. The thought being in these larger churches with multiple staff members, if marriage was a true priority surely they would have a pastor dedicated to the area.
What did I find?
Of the more than 30 church websites I visited less than one-quarter even had a marriage ministry listed, and that includes the church that had “check out marriage ministry opportunities listed below” followed nothing listed under the heading . The typical list of ministries I found went like this:
- Children’s Ministry
- Youth Ministry
- Women’s Ministry
- Men’s Ministry
- Worship Ministry
- Followed by a random assortment of other ministries (missions, singles, counseling…)
1. When there is a segment of the church who’s needs stand out, we reach out to them. This is the reason for the single’s ministries, divorce ministries, and even the youth ministries. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are excellent and important! I think that when a majority of the congregation falls into a category it is seen as the lead pastor’s job to meet that need. Most church attendees are married, so by default the whole of church is a ministry to married couples, isn’t that enough? I would challenge, no!
What should marriage ministry look like?
Traditionally, marriage ministry has meant an annual marriage enrichment retreat, and a marriage workshop or special Sunday School class once in a while. Often churches bring in outside speakers to help run these events. When you get right down to it I think most churches wonder, “what would a marriage pastor do?”
This great question is the subject of my next post, “The Marriage Pastor”
- Do you know a church who has a thriving marriage ministry?
- What do you think a marriage pastor’s job description should include?
Let us know in the comments and let’s see if we can help some of these influential churches focus their energies on the hub, on growing, supporting, and encouraging marriages!