Is Marriage Important to the Church? – 2011 Countdown

We hope that all of you are having a blessed Christmas season!  In order to help us focus our time on our marriage and family we have decided to end the year with a recap of our top 10 favorite posts of 2011.  If you didn’t see them the first time around this will be a great way to catch up on some of our older posts!  Check back every day to find out which ones made our list!  And don’t worry we’ll be back first thing in 2012 with brand new One Flesh Marriage tips!

Brad says… (Originally published July 9, 2011)

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…)
Of the churches that did list marriage or couples as an area of ministry the most common resource promoted was premarital groups. (not exactly what I had in mind, important, but…) This was followed by marriage small groups. A few churches had planned retreats or conferences that were focused on marriage. Only two churches, appeared to have a very active marriage enrichment ministries, including some awesome date night ideas and other resources.

Leadership

Of the churches I visited I only found one who had a staff member with marriage in their title (Marriage and Counseling pastor). A few had family pastors, all of them had several youth and student pastors. Please don’t get me wrong these ministries and staff are essential, I only wonder where are the marriage pastors? If marriage is important to the church why don’t the largest of churches find it important to dedicated a pastor’s time to seeing marriages grow?

What’s missing?

We all know that marriage is important, no pastor would say differently, so why don’t more churches have thriving active marriage ministries? I wish I had an answer to this question, but I only have a few guesses.

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!

Check out all of our  2011 Countdown posts here… and check back tomorrow to find out which post made the #1 spot as our favorite post of 2011.

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One Response to Is Marriage Important to the Church? – 2011 Countdown

  1. Again… Thank you for the article. Most everyone of these hits home.

    As I write this this the wife and kids are off at church. I would normally be there but I am very upset and throwing a temper tantrum of sorts.

    I understand God comes first, but I am so angry that my marriage and me comes last! The Wife ALWAYS has time for church. 3 services for 6 hrs a week, always has time to volunteer at the kids school, 8 hrs a week. Always has time to work 32 hrs a week. But devotes zero time to her husband and marriage.

    I work 40 plus hours a week and pay 80% of all household expenses, still expected to do 50% of all household stuff, plus 100% of outside stuff. Mowing, Weed eating, taking the trash out, hanging Christmas stuff up.

    I am infuriated that she has time and energy for everything except her husband and marriage. It hurts deeply when you are treated as a money tree, maid and yard person and not as a husband.