Marriage: The Ministry Your Church May Be Neglecting
A church is made up of several different ministries working together to meet the needs of its community while discipling its people. These ministries most commonly include kids ministry, youth ministry, and some sort of adult discipleship initiative.
Including each of these ministries into the identity of your church creates a really well rounded church experience and will most likely meet some needs of each demographic within your church.
But have you taken the time to think if there are any key ministries your church may be missing?
The list of ministries a church could provide is nearly endless. One of the most important, unfortunately, often gets put on the backburner, and we think it’s about time it gets brought to the forefront of your congregation.
That ministry is marriage.
Marriage affects the foundation of every family within your church, and it is an area that seems to be increasingly devalued in today’s society. Marriage may seem like a simple concept to focus ministry on, but the effects of healthy marriages expand far and wide throughout your church. When you start talking more about marriage ministry within your church, you may be surprised just how many people are truly hungry to invest in their marriages.
Marriage in Society Today
It’s no surprise to anyone that marriages today look much different than they did fifty years ago. In many ways we have seen a lot of positive changes come to marriages over time. Today, we see less divide between the roles of men and women which have created greater partnerships within homes when it comes to managing a household and raising children.
More equal gender roles has also made it so women do not HAVE to be married to advance in society the way they would have 50 years ago. In a lot of ways, this equality has brought balance to a lot of marriages and open doors for women whether they are married or not..
Speaking of equality, it wasn’t until 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled that marriage “across racial lines” was legal in all states, which was a huge step forward for American citizens and the state of marriage in our country.
In the 1950’s, the average age for men and women to get married was 20 to 23. Today, that number has jumped up to 26 to 28 and continues to rise. An argument can be made that people are taking more time to ensure they have found “the one” before committing to marriage.
Less societal demand for marriage has led people to be more thoughtful when choosing to commit to marriage. Marriage used to be an absolute in everyone’s life, but today it is seen as optional. In many ways this has allowed couples to marry someone they are truly in love with.
Clearly changes within our society over the past 50 plus years has led to some positive changes in marriages over the years. Unfortunately, there are still many negative changes and challenges facing marriages today.
In 1978, 59% of people ages 18-34 were married; in 2018, 29% of people ages 18-34 were married. That’s a drastic decrease that continues to trend downward.
As mentioned above, changes in societal norms around marriage have led to decreased numbers of people committing to marriages. Over the past 50 years, the rise in cohabitation and sex outside of marriage has taken away the “need” to get married. On top of that, more and more couples are choosing to not have children which is one of the leading reasons many couples get married.
Overall, divorce rates have decreased since the 1980’s, but the rate of divorce is still 50%. With the rate of divorce known to be high, the sad truth is that some couples choose not to take the chance, knowing if they never get married they will never have to get a divorce.
When all these factors come into play, one could find themselves wondering what the future of marriages looks like in our country?
We can’t tell you what marriage will look like in 50 more years, but we do believe marriage is important to God and His Church, and we want to take a role in protecting it.
Marriage in The Bible
To understand the importance of marriage, let’s take a look at how marriage is portrayed in the bible.
Right off the bat in Genesis 2:18 the bible says “then the Lord said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’”
We know in this original context God is talking about creating Eve to be Adam’s wife. We see marriage introduced in the very first chapters of the Bible and the importance of this lifelong companionship.
Now, this verse and concept of companionship can be interpreted in ways beyond marriage. If you aren’t married, that certainly doesn’t mean you are alone or without companionship, but it stresses the importance of having close Godly relationships. However, we do see God’s heart for marriage from the very beginning through his creation of Adam and Eve.
Later on in Ephesians 5:25, we see one of the greatest representations of marriage in the bible. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
In this verse, we see Christ’s love for the Church and His people displayed through marriage. Christ is the groom and we, the Church, are his bride. Again, we see God’s heart for marriage through this comparison and an example of the kind of selfless love a Godly marriage should be built upon.
Is Marriage Prioritized in Your Church?
Maybe now it is time to reflect on how we can protect, encourage, and improve marriages within the Church. Whether you are a church leader or a church attender, there is a role you can play in prioritizing the ministry of marriage within your church.
What Prioritizing Marriage Can Lead To
It is astonishing to think of all the impacts a healthy marriage can have on someone’s life, these benefits even reach beyond the two people within the relationship and can bleed into family and friends around them.
For starters “statistics have shown that, on average, married couples have better physical health, more financial stability, and greater social mobility than unmarried people. Other studies show that the children of those couples are more likely to experience higher academic performance, emotional maturity, and financial stability than children who don’t have both parents in the home.”
Research has continued to show that happy marriages lead to healthier families. These benefits can lead to success in academics, the work place and even better mental, physical, and spiritual health.
A healthy marriage certainly is not an instant cure to any struggle life throws at you, but research has also found that “when it comes to fighting poverty, there is no better weapon than marriage. In fact, marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80%.”
With statistics continually showing us positive benefits surrounding healthy happy marriages, we should be doing everything we can to support and encourage these relationships.
How Can Your Church Prioritize Marriages?
We have seen the heart of God as He created marriage to be a sacred bond between husband and wife. We have also seen the countless benefits that come from healthy marriages. In today’s society, marriages are constantly being challenged and households are hurting due to hurting marriages.
As the Church, it is time to rise up and protect and encourage Marriages. The Church should be a light to help the marriages within them look the way God painted for us in the Bible. Let’s see what the Church can do to see the love of Christ represented in marriages across the world.
Hosting one-time marriage events can be a great launching point for a marriage ministry. A marriage event acts as an non-intimidating “date night” for couples that can be a catapult into healing and revelation within their marriage.
A marriage event can look multiple different ways, depending on your church’s resources and vision for an event like this, really the possibilities are endless, but the goal is simple. Give the couples within your church time to get away from the kids and the business of life and reflect on the foundation of their marriages.
A marriage event should give couples a space to have revelation about their marriage. It’s really just the beginning of the journey to a happier healthier marriage.
Marriage Groups or Studies
Launching a marriage study across your church is an excellent way to promote healthy marriages. It can be powerful for married couples to be in community together. It can be refreshing and freeing to know you’re not the only one who struggles with who will do the dishes or finding intentional time to spend together.
Whether the challenges that face a marriage are big or small, there are bound to be other couples facing similar challenges. Knowing you’re not alone can make challenges easier to talk about and confront. It can also be helpful to learn from other couples in how they navigate challenges or things they are doing really well to set their marriage up for success.
Does your church have an pre-marriage mentorship program or requirements? Even though couples are committing to forever with each other, there can still be a lot of unknown when stepping into a marriage. Some of this unknown is okay and part of the next level of getting to know each other through marriage.
For example, you may not know how your husband likes his laundry folded or that your wife will steal all the covers at night.
There are some bigger concepts, however, that really should be discussed before marriage. This is where pre marriage counseling could be really helpful. Marriage mentors are there to partner with engaged couples and facilitate conversation to help the soon to be newlyweds be set up for a successful marriage. Topics like faith, family, children, and finances are all things that should be discussed before marriage.
When getting ahead of some of these sometimes “touchy” subjects, couples can learn important communication skills from their marriage mentors and have a resource they can refer back to whenever they need.
Similar to pre-marriage counseling, this marriage mentorship can be available to help couples who are already married. This isn’t professional counseling but really just a program where you find couples who are passionate about marriage who can partner alongside other couples within your church.
Marriage mentorship could be utilized for couples who are generally facing many challenges in their marriage, couples who need help facilitating conversation about specific topics, or even couples who want to simply take their marriage from good to great.
We encourage you to use a marriage mentorship program to foster a culture of prevention and investing into marriages. Marriage mentorship does not mean there is something wrong with your marriage. Rather, it means you are invested in seeing your marriage thrive and be as healthy as it can possibly be!
We know that marriages are being challenged every day. The question is, what can the church do to help marriages thrive, especially today through the stresses of a pandemic? Knowing God’s heart for marriage, the church should be doing whatever it can to encourage and equip it’s congregation to have happy, healthy, Godly marriages!
Supporting Marriages Today
The next generation of Torrch is on its way. Whether you’re a church leader or attender, Torrch is a platform designed to connect local Christian communities and provide tools to manage small groups, ministries, and more. We want to do our part in protecting your marriage by helping you find your date night babysitter or even a professional marriage counselor, all through the new Torrch App!
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