We recently sat down with a young couple from our church. The military moved them to our area, so they didn’t have a family support system here locally.
Within the first minutes of our meeting, the wife was crying. The stress of the move had taken its toll on this young family. The husband’s long hours and pressing new responsibilities increased the tension at home. They both needed the marriage to be a source of strength and encouragement during this difficult time, but the foundation of their relationship was crumbling.
The husband and wife were dealing with the stress in their own ways. They weren’t communicating or supporting each other. They were drifting further apart instead of facing their struggles side-by-side. They desperately wanted to make the marriage work, but they weren’t sure where or how to begin.
We prayed with them and reminded them that with Christ as their foundation, they could weather any storm. We told them that they didn’t need to face their challenges alone because God calls us to carry each other’s burdens and to find healing and support within Biblical community. We gave them some resources to help them start renewing their relationship and connected them with a small group where they could find friendship, mentorship and practical support to help them through this challenging season. We recommended a good Christian counselor who could provide ongoing support and guidance and over time, they experienced healing and transformation in their marriage.
Each week countless couples just like this one, walk into our churches. Many of them appear to have everything together, but often there’s a hidden reality. So many marriages are hurting and our churches need to be a place where broken relationships can be healed and strong marriages can grow even stronger.
Through our years in ministry, we’ve had thousands of interactions with married couples from all over the world. Many of these conversations happen in our church, but the majority have taken place online with people, desperate for help, who feel they have nowhere else to turn.
Through these conversations we’ve learned that all married couples need encouragement and practical tools to help them. We’ve also observed that most married couples don’t know where to go to get the help they need. Most importantly, we’ve realized that churches hold the essential key to solving the modern marriage crisis. But sadly, most of them don’t even know where to start.
Creating and cultivating a church that champions healthy marriages is one of the most practical investments of time and resources a church can make. Here are some reasons why churches need to do more to build strong marriages:
1. Marriage, by God’s design, is the foundation of the family.
Building stronger marriages will lead to stronger families. Stronger families create stronger churches, which lead to stronger communities, and ultimately, a better world. Marriage is uniquely and sacredly designed to display God’s kingdom on earth. When marriages improve, nearly everything else improves as a result. When marriages are hurting, society suffers as a result.
2. Marriage Ministry is an effective evangelistic outreach.
We’ve found that many unchurched couples are willing to attend a service if the church can provide practical help for their marriage. When we’ve done sermon series or conferences around marriage, the result is always a boost in attendance and many first-time guests.
3. If people don’t get answers about marriage from the church, they’ll get answers from the culture (which is why so many marriages are failing).
It’s our sacred responsibility as followers of Christ and ministers of the gospel to lift up the value of a Christ-centered marriage. We must teach our congregations how to make their marriages all God wants them to be.
The need for stronger marriages in our society is apparent and it’s clear that the church could be doing more to help. But most churches simply don’t know how go about it. The good news is that doing more to build stronger marriages within your church is simpler than you might think and you can get started right away!
Continue reading Part 2 of this blog where we’ll share some practical next steps towards building stronger marriages in your church.
Dave and Ashley Willis have built a strong following, reaching millions of married couples through their blogs, books, and videos. Get Dave and Ashley’s most popular resources for couples and groups. Their mission is to create resources focused on building Christ-centered marriages and families. They have four young sons and live near Augusta, Georgia.