Reaching People Outside of the Church
When I was creating MarriedLife Live events at North Point Church, I knew whatever we created had to be relevant to all audiences.
I thought we would primarily reach the core of our church, aka committed Christians. And if they invited a few non-Christians, then we were certain they would have a great experience.
After all, the environment was always welcoming, guy-friendly, fun and had one go and doone takeaway item that everyone could go and do. While we hoped those outside our church would attend, we didn’t have a clue so many would.
Almost immediately, we received emails from people who brought their neighbors, friends and family to MarriedLife Live events. One person wrote: “Thank you for creating such a great night to invite our neighbors. It was much easier to invite them to a marriage thing on Saturday night, than Sunday morning church.”
Creating Ministry Evalgelists
I heard this same sort of thing over and over.
One of the pastors told me he almost invited his neighbor to MarriedLife Live. He changed his mind because this neighbor was too much of a man’s man. Another neighbor invited that man’s man. Not only did the neighbor attend, he became known in the neighborhood as the MarriedLife Live evangelist.
One night after the event, I talked to a pastor from a nearby church. He said, ”Every time you guys have an event, I bring a bus load of people. It’s the single greatest entry point into our church.”
Yes, this struck me as odd, but it added to the conclusion:
You Don’t Have to Love Jesus to Want Your Marriage to Work
All these non-Christians and non-church goers were showing up. Just like believers in Christ, when your marriage isn’t working, nothing is working. The attendees were teaching me that marriage is a great bridge from the world into the church.
Let’s be honest—the church needs some bridges. Those outside the church so often see Christians and churches as judgmental and different than real people.
If we can get them to the church, and ultimately to Jesus, by pouring into their marriages, then pour away.
How To Create Events That Attract People
While these one-night events are great for believers and non-Christians alike, they are often cost and labor intensive.
That’s why every year, as a part of our Strategy Pack, we create four new larger group experiences that are plug and play. Why? Because we know that one of the greatest ways to get non-Christians in your church is to pour into their marriages. There has to be an entry point that is a safe way to start that process.
Nothing is better at that, than one-night events. Go ahead and try it. If you do the first event right, chances are you just might reach a family you would not have reached otherwise.
When we at MarriedPeople share about the MarriedPeople strategy, we talk about three different environments:
- Large Group Experiences
- Small Groups Experiences
- Experiences for Individual Couples
Large Group Experiences Take Work
We get no push-backs on #2 and #3, but Larger Group Experiences seem to push negative buttons for some leaders. I totally understand why—Large Group Experiences can be time and labor intensive.
However, I know that Large Group Experiences produces a dynamic that make the time and effort worth it, especially if they are intentionally designed.
Whether your Larger Group Experiences for married couples happen as one-night events (1-2 hour program), weekend retreats or Sunday services, here are seven reasons we think make Larger Group Experiences worth it.
What Makes Large Group Experiences Worth It
- Help to elevate marriage
- Help normalize struggle and hope
- Provide an opportunity to promote laughter and fun
- Make it easier to be man-friendly
- Create a platform for a relevant message
- Give you opportunities to suggest next steps
- Are great for outreach
The Impact Large Group Experiences Have
At a marriage event at our church, the speaker encouraged couples to take divorce off the table as an option. A month after an event, a woman emailed us explaining she was in her second marriage. Until recently, she had decided not to change her last name just in case something happened.
She had also threatened her husband with divorce whenever they had a serious argument. To prove to her husband she was taking divorce off the table, she had her name legally changed. Do you think that meant something to her husband? Without question.
How We Can Help
We know you are busy, so we have created resources to help you create Larger Group Experiences. Because we are very passionate that Larger Group Experiences are really worth it! Need help creating Larger Group Experiences? Click the link!
So youre planning something awesome for the couples in your church. You wanted to do something that will make a great memory, seriously invest into marriages and get wide-eyed husbands off the proverbial hook. Now you’re days away from making it happen.
It can feel intimidating to pull off your first big one-night event. So here are a couple of tips to host a big night of amazing.
Yes, You Can
You can do this. Stop the self-doubt.
Everything you need is in the Married People Strategy Pack for you. From the step-by-step flow, games, slides, videos and the main talking points for an engaging evening.
Don’t have anyone to do the talk? Just found out your communicator has the flu? You’re covered here too. The video file with the main teaching is included.
Make It Fun
Talking about marriage shouldn’t be boring. It needs to be fun.
Everything about a Married People one-night event screams: “I love laughing with you!” They are meant to remind couples how enjoyable married life can be.
Make It Personal
Don’t forget the camera! Be sure to take pictures of each couple.
Set up a fun photo booth or backdrop, then either email them to each couple to remind them what a great night it was. Or even better, have a printer on site to print them out right then and there to send home with them!
Chill on the Decorations
One of the best things about a Married People one-night event is that they are designed to be man and woman friendly. No lace, no flowers and no touchy feely allowed.
Traditionally, guys don’t like to go to marriage conferences because they are too uncomfortable. Throw out some Nerf footballs, a board game or two, some playing cards (maybe just the hearts) or power tools for center piecesyou are good to go!
What about the ladies? Show me the husband who wants to go back to a marriage gathering and I’ll show you a wife that loved it twice as much.
Every one-night event has everything you need in step-by-step directions to put the amazing back into the marriages at your church. The couples at your church will thank you for it.
They sit in your services every week. They worship alongside you. They listen to your sermons. They serve Christ with hearts crushed by the weight of an empty cradle. They are infertile.
The heart of God is touched by infertility. Marriages affected by it are found throughout the Bible: Abraham and Sarah, Elkanah and Hannah, Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Marriages touched by infertility are also found throughout our churches. One out of every eight married couples struggles with unwanted childlessness. How do you minister to those who are hurting and sometimes overlooked?
Allow me to share some practical ways to help.
Be sensitive on hard days like Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. Pray for couples who desire to be parents.
If you give gifts to moms and dads, have a gift available to those struggling with infertility and loss. Perhaps a card sharing how you pray for them: strength on hard days; timely encouragement; healing for diseases that affect conception; healing for grief over losses; strength for marriage.
Understand their Grief
Many infertile couples experience miscarriage. Minister to married couples as if they were grieving a two-year-old. The death of a child at any age is a devastating loss.
Never say: You can always have another baby. Even if they are blessed with a home full of other children, they will always grieve this baby.
Host a Memorial
Host a memorial service honoring and remembering miscarried and stillborn babies to the married couples in your community.
Protect Their Hearts
Protect hearts that are already hurting. Don’t ask women who are infertileor who have miscarriedto host baby showers or help with Mothers’ Day events.
Create a Small Group
Launch a small group for couples who are walking through infertility.
Discuss tensions that can grow between husbands and wives and ways to communicate through the process. Discuss grief, doubts, and Gods faithfulness. And consider opening it up as a community-wide group.
Recognize the Cycle
Remember that infertile couples grieve anew every 28 days, when another cycle signals another failed attempt at conception.
As leaders, youre familiar with Philippians 4:13, yet ministry begins with verse 14: Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction, (NASB).
Certainly, God gives infertile couples strength to ride that 28-day roller coaster of expensive medications, doctors appointments, and anxiety, not knowing until the end of the ride if they will be released or confined for another 28 days.
Nevertheless, when you walk alongside couples struggling with infertility, when you make a difficult season a little less isolating, when you share their affliction, you have done well.
Beth Forbus, founder of Sarahs Laughter: Christian Support for Infertility & Child Loss, has written three books on infertility and loss, including an Infertility Bible study for groups. If you have questions about launching your own infertility ministry, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, including daily devotions, please visit www.sarahs-laughter.com.
When Tonya and I were engaged, we had a couples wedding shower. We opened toasters, potholders and a vase. I was grateful, but none of that really captured my attention. Then, we were handed a heavy box. My memories of Christmas always told me that the best dude-gifts were heavy!
We opened the box with great anticipation. It was a tool set! I’d never owned my own tools, so I was pretty amped up. Included in that tool set was a steel-shafted hammer.
Twenty-three years later we still use that hammer weekly. The toaster burned up. The potholders went out of style. But the hammer? It still works. It’s hard to break a hammer. What about that vase we got at the shower, you ask? Let’s just say one hammer plus one vase… you do the math.
As a church leader, staff member or volunteer leader, there are some essentials we can use to fill our pastoral tool boxes, tools that will last. The following are four great tools to keep handy when we talk with couples who are stuck or struggling.
Ask the simple question, “What brought you here?” Then sit back and listen.
2. Remind Them, It’s Not You It’s Me
Most marital issues are actually issues of the heart. James 4:1 reminds us that fights come because we many times we just want our own way. Point couples to Ephesians 5:33 and help them understand that our focus has to go off of what we want and on to what the other person needs.
3. Lead Them To Date Again
After helping a couple refocus, encourage them to rekindle their dating relationship. Have them alternate who plans the date.
When he plans, he sets up a date that would focus on her likes. And vice-versa. The spouse that is recipient of the date must not complain if the planner doesn’t get it quite right! It may take some trial-and-error, but trying is the key.
4. Offer Hope
They are there because they have lost hope of a great marriage. God wants the best for their marriage. Thats amazing hope!
Counseling can be intimidating sometimes. Remember that God has given you what you need to offer life and help. Let Him stretch you as you pour into couples.
You may find that sometimes the deeper you dig, the more youll realize this situation may take more experience or time than you currently have. If you begin to realize you need a tool that is not in your toolbox, seek help with a local licensed counselor who will dispense Gods Word along with psychological help.
Or seek an organization like Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. There is likely a counselor in your area or many of them provide Facetime or Skype counseling as well.
Kirk Stewart is the Discipleship Pastor at First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant, AR. Hes passionate about building spiritual depth in people, marriages and families and is a speaker and Biblical counselor. You can reach him on Twitter @kirklstewart.
In my position, I hear from men and women continually. In most relationships communication appears to be the biggest struggle. It’s a constant work in progress in my own marriage. The difficulty is in the way men and women communicate.
My counseling background and years of experience working with couples has given me insight into some of the barriers men and women face when communicating.
I realize not all men are alike and these are generalities. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you comment that these arent true for everyone I am with you!
The only way to know is to talk with the men with whom you are trying to communicate to see if these are true for them. My hope is that these tips may help some women better understand a man and improve communication.
1. We meant what we said. Often not what you heard.
That is true 99% of the time. (Statistically verifiable.) Men are usually more literal, and frankly simple-minded. Women may have multiple meanings with a statement. That’s less likely with men.
So, when a man says something, try to hear only what was said without attaching extra thoughts triggered by emotions. If in doubt, ask if his statement had a deeper meaning before making assumptions.
Most likely he meant only nothing more than what was said. (I cant tell you how many classic examples of marriage problems I’ve seen develop with just this one tip.)
2. We don’t often like to give details.
If we said where we were going, who we had a discussion with or what we had for lunch, thats usually enough for us. End of discussion. (At least in our minds.)
We may not like going into detail beyond those simple facts. I understand you may need and even deserve more information. That’s especially true when a man has given reason to disprove his trustworthiness.
In learning how to communicate, however, its important to know details may be out of his realm of comfort to provide. When its not a matter of trust, the less you pump for details the more likely he will be to share facts, and even occasionally, details.
For Cheryl and me, she has learned that if she gives me time, and especially if we are doing something together, like walking that Im more likely to share the details she wants without having to ask for them.
3. Our range of emotions is limited.
Most men don’t feel as deeply or multi-faceted as a woman feels about an issue. It’s not that we dont care. It’s just that we are wired differently.
Because of this, men tend to communicate more factually and less emotionally. If you ask us how we feel happy or sad may be as descriptive as we can get for you. That may be it.
I’ve heard so many wives who want to know their husbands deeper emotions. She may not understand that hes shared the depth as well as he knows how to share them.
4. When you tend to cry, we may tend to get angry.
I get criticized for this point sometimes, but its a difference in wiring. Please understand, there is never an excuse to misuse anger and abuse of any kind should not be tolerated. But anger in itself is not a sin. The Bible says in your anger do not sin, but it seems to assume we will have moments of anger.
The same things that may cause females emotions to produce tears, often cause a man to develop anger. A godly man learns to handle that anger responsibly, but it doesn’t eliminate the response.
When an issue riles a man emotionally, it helps if you understand his emotions may be normal and you may even be able to help him channel his response to that emotion. Cheryl does this for me continually.
5. Sometimes we have a hard time communicating what’s on our heart.
This is sad and we may even know it. Here’s a tip. When you make us feel we will be respected regardless of the emotions we display, the more likely youll see our true emotions.
Please understand. Im not making excuses for men. The basic premise of all of these is to remember that men and women are different. Im simply trying to help you communicate with a man.
Men, what did I miss?
Reposted with permission. Article originally appeared here.