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Last Minute Tips for Your Big Event

Last Minute Tips for Your Big Event

So you’re 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 pieces—you 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.

11 Steps to Start a Marriage Ministry the Right Way

11 Steps to Start a Marriage Ministry the Right Way

When I started marriage ministry in the local church in 2001, I felt alone. As I looked across the country, I saw very few churches that had a holistic approach to marriage, or any approach for that matter.

I am encouraged with the number of churches leaders who are going after it. Some have a plan. Others ask: “How do I get started?” For the latter group, this post is for you.

1. Get Buy-In From Senior Leadership

Let’’s start with the obvious. You need to recognize where the power for change (or at least powerful influence) lies—: senior leadership. Depending on your church structure, this could be anyone from the senior pastor, the executive pastor, the person overseeing family ministry or the head of elders to the janitor.

The senior pastor may not supervise you directly. But we encourage you to make sure you’’ve got buy-in from the ministry leader before beginning this ministry. If the senior pastor isn’’t supportive of it, you will really struggle to implement a marriage strategy.

2. Identify the Point Person

This person needs to be a self-starter who can take an idea and run with it. He or she needs to be comfortable working with other leaders and have the ability to recruit others for help.

There’’s no one type of personality that fits for all situations—. We’’ve seen both extroverts and introverts win in this role—. But the common characteristic of a good leader is one who has the ability to make things happen on his or her own.

If he or she has to wait for you before making decisions and moving forward, this process will stall out and drive you crazy.

3. Cast Vision with a Core Team of Leaders

Here’’s a leadership truth you can bank on: Everyone wants to be invited to something. Invite people to join you in leadership. What’’s better than helping marriages? Invite people onto this roller coaster called marriage ministry—it’s guaranteed to be a wild ride.

One suggestion is to choose heart over skills, always. We’d rather teach a good-hearted person the needed skills, than try to teach a skilled person to have a heart.

4. Pause to Pray

We assume you’’ve been praying during this entire process. We also know it’’s easy for ambitious leaders to move too fast. We like ideas and movement and want to see both appear quickly.

We get it and appreciate your enthusiasm. But, slow down. Breathe. Take time to pray and talk to Jesus about your ambitious dreams and desires.

We suggest talking to God before, during, and after. Always seek the wisdom that He promises to provide. Jesus is God, and even He waited 30 years before starting His ministry. And what was one of His first leadership decisions? He went into the wilderness to fast and pray.

5. Gather For the All-In” Planning Session

We suggest you plan some extended time to reconnect with the key leaders on your marriage team. Stack hands” on moving forward.

Affirm those who return to this all-in meeting. Thank God for the team that is going to serve marriages in and outside of your church.

6. Determine “Phase 1” Strategy

If you’’re planning on using the MarriedPeople Strategy, you can check it out at www.marriedpeople.org. This will help you determine the environments you want to create and the pace at which you may wish to implement them.

If you are not using the MarriedPeople Strategy, you’’ll have to determine your next steps. Whichever direction you choose, please know that we will be cheering you on. We’’re happy to help you as well as to learn from you. Your approach may be just as good or better than ours.

7. Determine Core Content

What are the few, most important principles or teachings you want your church to embrace about marriage? There are many ways to say the same thing; our content, the Core 4 Habits, aren’’t your only option.

Remember an important principle: if you teach less, people may actually learn more. Here are some questions that may serve as warning signs.

As you look at content, ask yourself:

  • Does the material contain too much for people to absorb?
  • Is it male friendly?
  • Will it require a dictionary to get through it—? Is it too clinical or complicated?
  • Is it too churchy? Or —filled with words and terms that non-church people won’’t recognize?

8. Create the Calendar

Securing dates in advance is a must for an effective marriage strategy. People are so busy that if they haven’’t blocked events on their calendars in advance, your efforts will result in an empty room. Be advised: there are no perfect days.

There is always going to be something that’’s competing for your suggested event. Be wise. At the end of the day, make sure your leaders will all be there. Put it on the calendar.

9. Get the Word Out

Marketing and messaging are crucial to the ministry’s attendance and success. Perhaps that is even truer for marriage ministry because most couples are so busy they have to be picky and selective about how they spend their time just for survival.

The church is a noisy place with many different ministries trying to make themselves heard.

10. Be on the Look Out For Leaders

From day one, you’ll need to be on the lookout for other leaders to come alongside you and develop your team. Remember: this ministry is bigger than you. Everything rises and falls on the health of leadership.

Surround yourself with the strengths of others. Look for people who will make your weaknesses seem irrelevant.

11. Get Feedback

Don’’t take criticism too personally or praise too seriously. One person will say the music was awesome. Someone else will complain that it was too loud and secular. As a leader, you’’re going to have to be discerning when it comes to people’s input. Seek Jesus for wisdom to make the right changes.

Gather feedback to inform and help guide you; don’’t let it defeat you. Prepare feedback cards or use easy online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey. Good leaders debrief and evaluate to see what’’s working and what’’s not.

Our prayer is that these steps are helpful to you. You should have some ideas of how to begin doing some amazing things in the lives of the couples in and around your church.

How to Customize MP Monthly Using MailChimp

How to Customize MP Monthly Using MailChimp

by Robert Carnes

Email is an effective way your church can communicate with married couples. That’s why we created MP Monthly—a ready-made monthly email newsletter. It’s full of wise advice, dating tips, and conversation starters.

One option for sending out MP Monthly is to upload the pre-made template  into MailChimp and send as is. But what if you want to customize the template specifically for couples in your church? We’re so glad you asked.

Upload the Images

One way to customize the MP Monthly Ezine is by recreating the template within MailChimp. This starts by uploading the image files.

  • Download the MP Monthly zip file from your Strategy Pack.
  • Inside the folder is a subfolder labeled Images
  • In MailChimp, navigate to Templates from the main menu
  • Click on the Content Manager button in the top right
  • Drag and drop all of the image files from the MP Monthly folder into the MailChimp window
  • This will automatically upload these images into your media library

Start a Campaign

With the images successfully uploaded to the library, it’s time to create a new email campaign.

  • Navigate to Campaigns in the MailChimp menu
  • Click the Create Campaign button in the top right
  • Name the campaign and select Regular as the campaign type
  • Select your audience and write a compelling subject line
  • Read this for full details on setting up a new campaign

Recreate the Content

Now it’s time to recreate the content of the email from the template provided. This will allow you to fully customize the email you create.

  • Select a Basic One Column template
  • Click Next to Design the content
  • Return to your MP Monthly zip folder and locate the HTML file
  • Open this in a web browser (eg. Chrome) to preview the email template
  • Using MailChimp’s content blocks, recreate the structure of the sample email
  • Copy and paste the text from the HTML email into the text blocks
  • Add image blocks and browse your media library for the files you previously uploaded
  • Recreating the email in this way allows you to customize the content to fit your needs
  • Feel free to edit the text, add your own images or change up the layout

The Advanced Method

There is another way to customize the MP Monthly email, but it requires knowing how to read and edit HTML. This way is quicker, but much more technically complex.

  • Follow the instructions for uploading the zip folder as a template
  • This automatically creates the content of the email for you
  • However, the only way to customize is by editing the HTML code in the right panel
  • Pro tip: use the find text feature to locate the code that corresponds to the template; then edit like you would normal text

Congratulations! You’ve successfully customized a MP Monthly email using MailChimp. You’re one step closer to improving marriages in your church.

 

Robert Carnes is an editor/writer on the MarriedPeople Team.

Reaching Couples in their Inbox

Reaching Couples in their Inbox

by Tim Walker

Want to reach couples in real life? For many, that means hanging out in their inbox.

It’s where they get the notice that a bill is due.
Or that they need to bring $20 for the latest thing/event at school. (Why is it always $20—and so often?)

But what if you put something fun in their inbox? No, we’re not talking about all those “cute” emails your grandmother forwards everyone. But what if you put something in their email inbox that helped couples connect, laugh, dream, or just escape?

What if you gave couples go’s and do’s that they could actually go and do? That’s the mission of MarriedPeople Monthly, a resource that’s part of the Strategy Pack or can be purchased individually.

Every month, a new “issue” of MarriedPeople Monthly is available to subscribers either through a weblink or downloadable HTML files that can be loaded into an email management system like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

MP Monthly is also mobile-friendly. Couples can easily read the content together in a shared moment at a coffee shop, doctor’s office, or during dance or baseball practice.

But like other MarriedPeople resources, how/when/what you use is up to you. And also like our other resources, our MarriedPeople partners are taking the content and doing some awesome things.

Here are some of the ways just a few of our MP partner churches are showing their genius with MarriedPeople Monthlly:

“We utilize MailChimp and our list for the MP Monthly is specific to anyone that has attended any of our MP events. We’ve also created a FB group for our married folks in the church and community that people can request to be added to the list.” —Chris Fedorcek from City Light Church

“We post one part of the monthly on our church Facebook page every Monday and have our servant team share it. #MarriedPeopleMonday
We have also had each person on our servant team email the content directly to a group of couples they pray for each month. It builds a sweet connection and mentor potential.” —Josh Fortney from Pathway Church

Stephanie Porter from Eagle Rock Baptist Church used MP Monthly in a unique way. She breaks up the content into four different pieces, and sends it out each week branded as MP Weekly. Stephanie can help prompt couples to stay connected every week.

Couples are busy and many are on the go constantly. MP Monthly is something that many of them can take with them, and it gives them a way to use technology to reconnect.

Smart leaders like Chris, Josh, and Stephanie are finding ways to reach of their communities where they are. We think you’re really smart, too! You know the couples in your church better than us, and how to reach them in their everyday lives. So what do you think is the best way for you to use MP Monthly to reach them?

Post your ideas below.

Meet the Communicators: CLEAR Strategy Pack

Meet the Communicators: CLEAR Strategy Pack

Meet the Communicators from the MarriedPeople Strategy Pack: CLEAR!

In the 2017-2018 MarriedPeople Strategy Pack, CLEAR, we are featuring four incredible communicators in our Larger Group Experiences.

While your church always has the option to communicate live instead of showing the videos we provide, sometimes it’s nice to focus on other things and let someone else do the speaking. If you decide to use the videos, don’t worry. You’re in good hands. These are some great leaders.

Clear: Larger Group Experience: Get Clear on . . . God’s Help (Love God First)

Communicator: Mike Owens
Mike Owens has over 20 years experience ministering the Gospel through creative, inspiring teaching and training leaders. He is the founder and CEO of Ground Breakers Inc., a youth leadership development organization and youth and young adult outreach ministry to the city of Atlanta and abroad. Minister Mike and his wife have also launched a new church in Atlanta called “EVOLvE ATL.” He’s married to Shemika Owens with 4 amazing children.

Clear: Larger Group Experience: Get Clear on . . . What’s in Your Backpack (Respect & Love)

Communicator: Ted Lowe
After serving as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, Ted Lowe started an organization called MarriedPeople. MarriedPeople is part of Orange, a company that resources churches and families, and creates resources and training tools for leaders that work with married couples. Ted also co-authored the book for ministry leaders, MarriedPeople: How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last, and wrote the book for couples, Your Best US: Marriage is Easier Than You Think. Ted lives in Cumming, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children.

Latest or recommended book/resource: Your Best US: Marriage is Easier Than You Think

Clear: Larger Group Experience: Get Clear on . . . Your Team (Have Serious Fun)

Communicator: Ted Cunningham
Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. He is the author of Fun Loving You, Trophy Child, and Young and In Love, as well as co-author of four books with Dr. Gary Smalley: The Language of Sex, From Anger to Intimacy, Great Parents, Lousy Lovers and As Long as We Both Shall Live. Ted and his wife, Amy, have been married for 17 years and live in Branson with their two children, Corynn and Carson.

Latest or recommended book/resource: Come to the Family Table: Slowing Down to Enjoy Food, Each Other, and Jesus

Clear: Larger Group Experience: Get Clear on . . . Technology (Practice Your Promise)

Communicator: Mo Isom and Jeremiah Aiken
Mo Isom’s unique personal story and athletic endeavors have provided her with a platform to challenge, encourage, and equip others to live boldly, despite their circumstances. Her former life included being an All-American soccer goalkeeper, the first female to train with and tryout for an SEC football team, and LSU’s Homecoming Queen. Her story is riddled with adversity, but in the midst of it, she had a life-saving encounter with Christ. Mo lives in Atlanta with her husband, Jeremiah Aiken, and daughter.

Latest or recommended book/resource: Wreck My Life: Journeying from Broken to Bold

For more information about the MarriedPeople Strategy Pack, CLEAR, click here. 

Evaluating Your Marriage Ministry

Evaluating Your Marriage Ministry

Ahh . . . summer. You made it. While you probably don’t have weeks of vacation like a third grader, there is a pace of life that seems to slow a little bit during summer. There’s more fun, more relaxation, more focus. Why not use this time to do the same for your marriage ministry?

For many churches, big events are difficult to schedule in the summer, so hopefully your “to do” list becomes a bit shorter. Use this season to step back, recharge, and evaluate your marriage ministry. Celebrate the WINS of the past year and look toward the future. (In other words, have a party with your volunteers.) Take inventory of how well your ministry is working and make necessary adjustments where needed.

Think of it this way: “If you want to build something that lasts, you have to be willing to change what you build” (source: Reggie Joiner from The Orange Leader Handbook).

So, how do you begin to take inventory of your marriage ministry?

You might try starting with the following guide. Spend some time going through the questions on your own and then with your team.

When meeting with your team, allow for open honest discussions, brainstorming of ideas, sifting down to best ideas, and then develop a plan for moving forward.

Download the guide evaluation guide here . . . mp_evaluatingmministry

And then ready, set, go.