Saturday, April 22, 2017

Seven Habits Of Effective Marriage-Supporting Congregations

It takes whole congregations to promote whole relationships.
I prepared the following for a workshop at today's "Celebrating Congregational Life" event held at Eastern Mennonite School:

1. Healthy congregations promote celibacy and singleness as respected and worthy options for Christians, in light of Jesus’ and many of his followers’ demonstrations of how one can be an optimally whole and fulfilled person with or without marriage--and in light of New Testament scripture that teaches the primacy of the Kingdom of God family as the focus of one’s highest loyalty and identity. They recognize that mature and Christ-like singles are the best candidates for forming mature and healthy relationships.

2. Children and youth hear frequent life stories of singles, couples, and even of divorced or separated persons in the congregation—in Sunday School classes, youth group and other settings—in order for them to gain wisdom from the real life experiences of others.

3. Pre-engagement counseling and workshops are provided for youth and young adults in serious relationships and before they become officially engaged.

4. Pre-marital counseling is offered for engaged persons, utilizing a premarital inventory. Counseling sessions and/or classes are also provided, along with experienced mentor couples being available for couples at all stages of their relationship. 

5. Couples who experience marital distress are offered counseling to help them learn how to effectively and respectfully disengage from escalating conflicts, rather than simply divorcing their partners. Whenever partners are causing harm to each other, the church offers a means of repair through a Matthew 18 process of recognizing and repenting of the harm being inflicted

6. Frequent Sunday School classes and other workshops or classes are available for marriage enrichment, and good books and other reading material on relationships are recommended and available.

7. Larger congregations provide intergenerational cell groups made up of married and unmarried folks, young and old, who are encouraged to meet in each others homes on a regular basis for fellowship and support.

Here's a link to more posts on strengthening marriage:

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