So you have a passion for marriage ministry and you're ready to get started. In fact, you are so motivated that you want to share your plans and enlist anyone who shows interest. Why not? The more, the better, right?
Not so fast!
A key component to a vibrant, growing marriage ministry with staying power is recruiting and equipping the right couples to serve alongside you on the leadership team. So while you may be eager to get started, you will want to take your time recruiting your team members. Then, once you have your team members identified, you will want to take more time training them in effective ministry.
Recruiting team members
Effective ministry is a spiritual battle. Because Satan does not want God’s kingdom to prevail, he will attack. We advise that you not try to initiate a marriage ministry on your own. Enlist a team to share in your victories and your challenges.
The size of your church and your ministry plan will guide you in determining how many couples are needed on the ministry team. A team can be as small as you and one other couple or several couples. Depending on the size of your church, we suggest a leadership team of 4 to 6 couples. If your team is too large, decisions become slowed; too small and members burn out.
Begin by praying for the Lord to send you team members with passion to enrich marriages. We discourage putting out an open invitation for members. This is not a club to join; this is serious kingdom business and requires prioritized commitment.
Schedule a time with your pastor to share your vision and ask him to suggest couples for the ministry’s leadership team. Marriages may not always be as healthy as they seem. Couples may appear to have a great marriage in public, but privately they could be struggling.
Observe couples in your church and seek out the ones who have visibly healthy marriages. When we were enlisting our team members, we sought suggestions from a life coach in our church who provided marital enrichment guidance.
Once you have identified some interested couples, share your ministry vision with them. If they express interest in serving, ask them to take the Prepare/Enrich® couple’s assessment. This assessment will bring to light areas of strength and areas for growth in marriages.
Set a minimum assessment outcome of “Conventional Couple” as a requirement to serve on the leadership team. If a couple is interested but does not have the necessary strengths, ask them to be a part of the marriage support team. This allows them to build into their relationship and serve, but it also protects their marriage from taking on more responsibility than they can handle at this time. It also protects the ministry.
When asking couples to commit to the leadership team, be clear that it is a year commitment and can be renewed annually. This helps the team to have stability and continuity.
Equipping team members
Once you have your team members enlisted, you must equip them for service. Help your team members to be successful by learning how they serve best and channeling them to serve from their strengths.
With our team, we expected each couple to lead a class annually. At first, facilitating was overwhelming, so we spent time training in facilitation skills. Using a six-week study with team members, we asked each couple to lead the class for one session. Afterward, we reviewed the session and made suggestions as to how to improve their facilitating skills.
This was a friendly environment where they could learn without judgment. Each couple's confidence increased and they realized facilitating was not too difficult once they learned some basic skills. Today, the couples who were apprehensive at leading a class six years ago are confidently leading classes and speaking during marriage events to large audiences.
Beyond facilitating classes, you will need members to do many other tasks. As you get to know members, match their service with their strengths. We suggest meeting weekly for the first few months to develop cohesiveness and camaraderie. During your meetings, include prayer, planning, fun, and food. Be prayer warriors for one another and be a source of help and support in each other’s lives outside of your meetings as well. Share life with each other. We enjoyed bonfires, bowling, concerts, ball games, retreats, and meals together.
As your team evolves, some members may decide to work with other ministries or conclude their involvement. As couples leave the team, recognize and honor their involvement. Then add others through vetting and unanimous support from the remaining members of the team.
Recruiting the right team members and equipping them to serve will provide a strong foundation for the ministry plans you develop.
Meet the Authors: Scott and Sue Allen
Scott and Sue Allen live in Fairfield Glade, Tennessee. As lay leaders, they speak at events and retreats and provide marriage enrichment through mentoring and coaching. Over the last seven years, they have directly applied their experiences through successfully launching a marriage ministry in a church of 450 people.
Copyright © 2018 by Scott and Sue Allen. All rights reserved.
1. Read “Launching a Marriage Ministry: A First Person Perspective.”
2. Download FamilyLife’s Tips for Starting a Marriage Ministry.
3. Find more information on FamilyLife’s marriage resources and events.