The concept of a “bait and switch” is common today. Doug Fields, in his main session at the Orange Conference 2014 says that he experienced a bait and switch when he first went into ministry. He stated that he eventually realized that he cannot adequately care for students unless he cared for their parents. Specifically, he needed to care for marriages. It’s not uncommon for a bad marriage to affect the entire family and make it bad. For example, when parents are having a hard time showing each other grace, how can they show their kids how to express grace?
Doug says that when we say yes to the next generation, we say yes to helping marriages win. He goes on, “The best organization in the world is the one God gave the world in Acts — the church.” Often, though, our churches aren’t really prepared. The strategies of providing a book, yearly conference, sermon, or even a series is not enough. That would never be enough for a student ministry, so why do we think it would be enough for married people?
What if your job description does not contain marriages? Doug says that if you are connecting with kids, students, etc, you should be connecting with marriages. If you don’t have time, he suggests maybe cutting back to focus on the things. Some churches and ministries have way too many programs that keep us from focusing on the right things. Why should we be concerned about marriages? Doug says it is because we, as family ministry leaders, are about discipleship and kids.
So, how do we say yes to helping marriages win?
1) Focus on your own marriage.
“Your marriage is more important than your ministry.”
2) Teach your kids about marriage.
We focus on the second part of Hebrews 13:4, but we often forget to teach the first part that says, “Marriage should be honored by all.”
3) Recruit a mentor couple to be around your ministry.
There are people within our churches that have a great message but are just sitting and waiting.
4) Help couples date.
All current research says marriages get better when the couple has dedicated time together. Sometimes, they just need ideas.
5) Connect a marriage strategy to your ministry.
Someone needs to lead it. If not you, maybe a committed volunteer couple within your church.
Doug closed out saying, “You came here thinking, your a children’s worker or youth worker, but I hope you’re leaving with marriage as a priority.”
Doug co-authored a book called, “MarriedPeople,” which should be available soon. I have a copy, so you can expect my thoughts after my wife and I read it. There is also a website and resource you can check out at MarriedPeople.org. You can also connect with Doug on Twitter at @DougFields.