Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Lori Lowe at Life Gems. I am excited to bring it to you, as this is a subject that is near and dear to the hearts of my wife and I.
The Association of Marriage and Family Ministries (AMFM) serves churches of all denominations across the country by training, equipping and encouraging church leaders to build and repair marriages and families. I spoke with co-founder Eric Garcia recently, and he provided strong insights into how and why faithful people can be supporting and building marriages.
“We believe at the heartbeat of the transformation of faith is the marriage and family,” says Garcia. “If we are going to be successful in bringing people to Christ, we better be able to keep our own homes intact. How can you proclaim an eternal message of faith, but yet that faith is not strong enough to keep you connected in your own home? We can’t expect kids to want to marry today without modeling successful families.”
Garcia says the Church should influence the culture, and not the other way around, which is so prevalent today.
“Every family should be a marriage-building family,” he says. “Parents and married couples need to impart those relationship skills into their kids. Model and teach them at home. If that happens, every church can be a marriage-building church. Every community can be a marriage-building community.”
How are you building marriage in your own home and community? What are you teaching your kids about Christian marriage? How are you modeling successful relationship skills? Are you seeking to learn and to improve? Are you modeling the priority of your relationship with God, then marriage, then family?
Why are Christians shy to talk about marriage and their biblical view of marriage in their own homes and in their own communities?
Garcia says if faithful people don’t share their values, then the culture provides the predominant influence on our children and neighbors.
With 90 percent of Americans choosing to marry at some point, the relational needs of church communities are “off the charts,” says Garcia. Read How Should Churches Support Marriages & Families? to find out how AMFM serves churches across the country, including the Catholic Church, African-American and Hispanic churches, and evangelical and Protestant Christian churches of every denomination.
Garcia says improving marriage skills, such as communication, can be important. After all, he cites conflicts about money, sexual intimacy and communication are the top reasons for divorce. However, he says, “Without a heart change, the skills have no stickability.” What creates that long-term heart change, he says, is a relationship with Christ.
“Marriage and family is the backbone of the local church, and if we help people get relationships right, we will see the church grow,” says Garcia.
AMFM provides online ministries as well as physical ministries in cities around the country. Technology has enabled the organization to reach a key demographic of those married less than eight years. Garcia says a whopping 75% of just-marrieds leave the church until they are expecting their first child. Therefore, more needs to be done to reach out and support these couples in their early years of marriage.
Many churches and faithful people are doing a better job of helping couples prepare for marriage, but are we encouraging couples once they are married, or are we keeping a safe distance and never discussing anything too personal?
Generation X grew up during a doubling of the divorce rate, which means many of us lack role models for positive marriage who were once common in families. Seek out positive role models within your church or community, and consider mentoring or encouraging other couples, particularly as you gain experience and wisdom.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments:
Do you feel like your marriage is supported by society and, in particular, your own institutions of faith?
What could churches do better to address this great need?
What are YOU doing to be a marriage-building family?Photo by Bill Ward’s Brickpile
Lori Lowe provides marriage tips and research at LifeGems4Marriage.com. She is writing a narrative non-fiction book profiling couples who have improved their marriages through adversity. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children.
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.