The idea is simple, but the execution will take a shift in how the Western church is used to operating. Covid has forced change in the ways we were used to doing things. Some churches are responding to the impact of Covid by looking for new doors to open.
Where is your church today? How is your post Covid mindset impacting your ministry choices? Many churches in America, are still “trying to figure it out.” We all hoped that things would get back to normal quickly, but that has not happened. The church has relied on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights to minister to its people. Most churches have survived the major dips in Sunday morning attendance, but many pastors feel a little lost for the best ways to reach their congregations and communities.
How should the church respond to our rapidly changing culture? Where can the church leverage her God-given influence to effect Gospel change in the lives of both believers and non-believers? Is there a way to meet the felt needs common to all people that would open the door to gospel conversations and true transformation?
Perhaps the answer is not in trying to figure out how to function as we used to function, but instead take this opportunity to get outside the familiar box and focus on meeting people where they are. The church is called the family of families; maybe this is where we start. Could it be that the issues we see all around us stem from crumbling families and broken marriages? Might the solution to see a shift in culture toward moral decency and faith in Jesus be the church championing God’s design for marriage and forming a strategic plan to call us out of complacency and into action?
In their book, Endgame: The Church’s Strategic Move to Save Faith and Family in America, John Van Epp and J.P. De Gance offer a compelling and comprehensive argument for how the church has the right message and is in the best position to meet our nations rising need of creating healthy relationships, marriages and families. They recognize the Western church’s need to focus its efforts on the spread of the Gospel through the building of healthy marriages. They say, “Historically, missionary evangelism has grown out of an effort to meet the most dire and essential needs of a community or society – such as famine, inadequate shelter, medical and educational deficiencies, etc. Addressing the urgent need then becomes a platform for building a relationship and sharing the Gospel of Christ. Our belief is that here in the United States and throughout Western culture, that urgent need is the lack of relational health in dating, marriages, and families.” – Endgame
“Churches in America have the opportunity and responsibility to build relationship ministries and outreaches into their congregations and communities – congruent with their faith – that speak to the needs of singes, couples, and families, and, as a result, will grow their churches and transform their communities.” – Endgame
Marriage preceded the church and has always been central to the church but a focused effort of ministering to marriages specifically is fairly new territory. Churches all over the nation report a concerted effort in marriage ministry, but the research suggests otherwise. “Just 28% of Protestant churches and 24% of Catholic parishes have a substantive marriage ministry. In all, 85% of all churches report spending zero percent of their annual budget on marriage. Just 24% allocated any portion of a staff member’s time to running a marriage ministry – and almost none allocated a full-time staff member to marriage ministry.” – Endgame
These stats are staggering. Our perceptions of marriage ministry in the church are skewed from the reality of the situation. If we have a hope of seeing things truly change in our churches and communities, then we must do something different than what we are used to.
If you are a pastor, ministry leader, or feel this is important for your church, The Central Arkansas Marriage Initiative (CAMI) wants to connect with you to collaborate on a strategic yearly plan for marriage ministry. As an initiative of the City Church Network, our goal is to see all churches in Central Arkansas build out thriving marriage ministries, see lives changed, culture redefined, and the divorce rate lowered. Endgame outlines a great model that can be reproduced by any congregation with minimal effort. The feedback we’ve received from those who’ve read it is clear, this is a resource every pastor needs to read. In fact, we are so confident that it will be a game changing resource for you, we want to put a copy in your hands. If you are a pastor or ministry leader, please contact Jason Ancarrow, CAMI Director, to learn more. (firstname.lastname@example.org)