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24 January 2014

Growing healthy marriages

Growing healthy marriages

We know the Church should be the best place in which to grow and nurture a healthy marriage. Christians are far from perfect, but we do have a developed understanding and a rich Biblical framework on which to build on.

Those new to the Church or on the fringe of church life are more likely to be interested in how faith can impact daily life and how they navigate the practicalities of marriage, than explanations on the finer points of eschatology.

National Marriage Week, 7 – 14 February, now in its 18th year, has over 1,500,000 active participants in 24 nations.

How can churches develop a marriage-honouring culture and support and strengthen people in the area of marriage?

Here are just five simple suggestions:

Create space for romance

With modern life being increasingly busy and stressful, time out together can be invaluable to couples, enabling them to re-ignite romance, sparkle and quality conversation. Your church could host couples' evenings: a movie night, candlelit dinner or create a chilled-out atmosphere in a coffee shop. For couples with children, you could actively encourage other congregation members to help weary parents who need to forget about nappies, dummies and school lunches, for a couple of hours.

A Big Promise
As part of National Marriage Week you could encourage couples to be part of The Big Promise. The Big Promise is a Guinness World Record attempt to get thousands of couples simultaneously renewing/reaffirming their vows on Saturday 8 February at 5.15pm. Obviously, organisers are more interested in the vows than a world record, so if that date is not possible your church can still promote the idea of marriage renewal. Big Promise

Get real about struggles
A seminar or event run by a couple/s in the church would be a great opportunity to speak on specific marriage issues such as communication, finances, conflict, or intimacy in an open and helpful manner. Some churches have found that providing an event on relationships or marriage, which allows people to ask anonymous questions of a varied panel of couples, can be a lifeline to many who might be struggling silently.

Run marriage courses
The Marriage Course and Marriage Preparation Course were developed by Nicky and Sila Lee at Holy Trinity Brompton Church and their use and popularity continue to spread. Over a number of sessions couples can discover practical tools to help strengthen communication, resolve conflict, grow closer or prepare a solid foundation for their marriage. It is based on Christian principles and aims to create a relaxed and unthreatening and private atmosphere for the couples to hear presentations and then discuss the issues between them. Marriage Courses

A relationships series
Leaders can run a preaching series on sex and relationships, that will be applicable to everyone whether single, married, dating, engaged, divorced, widowed or experiencing same sex attraction. This would present an opportunity to look in depth at Bible teaching surrounding marriage as well as bringing honest and helpful advice about more taboo subjects such as sex, porn and lust. Group discussions can be complementary. Everyday Church London's, Sex God series, is one example.

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