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Home as a Haven of Blessing and Peace

How can our churches strengthen marriages and, by extension, families?

This field is ripe for the harvest with so many families within the UM connection needing support. The devastating societal impact of marital and family breakdowns is well documented and felt among Methodists.

Too often, though, our churches seem to stand by helplessly while our families fall apart. Some church leaders don't know where to start, or they decide to leave it to family counseling professionals instead of reaching out in ministry.

Relationship education and support systems prove that we can

  • learn healthy relationship skills that help us cope with life's challenges
  • unravel the emotional tangles that sabotage families
  • build on family strengths to establish the deep friendship and mutual commitment

Discipleship Ministries is partners with two creative, effective marriage ministry organizations whose goals are to build and save lasting marriages and healthy families: Better Marriages (formerly known as The Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment) and Marriage Encounter United Methodist.

Contact information for trainers are listed by annual conference in the United Methodist Marriage Ministries Directory. Check the listing for your annual conference (or nearby area) and talk with someone about what they can offer your members.

Enlist these trainers to work with your marriage and family ministries planning teams or to provide leadership for specific situations or events. If you know of other marriage and family ministries leaders active in your area, email me so I can invite them into this network.

At my website, you'll find a list of events and training opportunities as well as articles teaching best practices. These cover the spectrum of family and marriage ministries, including Relationship Education for Children, Youth and Young Adults; Marriage Preparation; Marriage Education and Enrichment; and Crisis, Transitions and Special Situations.

You'll also find

  • descriptions of marriage and family ministries offered around the UM connection
  • a training day model for use of Growing Love in Christian Marriage (3rd edition now published)
  • sample wedding/marriage preparation policies and procedures
  • a contact list for Community Marriage Policies, which are ecumenical agreements on common standards and guidelines for marriage preparation, education and enrichment as well as crisis intervention

Help encourage marriage and family ministries throughout our connection by sharing information about books, curriculum kits, DVD programs, organizations, wedding/marriage policies and procedures statements, descriptions of effective programs and contacts.

We want to recruit contacts for each conference (or area) to encourage marriage ministry and to report back to us what's working and what needs support. If you or someone you know would be willing to serve in this way, please let me know.