Sunday our pastor, Andy Stanley, gave an amazing message on giving called, An Ounce of Prevention. He said there are two types of giving:
1) Intervention giving is emotional and the results are measurable.
2) Prevention giving is neither. But it is far superior.
He makes the point that intervention giving is important. In fact, North Point Ministries just raised $2,000,000 to immediately help charities in the Atlanta area. They also pledged 15,000 hours of volunteer service to help these charities. What an amazing example of intervention giving. But then, in what I thought was an amazingly insightful and brave leadership move, he said, “But prevention giving is far superior to intervention giving.” He gave many examples of why this is true, but of course my favorite was his example of marriage ministry. When a church has a preventive approach to marriage, the problem is that they never know what they have prevented, so they don’t have emotional stories to tell. When a church creates a tool or sets up a relationship to “save” a marriage, it often results in a measurable and sensational story; which is great. We will not know until heaven what good marriages were made great, what divorces were prevented and everything in between. But there is no argument that preventing a couple from crisis is far superior to crisis intervention.
Many churches have an intervention approach to helping marriages. Why? I think the stories of divorce and pain have left many of them shelled-shocked, fighting in triage mode. But we talk to church leaders every day who get that a prevention approach is far superior to an intervention approach. And while there may be very few church leaders paid to solely focus on marriage ministry, there are children, student, family and lay leaders who are coming out of the woodwork asking questions and giving answers for marriage that fall under the preventive category. I think these questions and answers are leading to stories that aren’t as sensational, but they are far superior. Perhaps a story of a step-family of five staying together instead of splitting once again. Maybe a boy will have his dad at home until he goes to college instead of seeing him every other weekend. Maybe a couple comes to Christ because a neighbor invited them to a “marriage thing” at church. Maybe many marriages that would have been dull and lifeless are full of laughter and life. Why? Because the church taught them how.
The new year is coming, what are some fresh, preventive and strategic moves your church can make to create stories that may never be told?
From 2001-2010, Ted Lowe worked as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church. His wife Nancie played a huge role in hosting and planning MarriedLife programs at North Point. It was during their time at North Point that they decided they not only wanted to help the married people at North Point, but married people at churches all over the world. So, in partnership with Orange and church leaders everywhere, they are working fast and furiously to—HELP CHURCHES HELP MARRIAGES. They have three children: Chapman (10), Judson (7), and Teddie (5), and live in Cumming, Georgia. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.