One of the things I’m looking the most forward to at this year’s Orange Conference is the MarriedPeople Network Gathering on Thursday night. People have to sign up for the Gatherings, so we have the advantage of knowing who’s coming.
I actually googled all our attendees to see what role they play at their church. Of the thirty or so who have signed up for the Marriage Ministry Gathering, how many do you think are paid full- or part-time by their church to focus on marriage? As of now, zero. That’s right, the MarriedPeople Gathering will be attended by senior pastors, executive pastors, small group pastors, children’s pastors, volunteer coordinators and everyone in between, not a marriage pastor in site.
It used to frustrate me when I found out that the marriage offerings at The Orange Conference were attended by people who weren’t paid to focus on marriage. Now, I love it. Why? Because I’ve found over the years that most of the people who attend marriage offerings at conferences are there because they are passionate about helping marriages. This may sound like a dreamer statement, but I believe it’s true: I feel we are on the cusp of marriage ministry taking ahold in churches all over the world. And I love the idea that it is being started by people who don’t have marriage ministry in their job description, who already have too much to do, and/or who feel unqualified. I love the idea that some of the people at The Orange Conference will be brave enough to go home and shake things up a bit in order to make marriage ministry a priority. I love the idea that some of them will ask for their job descriptions to be changed in whole or in part to make marriage ministry a priority. I love the idea that some of them will leave their church to be a part of a church that makes marriage ministry a priority.
I imagine youth ministry—that didn’t exist that long ago—started, in part, the same way. I imagine some of these leaders were at conferences and gatherings that didn’t have much to do with youth ministry but they somehow found each other and had conversations that frustrated and inspired them to do what they knew God was calling them to do: youth ministry. We’ve been praying this is exactly what will happen for marriage ministry at OC13. So, beware if you are coming to a marriage offering at The Orange Conference simply because you chose the short stick. God just might call you to marriage ministry!
I look forward to finding and seeing my marriage ministry misfits next week at The Orange Conference. Are you coming?
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 Ted on Twitter and Facebook.