In 2001, we started creating quarterly, one-night marriage events at our church. I knew one of our biggest hurdles would be to make the event appealing to the men of our church. Notice, I said the men of our church, emphasis on church. Because I never dreamed that a marriage event would be a good place for our regular attenders to invite their non-church going or non-believing family, friends, and neighbors . . . especially if they happen to be male. Why? Because, typically, it’s men who don’t want to talk about their marriages.
But as church leaders, we shouldn’t be too quick to judge men for their lack of want to. One study showed that marriage ministry is perceived as boring, outdated, and preachy. When that’s the case, why would men want to attend? That study is about 10 years old, and for the last decade, I have watched church leaders from all over the country change how they approach marriage ministry. The unexpected benefit: people who they never dreamed would come to their church, come to their church. Why? Two main reasons:
1) People told me countless times that it is easier to ask someone to a “marriage thing” on Saturday night, than to Sunday morning church.
2) People don’t have to love Jesus to want their marriage to work. So people’s desire to have a better, good or even great marriage, often trumps many of their hesitancies about church.
When you combine those two powerful reasons with a great marriage event at your church, you can often have a great impact on the marriages of church AND your community. Here are six ways to make marriage events the best entry point into your church.
- Think masculine. Ask yourself each step of the way, “Will our marketing and programming appeal to women AND men?”
- Think non-believer. As you share what the Bible has to say about marriage, remember not everyone knows the Bible. They may have never heard phrases like, “two becoming one.”
- Think fun. Nothing disarms a crowd like humor, so use humor but keep it classy.
- Think less for more. Often when you teach less, people learn more.
- Think application. Help people to easily practice the biblical principle you presented at your event. Give couples just one go and do they can actually do.
- Think, now what? Many marriage events are filled with five years worth of content with no, “now whats.” What if you flipped this on its head by giving couples one principle with one application and many “now-whats,” like the date of your next event, date night ideas, small groups, counseling, etc.
I never dreamed marriage events would be the best place to invite a 34-year-old man who hadn’t been to church since he was 12, but the attendees at my church schooled me on that one. In this case at least, I love it when I’m wrong.