Throughout the month of May, MinistryTodayMag.com will highlight Ministry Today magazine's 21 ministries and churches influencing the 21st-century church. Today it's MarriageToday, Jimmy and Karen Evans' ministry that is helping to biblically equip and save marriages.
Ever met anyone who opened your eyes to something that revolutionized your life? For me, that guy is my ministry friend, David Smith. More than 20 years ago after a game of golf, in casual conversation David unknowingly introduced me to an idea that ever since has been a game changer in my marriage.
Anyone who meets David for the first time quickly discovers he’s married—happily married. David talks about his wife Linda all the time—even on the golf course where many men seldom talk about their wives. I’ve always admired that about him. When I spent time with him, he constantly complimented Linda and went out of his way to build her up in front of others.
Have you ever stopped to think and seriously consider that the local church—your church—is the frontline of offense in the battle for marriage and ultimately the family?
It’s a daunting thought. God instituted marriage as one of the foundational principals of mankind, and since the moment of its inception, this sacred bond has been under attack. How is a pastor, whose time and capacity are already spread paper thin, supposed to wage a war for these covenant relationships and maintain a revolution of this magnitude and importancewhen the world is working to make them ever more dispensable?
Hope: An expectation of obtainment. To expect with confidence.
I hope that I get that promotion. I hope that my children don’t get hurt. I hope that I find an amazing man to marry.
Everybody hopes in something. For something. It’s as natural as breathing.
I (Cindy) hoped that one day I’d find my knight in shining armor. I didn’t know when he’d arrive on my doorstep, so while I waited for him, I made a list of things that I desired to find in my future husband. Tall. Musical. Loves Jesus. Sensitive. Funny. Respectable. Admirable. Honest. Trusting. Protecting. Handsome.
Some will say the very act of sitting down to come up with a communication strategy will improve how you communicate. Though that may be true, it helps if you’re asking yourself and your team the right questions.
Question 1: Who is our church trying to reach?
You might be tempted to answer, “Everyone!” But start with your church’s mission statement. Everything you do will trickle down from the mission of your church. If your church is like most, it probably has some sort of evangelistic phrase in its mission statement. In fact, if you asked your senior leaders to share their heart about whom they would like to reach, they will most likely speak of reaching those who do not already know Jesus.
This step is critical because it will drive how you communicate on your website and from the stage. It will force you to come up with a communication system that’s easy, obvious and strategic. It will mean giving preference to the outsider who hasn’t yet been to your church, instead of the insider who has been there for years. If the mission of your church is to reach those not in the church, then start talking to them!
Question 2: How are we going to reach our audience on the weekend and during the week?
The weekend seems easy, but without a strategic plan, it will turn to chaos. You’ll need to put together simple criteria to determine what will be talked about through your bulletin, from the stage and on the weekend. The easy criteria to start with is the percentage of your total audience that a particular announcement applies to. If it’s below 90 percent, then you might not want to talk about it from the stage. If it’s below 50 percent, then you might not want to talk about it at all on the weekends.
But don’t stop there. Your online efforts should continue to engage and dialogue about the same things emphasized on the weekends. Your website should be the most trusted source of information. All other media (e-newsletter, social media, etc.) should point to that content.
The most important element about reaching your online audience is engagement. Don’t just tell them the information you want them to hear. Dialogue with them. Ask questions. Post photos.
Asking these two simple questions will begin to frame a strategy from which to start. Focus on communicating creatively and effectively with the people already connected to your church to get them motivated, excited and equipped for outreach. Then you can begin to focus on external marketing based on your mission and budget.
Joe Porter is the communications director at Whitewater Crossing in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, in addition to maintaining his photo and video business. Adapted and used with permission from churchmarketingsucks.com.
We have all heard it said that our priorities should be:
But what if your work is ministry? You are working for God—does that make a difference? In your list of priorities, does ministry equal God—and therefore trump family? Amazingly, many people think so.
A Sad Beginning
I remember a concerned young lady coming to me after class while I was teaching at a Bible school. Her fiancé, John*, was one of the more “on fire” students. Everyone loved him. He had a big heart and was a fearless evangelist.
Note: This is the second of a three-part series about Christian marriages.
There is nothing wrong with having a marriage class, seminar or retreat. We have them all. But a healthy marriage ministry will focus on strengthening marriages, not just fixing marriage problems.
I began to teach a weekly “couples class.” The title alone immediately attracted singles and the divorced. We found that the classic marriage class is designed to fix the problem marriages. I wanted more than that. So we send struggling marriages to the marriage class in hopes that they will get better, graduate and then get back to work for the church.
The very title “marriage class,” along with the predictable subject matter, often defines “healthy marriages” according to a series of dos and don’ts, steps and conditions and understanding one another's differences. After that, there is just getting through life with a new set of tools.