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CHURCH and COMMUNITY MARRIAGE & FAMILY REFORMATION INITIATIVE

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The Reformed Evangelical Association of Church/Community Leaders Helping Turn Marriage Back Toward God

Nothing can shake up your church’s mission, outreach and future growth more than divorce.
If half the married couples in your congregation divorced, how would it affect the church?

Tithing, volunteerism, lay leadership, church attendance would all drop … significantly! Demand for financial assistance, childcare, and more of your time through pastoral counseling would all increase …significantly.

Make your church and your community less vulnerable by proactively focusing on improving the health and quality of your congregation’s current and future marriages. Have a vibrant and thriving Marriage Ministry!

Church-goers want Marriage Ministry. Those who’ve attended Marriage Education classes confirm that it works. And half of those who’ve never attended Marriage Education would if it were made available to them.

As a Pastor, you’re busy and probably have too much to do already. And while there are other church priorities that you are working on right now, your church can’t afford to delay having a Marriage & Family Ministry that excites, engages, energizes, and educates, your entire congregation and the surrounding community.

The Community Family Reformation Initiative is a systematic approach to Divorce Proof Marriages by:

1) Adoption of Church/Community Wide Marriage Covenant
2) Sponsoring Christian Couples Conferences/Events in your area
3) Having a Strong Marriage and Family Ministry at Local Church Level
4) Pre-marital coaching and counseling available and required
5) Providing access (virtual and real) to Trained Professional Counselors and Marriage Mentors

1) Adoption of Church/Community Wide Marriage Covenant-

Adoption of the community wide agreement kicks off the Community Family Reformation Initiative (CFRI). The signing is typically done on the courthouse steps at Noon on the Friday of the weekend seminar. Family Matters First works with local supporters to promote the event through the local media, radio, TV, newspaper, church bulletin announcements, etc. At this event local pastors and lay leaders meet on the courthouse steps to read the Community Marriage Covenant and publicly sign the document as a show of commitment and support. A copy is attached at the end of this document for your review

2) Family Matters First Couples Conference-

Jim and Teresa Adams, co-founders of Family Matters First have spent over 20 years teaching and speaking to groups on Marriage and Family matters.

The Adams’ have discovered that couples can divorce proof their marriage by understanding and embracing basic biblical concepts, and learning proven tools and techniques.

FMF offers weekend sessions designed to impact couples from all walks of life and in different stages of their relationships. Whether a couple is dating, engaged, married, separated, divorced, or remarried; whether your marriage is sick and you want it to be super, or good and you want it to be great, the Family Matters First session offers a fantastic opportunity to discover God’s plan for marriage and family.

The sessions are interactive, energetic, and informative. The Adams share tried and proven biblical principles on which to build a solid foundation and grow a strong marriage. Solid and sound biblical teaching coupled with practical and personal experiences from their 24 years of marriage, allow Jim and Teresa to truly connect and impact with couples in all stages of a marriage relationship.

The weekend’s itinerary also includes separate sessions designed specifically for Men and Women. We truly believe this is one of the best investments a couple can make in their marriage and our partner churches can extend to their member’s conference enrollment at half of the published session prices!

3) Strong Marriage and Family Ministry at Local Church Level-

A local Marriage and Family Ministry is a valuable asset to Pastors who are often overwhelmed by distressed marriages. Marriage Ministry Leaders are couples (at least 2) selected by the local Pastor as people with healthy, stable relationships with a passion to be positive role models for couples who lack competent relationship skills, and are spiritually mature and maturing couples.

These Marriage & Family Ministry Leaders or Marriage Mentors become important sounding boards as couples face the inevitable challenges of marriage. Marriage mentors lovingly invest in the preparation, maximization, and restoration of lifelong marriages by walking alongside couples who are less experienced than their mentors.

We started and led the Marriage Ministry at New Hope Baptist Church- Jackson, MS for over 20 years, and Jim served full time on church staff for 7 years. Weekly Worship service attendance averages over 1200 and weekly couples class attendance averages over 100! http://newhope-baptist.org

We offer “train the trainer” services to our partner churches, including curriculum selection, programing ideas, and ways to successfully promote strong marriage and families in your local congregation.

4) Pre-marital Coaching and Counseling-

It is our responsibility to raise the level of commitment in those considering marriage and those married couples who look for spiritual instruction. Couples who seriously participate in premarital education and counseling will have a better understanding of what marriage involves. An increased commitment to marriage preparation will result in the reduction of failed and failing marriages.

It is our responsibility to encourage couples to set aside time for marriage preparation. A wedding is but a day, while a marriage is for a lifetime. The idea that couples will spend thousands of dollars, and countless hours preparing for a wedding, which last a day, with little to no investment in the actual marriage, which is designed to last a lifetime, must be reformed.

An effective marriage and family ministry includes an educational component during the preparation stages. This component contains both an educational element and an assessment element.

5) Provide access (virtual and real) to Professional Counselors and Marriage Mentors-

Family Matters First works with local leadership to identify and equip couples to serve as marriage mentors in the local ministry and we locate counseling centers inside the local church making professional help both accessible and affordable.

We Partner With the Local Church

The power of this ministry comes from the combined effort of our team and mentors in churches all across the country.

We share your desire to help couples improve their relationships. Imagine what it would look like in your church to have engaged couples entering marriage with a solid Biblical foundation, married couples taking their marriages from good to great and hurting, broken marriages made whole.

What Is a Marriage Mentor?

Newlyweds often need someone to talk to who has walked down the path of marriage and often parents and friends are not the best sources.

While a mother and father can certainly serve a helpful function in the life of a new bride or groom, they usually cannot offer the distance and objectivity that a mentor gives. For this reason, it is important first to realize exactly what a mentor is not:

  • A mentor is not a mother or father.
  • A mentor is not a friend.
  • A mentor is not “on call” for every little crisis.
  • A mentor is not a know-it-all.
  • A mentor is not committed long-term.

Professional Counselors-

For many couples, professional counseling is required to address issues in their marriage. While many Pastors also offer counseling services- for larger congregations- a Pastoral counseling approach may not be practical given the sheer number of hours that would be required each week. This often could be and needs to be a full time position. Many churches now have professional counselors on staff. While this may be an option, often the expense associated with this approach may not be economically feasible.

Historically professional counseling (especially in our community) has not been a “top of mind” solution to address may issues. There are several reasons- at the top of the list are:

Accessibility and Affordability

While we realize it’s not practical for all size churches to add a professional counselor to church staff. This would typically cost upwards of $50,000 a year and while we believe the investment would be worth every penny- for many churches, this isn’t financially feasible.

However a comparable level of service can be offered through our Church Partnership Counseling Ministry.

Offered at a price for every sized congregation, our trained, professional counselors are available to every Partner Church.

Average professional counseling fees range from $125.00 to $175.00 per session. By partnering with the local church, counseling sessions for church members can be as low as $35 per session.

If you look at the chronological order of creation in scripture here is what you will find:

God created and ordained Family, God created and ordained Church, God created and ordained Government. So goes the family, so goes the church, so goes an entire country.

Government is not going to fix family, it’s up to the family (God’s smallest battle formation) to be strong then we will have strong churches, strong communities, and a strong nation.

In an effort to offer these services to all sized congregations, all five of the above components (including access to professional counselors for all of your members and training for you Marriage Ministry Leaders) our Church Partnership Programs are offered at the suggested sliding fee scale

Weekly Attendance                                                                              Number Monthly Donation
Less than 500                                                                                                 $500.00
501-1000                                                                                                         $750.00
Over 1000                                                                                                       $1000.00

May Almighty God Bless and Sanctify this initiative. For more information or to schedule an individual meeting call or text Jim Adams at 601-624-6167 or email jimandteresa@FamilyMattersFirst.org

The Family Matters First Marriage Covenant

Our responsibility as leaders in our respective communities is to promote lasting marriages in order to help establish spiritually healthy families. Since an overwhelming majority of marriages in our community are performed by clergy, we are in a unique position to dramatically and positively impact the marriages and families in our community.

We are deeply troubled by our country’s epidemic of marital instability and divorce and believe solutions can only be found in the word of our God the creator of Marriage. We believe this issue must be directly addressed by the faith community. Our purpose is to enrich marriages and to significantly reduce the divorce rate in the _____________ area congregations, one family at a time.

We believe scripture chronicles the divine creation and ordination of first Family, then Church, and then Government. So goes the Family, so goes the Church, so goes the Government, so goes an entire Nation.

We accept, as clergy, the responsibility to raise the level of commitment in those we marry and those married couples who look to us for spiritual instruction. We believe that couples who seriously participate in premarital education and counseling will have a better understanding of what marriage involves. We believe that an increased commitment to marriage preparation will result in the reduction of failed and failing marriages.

We Also Believe:

  • That God has established in scripture the sanctity and companionship of marriage;
  • That God intends the marriage bond between husband and wife to last a lifetime;
  • That as church leaders we have a responsibility to provide premarital preparation to every engaged couple. This will improve their understanding of marriage and deepen their mutual commitment;
  • That as clergy we have a responsibility to provide ongoing support to strengthen and nourish existing marriages.

Therefore, as agents of God, acting on His behalf, it is our responsibility to encourage couples to set aside time for marriage preparation. We acknowledge that a wedding is but a day, while a marriage is for a lifetime.

The idea that couples will spend thousands of dollars on a wedding, which last a day, with little to no investment in the actual marriage, which is designed to last a lifetime, must be reformed.

What God has joined together, let the faith community of the ________________ seek to hold together.
Therefore:

  • We will normally require a minimum of 12 sessions of marriage preparation.
  • We will require utilizing a premarital inventory such as PREPARE/ENRICH.
  • We will train mature, married couples to serve as mentors and provide lay leadership to engaged couples, newlyweds, or those experiencing marital difficulties.
  • We will create a support system of couples whose marriages have successfully weathered life’s challenges to assist with troubled marriages.
  • We will seek to establish support systems for blended families.
  • We will cooperate with other congregations and organizations to share resources and create a positive climate in which marriages are helped to succeed.
  • We will encourage retreats, classes, and marriage enrichment opportunities designed to build and strengthen marriages
  • We will work to develop and implement programs for troubled marriages using counseling, retreats, and mentoring.
  • We will promote sexual abstinence outside of marriage
  • We will promote faithful marital relationships
  • We will set an example as pastors by attending couples’ retreats and being involved in other relationship enrichment activities
  • We will vigorously defend the institution of marriage as a union between one man and one woman only
  • We will take this covenant back to our church to be ratified by the appropriate church leadership.

Covenant

I commit to seek the endorsement of these minimum standards by my congregation and to encourage others to do so, for the Glory of God and the good of our whole community.
Name____________________________
Church ___________________________

Date _______________________

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