Why We Need More Marriage Ministry and Less Children's Ministry

The most important factor in a child's spiritual life is his or her parents.  No one has more influence.  The time a child will spend in Children's Ministry is a small fraction compared to the time the child will spend with his or her parents.  

We don't need more Children's Ministry...we need more Marriage Ministry.  As the marriage goes...so goes the family.  As the marriage goes...so goes the child's primary spiritual influence.

Look at the stats of a recent report...
  • Taxpayers are spending a trillion dollars a year to subsidize non-marriage — 75 percent federal and 25 percent by states.  As Ronald Reagan once said, "If you subsidize something, you will get more of it."
  • America has subsidized cohabitation.  Result: it soared 17-fold from 430,000 in 1960 to 7.5 million last year.
  • Marriage rates have plunged in half.
  • 41 percent of U.S. births are out of wedlock (mostly to cohabiting couples). 
  • 50% of marriages end in divorce.
  • Divorce has devastating effects on families financially.  Over 45 years, poverty levels for married families have been only five percent to seven percent, while that of unmarried individuals is 5-6 times higher.  
What can we do to help marriages?

We must do a better job up front of equipping couples we marry.  Churches marry 86% of Americans...but I am afraid we fail them many times.  Protestant divorce rates are actually higher than the unchurched.  We must focus on pre-marital counseling at a new level.  We must provide the skills they need for success going into the marriage.

Provide hope and strategies for couples who are having trouble.  Recent research reports that about 60 percent of divorces are by couples who are no more unhappy than those who remain married and have “low levels of conflict.”  Over 2,500 couples were surveyed and found that 40% of those well into the divorce process, say that "one or both of them are interested in the possibility of reconciliation."

A "Second Chances Act" has been proposed that would set a one year "cooling off” period before a divorce can become final.  It would also encourage spouses to send their mates an “early notification and divorce prevention letter,” warning that a divorce was likely if problems were not resolved.  The proposal would also require parents of minor children to attend divorce education classes before they can file for divorce.  This would allow churches more time and opportunities to provide help with counseling and reconciliation.

Teach about and hold high the sanctity of marriage.  With the number of cohabiting parents rising rapidly, we must continue to speak the truth in love.  We must meet cohabiting parents where they are and call them up to God's plan for the family.

Spend as much time focusing on parents as we do children.
  We have to shift much of our time, energy, and resources toward partnering with adult ministries... toward discipling parents...toward equipping parents...toward helping parents have strong marriages.

If we want to see children's lives changed...then we have to see their parents' lives and marriages changed.  What happens at home is just as important, if not more important, than what happens at church.

Posted by Dale Hudson