Guest post by Gary J.Oliver
Given the significance God places on healthy relationships, a logical question is, What is the role of the church in building strong marriages and families? One vital life sign of a healthy church is the health of its marriages and families.
If truth doesn’t work inside of the home, why are we surprised it doesn’t work outside of the home? If we can’t help two people to function biblically in their marriages, how can we expect those same two people plus their children to function biblically as a family? If they aren’t functioning biblically as a family, how can we expect them to come to church on Sunday morning with hundreds of other families and magically function as the Body that God designed? If it’s not happening with individual couples and families, it’s virtually impossible that it will happen when the corporate body meets.
The church has been called to be a lighthouse, the source of solutions for what ails a lost and dying society. Developing a comprehensive family ministry is one of the most effective means of helping our people learn what it means to “become conformed to the image of his son” (Romans 8:29) and of outreach into our communities.
A strong marriage and family ministry serves as salt and light in a world characterized by confused, disoriented, and disintegrating families. It says that truth works, truth makes a difference. By offering tools, resources, support groups, and programs it also says that we care about our community.
People are beginning to realize that the world’s solutions haven’t worked and are once again looking to the church. Charles Sell writes, “When people make enough of a mess out of their lives and when the chosen answers in a society are seen not to work, portions of that society begin asking the ‘God’ questions once again.”4
The church has a unique opportunity to impact the entire family as it moves through the various stages of life. People turn to the church during significant life events such as baby dedications, baptisms, marriages, and death. Ministers perform approximately 75 percent of marriages in the U.S., and over 60 percent of Americans prefer to see clergy about personal problems. The most frequently presented problem is marital difficulty.