The divorce rate gets worse all the time. Who can turn the tide? In my opinion, churches can. Their mission is to minister to those who need Christ and what better place to make this happen than within the home? Is your church doing what it can or could it be doing more? What ministries do they support to help not only their families but also families within the community that they could reach with aid? Many churches want to spread the gospel and they should, but if families are breaking apart, there will be fewer and fewer families to reach. Basically, they will not listen about salvation if they cannot get along at the dinner table.
“A preliminary report entitled The Costly Consequences of Divorce in Utah: The Impact on Couples, Community and Government, indicates divorce and its direct and indirect economic consequences costs the United States 33.3 billion per year or $312 per household in the country. It is estimated that the average divorce costs state and federal governments $30,000 in direct and indirect costs (Direct costs include – child support enforcement, healthcare costs, food stamps, public housing etc. Indirect costs include – legal fees, lost work productivity, correctional facilities, unwed childbearing, dealing with drug problems, delinquency, criminality and other social problems linked to divorce). Given this information, the cost to the state of Tennessee, looking at Census 2000 data, is more than $1 billion annually.” (SOURCE: www.firstthings.org)
There is a war for our souls and the war is fought in our homes. It is not fought in the plush-carpeted auditoriums or spacious hallways of our ever-expanding church buildings. No, instead it is fought in the minds of our boys who have no spiritual guidance at home because dad left. This war is fought between husband and wife because she caught him viewing pornography again. The war is fought over the women of the house because they are trying to keep things together and are running out of options. Satan lets your members walk in your doors, but he is always there waiting when they walk out. What can you do as a church to help marriages and families?
First, regular family workshops are a must. These can give your families the shot in the arm they need on topics like parenting and how to keep their relationship fresh. The Association of Marriage and Family Ministries is a good place to start or visit the website for First Things First, a community organization in Chattanooga that has done wonders for their area. The National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education is another fine resource. They just recently had their annual conference.
Second, your preacher needs to present regular lessons on the home. He should be reading reputable authors on the matter and should of course be studying what scripture has to say about it. Your view of divorce and marriage should be taught and well understood in order to offer direction to those who have none.
Finally, if your minister is not a trained counselor, he should have a referral base to send those who come to him with issues beyond what he can handle. You should not disarm a bomb unless you have been trained to do so. Prayer can accomplish much but denying someone the help they need does a great deal of harm. In addition, encourage your couples to seek counseling when necessary. We go to the dentist when our teeth hurt and the doctor when we have a sinus infection. Why would we not go to a therapist to help our relationship; the very thing that can help us live a long and healthy life? Our homes are modeled after Christ and his relationship with the bride, the church. So, it is a natural spot for ministry to take place.
Form a relationship with an agency or a local counselor and see to it that your members get the help they need by supplementing the fees. It is simple to do. Talk to the counselor about how they handle situations that concern you. What is their stance on divorce? What is their belief in God? This can be one of your most critical ministries. Even offering free office space to a counselor can do wonders.
If you want more people to enter your doors, you should work on keeping them together. The money you invest here will save loads in the long run. You may say that your families are all strong and this type of ministry is not needed. Here is why this is faulty logic. 1) People, when they are hurting, like to put on a show as though everything is OK. Sadly, this is not always the case. 2) If you are only helping those within your walls, you must ask yourself if you are really going about the mission that Christ has set you on.