By Helen Gibson
Here are practical strategies, both reactive and proactive, for churches to fight adultery and build healthy marriages in their congregations from Josh Straub, marriage and family strategist for Lifeway.
Build an emergency response team
As a reactive measure, build a team that can provide immediate support to couples affected by an extramarital affair. Straub says it’s important to have a response planned before adultery happens.
He suggests starting a ministry that can respond to marriage crises quickly and effectively through counseling for everyone involved.
This kind of support tends to be most effective coming from couples who have been successful at redeeming their own marriages, Straub says.
Preach on marriage
Stressing the importance of marriage through sermons can be beneficial for any church, Straub says. When he was an executive pastor, his church had regular sermons addressing marriage.
“Every month there was a sermon message on marriage in some capacity to build the marriages in the church—because it’s the foundation of the family,” Straub says. “And usually, as goes the marriages, so goes the spiritual direction of the home.”
Straub recommends “championing” young couples in the church both before and after they recite their marriage vows. He says it’s important that engaged couples go through premarital counseling, but it shouldn’t stop there.
After couples tie the knot, Straub says, it can be helpful for them to participate in a marriage mentorship in the church, where an older couple comes alongside of them.
Host date nights
“People want healthy marriages,” Straub says. “But the place marital satisfaction really tends to dip is with young couples who just had kids.”
To address this, Straub encourages regularly held, church-sponsored date nights. The church provides the childcare so couples can drop off their children and spend time together.
If a church is too small for date nights, Straub recommends couples taking turns watching one another’s children, so the couples can go on dates.
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HELEN GIBSON (@_HelenGibson_), a senior at Western Kentucky University, served as an intern on the Facts & Trends team during summer 2017.