I am glad that you want to start a marriage ministry at your church. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God, but one that we must steward well if it’s going to be the blessing He intended.
The Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage (GCM) curriculum is intended to help a couple learn more about one another and how to be a good steward of their marriage by providing a series of studies that can be facilitated in a mentoring relationship.
Couples can study each of the GCM seminars by themselves, but in all honesty, the mentoring relationship formed – and the humble authenticity that emerges from it – will likely have a greater impact than the content learned.
Principle – the people we make ourselves known to usually have a bigger impact on our lives than the content we master.
As you think about mentoring a couple or starting a mentoring ministry at your church, it would be helpful for you to know these three levels of formality in which you could use the GCM curriculum.
1. In-Depth Marriage Study
Using the Curriculum Like an In-Depth Book Study
Level of Training: No advanced training is needed. You choose a subject in the GCM curriculum and study it with the couple(s) you mentor. The mentor or group facilitator is learning at the same time and pace as the mentees.
Style of Interaction: You study the material – which is available in a written, audio, or video format – as the mentees study the material. When you meet in person you discuss ways you were encouraged, insights you gained, and opportunities for growth.
Ongoing Relationship: In this most informal pattern, the ongoing interaction will be determined by the quality of friendship and shared life contexts that emerge from the study.
2. Marriage Overview Mentor
Overviewing 5 Key Areas of Marriage over 6 Months
Level of Training: A mentor completes the 90 minute GCM overview training which provides an overview of the content in each GCM seminar and guidance on how to use the 3 evaluations in each seminar to identify the content that will best serve each mentee couple.
Style of Interaction: When using this approach a mentor couple commits to a minimum of 6 meetings that occur about once per month. The first meeting seeks to accomplish two things: (a) the couples getting to know each other, and (b) setting up the pattern for the subsequent meetings:
Before Meeting: The mentee couple (a) does homework from the GCM series that was assigned at the previous meeting, and (b) completes three evaluations from next GCM seminar to determine what topics will be discussed next.
During Meeting: The mentors and mentees spend most of their time (a) discussing ways they were encouraged, insights gained, or opportunities for growth, and in the last 5-10 mintues of their meeting (b) review results from three evaluations to determine which section of the next GCM seminar would be most profitable to study together.
Ongoing Relationship: Your desire is that as you build a quality relationship that sets up ongoing, informal mentoring and that the GCM evaluations provide you with an overall assessment of the strengths-weakness of their relationship to increase the quality of this mentoring.
3. Marriage Ministry Catalyzer
Creating a Formal, Ongoing Ministry Your Church Promotes
Level of Training: If you move to this third level, the main difference is that you are now recruiting and training “level two: marriage overview mentors” who will serve more couples than you could serve personally. The biblical counseling certificate program through Southeastern Seminary is intended to equip you for this larger role as a catalyzer-overseer of a lay counseling ministry.
Style of Interaction: Your time commitment will be spent between couples you mentor and investing in the other mentor couples leading the ministry. For your enjoyment, you should still be mentoring couples. Don’t lose what made you fall in love with the ministry. But, in order for the ministry to thrive, you will need to invest time recruiting-developing leaders and raising awareness of the ministry within your church or community.
Ongoing Relationship: As you step into the catalyzer role and the ministry grows, your ministry contact will increasingly be with leaders more than young couples. Make sure this is a good fit for your passion and gifting. If not, begin early to pray and look for a couple with administrative and leadership development gifts to step into the catalyzer role for this ministry. The ministry will flourish when the mentors in the ministry are flourishing.