It is no secret that marriages are struggling. It is also no secret that marriages are struggling even within local churches. This is not surprising. Marriage is the union of two sinners. Marriage does not come natural and they need healthy communities in order to thrive. They also need the gospel. With our increasingly fragmented cultures and the continual watering down of the gospel it is not shocking that marriage is falling on hard times.
In response to this trend our church decided to begin having frequent marriage retreats. One of the core values of our church is to be a gospel-saturated community. One area in which this is lived out is in equipping families. We believe that in order for marriages to thrive they need a robust gospel and to live life in a community informed by that gospel. Therefore, our marriage retreats seek to strengthen marriages by rooting marriages in the gospel and building a community saturated by the gospel.
Our goal is to have one marriage retreat every quarter. These are not meant to be large groups. In fact we cap off our attendance at 10 couples per quarter (including the lead pastor and myself). Every quarter one of our deacons will go with his wife. He will also invite another leader that he has been actively training and discipling. This leaves six open slots. Our deacon picks two families from his deacon family list to invite to the retreat. This leaves four slots. We leave these open to the church on a first come first serve basis.
We keep the cost at only $100 per couple. This covers the cost of most of their food and their room at the Highland Lakes Camp. We leave on Friday evening and return back to our homes on Sunday afternoon.
During the weekend we have four teaching sessions, group time, tons of free time, and worship time. Part of our goal is to encourage our leaders to step up and minister to these couples. We also want this to be an avenue for new leaders to emerge (those that our established leaders have been discipling). We also believe that this time away will build relationships between many couples in our church.
This is one of the most important things that we do as a church. It gives us an entire weekend to teach a robust gospel and to create and cultivate gospel-saturated communities. As marriages are strengthened so is our local church and community.
Tomorrow morning I will explain why our sessions are not “practical”…