A Covenant Marriage Congregation is a congregation that commits to providing a ministry to married couples who are members of their congregation or who are planning to be married within their congregation based on the Covenant Marriage Statement of Affirmation.
“Believing that marriage is a covenant intended by God to be a lifelong, fruitful relationship between a man and a woman; we vow to God, each other, our family, and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation, and sexual purity while purposefully growing in our covenant marriage relationship.”
What is the church’s responsibility?
When a married couple unites with the congregation, the congregation is entering into a covenant relationship with the couple and their family. That covenant, initiated by the congregation, is one that comes from God and is lived through the local body of Christ. Therefore, each local congregation, in obedience to the covenant given to them by God, has the responsibility to love that couple “as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.” Not only are God’s people to be keepers of the covenant, but participants as well.
When a couple comes to be united in holy matrimony, it is the congregation’s responsibility to help them examine their hearts to confirm and affirm that which God desires for them in this union. Therefore, each couple to be married in a congregation needs to spend time in marriage preparation. This preparation focuses on God’s gift of marriage, the centrality of Christ in the home, and the couple’s responsibility of obedience to God who is the giver of the covenant.
How can the church help with Marriage Preparation?
- A study of Scripture related to marriage and the covenant.
- Administration of a marriage preparation inventory, such as FOCCUS, to help couples identify and discuss relationship strengths and growth areas that may need to be addressed prior to marriage.
- At least six sessions with an authorized marriage preparation couple or minister of the organization.
- A commitment to unite with a “newly-married” or young-married couples’ class whose focus is on enriching or enhancing God’s gift of marriage.
As a covenant marriage congregation, will you offer the ministries to couples in your congregation and community?
Not all congregations are alike, nor do they have the same resources. Many have only one staff person. But some of the most valuable time spent in the ministry will be with couples preparing for, and living in, a covenant marriage relationship. In addition to what you can do, we encourage you to equip lay couples to assist you in carrying out these recommendations.
Actions You Can Take:
- As a congregation, establish and affirm an intentional marriage policy. This policy must focus on the couple, their relationship, and the congregation’s commitment to their marriage.
- Provide at least six marriage preparation sessions, and provide two follow-up sessions during the first year of marriage.
- Provide an annual sermon series on relationships, marriage, and family. The focus on these messages should be on biblical teachings and life applications for establishing and enhancing relationships, building strong families, and growing as Christian families. They should also provide a biblical understanding of “Covenant” and how it applies to marriage and family.
- Provide media resources such as books, magazines, tapes, videos, and interactive learning resources. These resources can be checked out and/or purchased.
- Provide at least one biannual marriage enrichment retreat. This should be an overnight experience for couples only. Focus on relationship enhancement, skill development, and spiritual renewal.
- Pair up newly married couples with older covenant couples for the purpose of providing guidance for a period of two years.
- Provide at least one annual Covenant Marriage Commitment service where couples have an opportunity to publicly affirm their marriage as a covenant relationship. We recommend the third Sunday in February.
For those who are still interested in celebrating covenant marriage by raising the banner of covenant marriage, please feel free to download this Covenant Marriage Affirmation Ceremony with Celebration Suggestions. It’s never too late. Any Sunday is a good Sunday to celebrate covenant marriage. All of our resources are undated and can be used at any time.