'Let Truth Be the Foundation of More Young Families'— Marriage Ministry in a Central China Church

A young couple
A young couple (photo: pixabay.com)
By Thomas ZhangFebruary 5th, 2024

This story recounts how a church located in a new first-tier city walked out of its boundary to merge with the bigger society and brought the truth into the families of more young people.

“Presently, the ministry of our church mostly targets the spiritual needs of believers." When asked about the original intention of the church to carry out marriage and family ministry, Pastor W, a young man from Church B in the Xiaoxiang area (the area around the Xiaoxiang River in China, which includes parts of Hunan and Hubei provinces), replied, “Now, no matter if it is in the church or society, marriage and family problems of young people are more apparent. We have always been burdened with this concern, and we thus started the ministry.”

The church is located in the provincial capital city, which has been newly ranked first-tier due to the rise of its cultural tourism sector. The large-scale influx of young people brings not only a youthful atmosphere to the city but also more vitality to many local churches, including Church B. However, unlike churches that only focus on the marriage counseling of young and believing members, Church B, which focuses on unity, has a bigger vision.

“Now marriage and family are not only a problem in the church but also a common social problem.” In the young pastor’s view, if the ministry of marriage and family is to bring practical training to more souls, the church must walk out of its institutional boundaries to join hands with the bigger society and open a wider channel for the dissemination of words of the truth. “Therefore, the ministry of marriage and love in our church is open to the public. It does not matter whether the young people are believers or not; as long as they are preparing for their marriage and on their honeymoon, they can come and participate in the counseling.”

At the end of 2022, a series of marriage growth courses was put on Church B’s agenda, and they were entitled “Building a Family in Truth.”

In the curriculum, instructors with professional qualifications in marriage counseling mainly focus on marriage counseling, relationship shaping, and psychological counseling. Pastor W mainly checks the foundation of the truth and integrates theological perspectives to provide marriage guidance for young friends.

“At present, the course has a total of nine themes containing 41 modules, which start every Saturday night.” Pastor W introduced that the course focuses on nine themes: clarifying concepts, understanding instructions, establishing relationships, developing relationships, ending relationships, awaiting true love, evaluating marriage, coping with the fear of marriage, and handling remarriage. It involves many aspects that young people will experience, from affairs of pre-marriage, love, and newlyweds to post-marriage. “There will be speaker sharing and group interaction in each class; for young friends with special counseling needs, we have also prepared case talks to help them solve practical problems.”

Although at present, the accompanying talk and counseling work mainly depends on the speakers, Pastor W said that in the next year, the church will call for the establishment of a marriage and family counseling team among married believers to better provide personalized marriage and relationship counseling for single young people.

“We will invite professional lecturers to provide a one-year training course for marriage counselors. It is mainly based on biblical principles, combined with psychology and marriage and family counseling theory for training.” He added, “The first batch plans to recruit 25 to 30 trainees, and by the end of November, 16 believers will have signed up to receive the training.”

Currently, the course of marriage and family has been officially launched for more than a few months, and some problems are encountered, such as the conflict between biblical and worldly values and the limited acceptance of non-believers. However, in Pastor W's opinion, the actual benefit that the ministry has brought is much greater than the setback. “Now, the number of people participating in the course every week has increased steadily. After several courses, many single students have established a correct conception of marriage and family, which has strengthened our confidence in persistence.” He said, “Now, we are constantly optimizing the curriculum in combination with everyone’s feedback, but in any case, our purpose of building a family in truth will not change.”

For the future development of the ministry, Pastor W hoped that every young believer’s family could be built on truth and become a solid cornerstone in the church. On the other hand, he expected the marriage ministry to unite with the local communities and become a purely public welfare ministry independent of the church.

“I hope to help more local school-age young people and families, solve their difficulties in marriage and family, and let our church play its due role in society.”

- Translated by Charlie Li

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