Healthy marriage must be the goal of any Marriage-Building Parish. It needs to be a stated priority to build a culture of confidence and courage that bears witness to the truth and beauty of marriage in all areas of parish life. As a parish makes these efforts, offers support and practical assistance for marriage to flourish both in society and in the church.
It’s important that we preach loudly the riches of marriage and family in the life of the parish. This is true not only from the pulpit, but in how decisions are made in the care for marriages and family life. Having a vital Marriage Ministry is one we’ve spent considerable time here exploring.
Another is how a parish allocates money and other resources to promote healthy marriage and implementing the Eight Building Blocks of a Marriage-Building Parish. We’ve often thought, while we are working hard at our marriage and teaching our children about the value of marriage and family, there’s someone out there raising the person one of our children will choose to marry. And that’s significant. It makes us want to succeed in becoming a Marriage-Building Church!
Creating a Culture involves the visible signs that healthy marriage is a priority. Posters, banners and other ideas can acknowledge a parishes desire to communicate effectively the value it places on marriage and family.
Marriage-Building Sundays and something as simple as an Anniversary Card says your marriage is important to us. Marriage messages in the bulletin or parish newsletter reminds and encourages parishioners to work at their marriages and to care about the other marriages in the church.
So, now that you have a desire to create a Culture of Marriage, a Marriage Ministry Team, and a Marriage Ministry event or class, how best can you get the folks to join you? Marketing your Marriage Ministry efforts are essential to ensure marriages improve and that you have full participation from the parish community.
- A plan for MarriageCare is in place for couples who come to us during a difficult time.
- Couple struggling with infertility, or when going through the adoption process, are supported and given guidance.
- Bereavement care is available for those who lost a spouse.
- Couples are supported when experiencing the loss of a child.
- Pastoral staff has intervention skills to help with initial care for struggling marriages.
- Give people something to look at. Create a marketing strategy that includes print and online pieces to promote all your efforts including a culture of marriage, itself. People are inundated with many different messages vying for their attention. A creative brochure, a poster, an electronic image can inform, remind, and persuade couples to make healthy marriage a priority and to encourage their participation in a Marriage Ministry class or event. Some are available from MarriageBuilding USA. The publisher of the class may have created material for your use. Others might be created from a talented member of your team. Take the time to make them look professional.
- Never underestimate the power of a search. Promote your Marriage Ministry and Relationship and Marriage Education classes online through the church’s website. Don’t forget to add ads on the church’s Facebook Page and other online social networks. Another way to advertise the classes is through your diocesan media, and at livethelife.com.
- A personal invitation can go a long way. Get in front of as many people as possible at the church (after Mass, Religious Education classes, Parish school, small groups, etc.) and in the community with information about Marriage Education and the classes the church offers. Make a personal invitation for the audience to invest in their own marriages and attend the class. Encourage small group leaders to form their own group by inviting couples and family members they know.
- Spread the word through others. Word of mouth is always the best form of advertisement.Encourage couples who attended a Relationship and Marriage Education class to let others know about their experiences and how their marriage improved. They can tell friends and family through word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter, their blog, and text. Give couples an opportunity to share in front of the congregation.
- Marriage messages should appear regularly in the parish bulletin, newsletters and website.