Thursday, November 26, 2020
Written by Alan Vink
Categories: Pastors Blog
Tags: Ministry Practice
Last week Jeanette and I did a short roadie. Along the way we visited a few friends. Among them were two couples I married back in the mid 80’s. They are only 7-10 years younger than us and one of the wives was on staff as our Children’s Leader at the time of her wedding. We reminisced about the good old days.
Both couples, without any prompt from me, talked light heartedly about ‘Alan and Jeanette’s four sessions’ back in the day. It was hilarious and heart warming at the same time.
The four sessions was something I required engaged couples to do. Though not compulsory it was expected………if you know what I mean. In the early years, Jeanette and I did them ourselves and always together. Close on 50% of our church were single young adults. In my first six years as Pastor at Miramar Baptist Church I officiated at more weddings then the next 17 years put together. It was a busy time.
Here were the topics:-
- Hopes and Aspirations
- Communication and conflict resolution
Throughout our time together we also touched upon roles, children, decision making and prayer. All sessions included some biblical reflection and all couples were required to read the same book which I gave them.
Needless to say, session 4 became known around our church as ‘the session of all sessions’ and it seemed that even the folks who had never experienced our sessions knew about session 4. In fact even folks outside our church knew about it. It seemed to have a life of its own. This is partly because Jeanette and I decided to traverse the sexual relationship talk head on - candidly, honestly but with sensitivity. We believed it was no point talking about sex in marriage if it wasn’t approached in a ‘gutsy’ manner. I remember always feeling nervous before session 4. Fast forward to last week while enjoying dinner with our two sets of friends all these years later, they couldn’t wait reminding us about that. Sigh!
I am sharing all this because I so believe in good and thorough marriage preparation, more so these days then ever before. Sometimes it is referred to as premarital counselling and when done well can help set up a couple for marital success (and minimise disappointments and grief).
Premarital counselling helps couples improve their ability to communicate, set realistic expectations for marriage and develop conflict-resolution skills. In addition, premarital counselling can help couples establish a positive attitude about seeking help down the road.
Keep in mind that every man and women bring their own values, opinions and history into a relationship, and they might not always match their partner's. For example, family systems and Christian beliefs can vary greatly. Many couples have experienced very different upbringings with different role models for relationships and marriage. Many people go into marriage believing it will fulfil their social, financial, sexual and emotional needs — and that's not always the case. By discussing differences and expectations before marriage, the couple can better understand and support each other during marriage.
So Pastor, what are you doing in this space these days? Do you have a marriage preparation curriculum? Do you have a supply of a good book that you can give to a couple wanting to get married? Are you familiar with ‘Prepare and Enrich’ and do you know about an organisation called ‘Family Life’? Both of which I would highly recommend.
Our young couples (and older couples for that matter) deserve this and the local church is a fabulous place for people to be taught, mentored and helped with the most important and valuable relationship on planet earth.
P.S. Thank you so much to all those who gave LeadershipWorx a donation over the last few weeks. It means a lot to me.
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.