What Pastors Are Saying
Dr. Gary Chapman, Pastor, Author of The Five Love Languages:
If you are a pastor, I know that you feel the pain when you see couples in your congregation divorce, and all of us have experienced that. A few years ago, I met Alan and Autumn Ray; they started a ministry called MarriageTeam in which they train lay couples to be marriages coaches. They will take couples in your church and every church has at least one couple who has a passion for marriage, and they will train them so that they come back and you have someone that you can refer couples to who are struggling. 94% of those couples who go to their coaches find real help and turn away from divorce. I want to challenge you to check it out. I think you will find this to be a great partner for you and your ministry.
Kevin Palau, President, Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, Portland, Oregon:
MarriageTeam is a participant in the Marketplace Coalition of the NW and I am familiar with their marriage-coaching ministry. It is definitely worth checking out if you are considering creating a lay couple marriage ministry.
Don Hallworth, Pastor, Journey Church, Bend, OR
Having now gone through the training provided by MarriageTeam, my wife and I were very impressed with the structure and approach of this ministry. I think the part that was most encouraging for both of us was the vision to equip “lay couples” to serve marriages in the local church. What a great way to release Christian marriages in our church to serve one another.
I think most of us would agree that one of the most discouraging parts of church ministry is seeing marriages and families break up. As pastors we dive into those messes and try to bring perspective and truth to situations that usually are on life support. We make these efforts in the midst of schedule challenges that can honestly put pressure on our own families. If that’s not enough, we often question the effectiveness of our marriage counseling efforts altogether. There are several components of this training that lean heavily on Biblical principles that I believe help create the success that this ministry has enjoyed. I thought I would share a few of those strengths with you from my perspective:
- “Sanctity of Marriage” – Rather than the coaching couple sharing their success and giving advice, the emphasis of coaching is to build within the marriage that is in trouble. There is a real emphasis upon the mystery of what God has joined together. Mark 10:9 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And Ephesians 5:31…and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This mystery is profound. MarriageTeam is structured to get the troubled couple working through things together – communication, bitterness and forgiveness. There is something deeply God honoring by holding up the sanctity of this marriage working together no matter how broken it may be.
- Paul’s “One another’s” and Hebrews 10 – “Spurring one another on” – The Apostle Paul uses the phrase “one another” over and over again in his letters as a way of showing how fellow believers play a vital role in each other’s spiritual life and growth. We are to encourage one another, admonish one another, confess to one another, bear one another’s burdens. When a marriage in trouble begins to experience another couple (with their own imperfections) pouring their time and genuine care into the hurting couples marriage, I believe they deeply experience the power of “one another” ministry and they are genuinely “spurred on.”
- The Power of the Holy Spirit – I think the part of MarriageTeam that has been most profound to me is the emphasis on what we do and what God does. When two couples spend consistent time together at a kitchen table, working through real life issues and holding up the value of this marriage regardless of how troubled it may be, there is an incredible opportunity for the power of the Holy Spirit to enter the room. I deeply appreciate that there is a recognition that the exercises and discussions are merely tools for God to do something enduring in this broken marriage.
- Equipping – Ultimately as Pastors we are the equippers that Ephesians 4:11 speaks of in our churches. We endeavor to equip the flock for works of service. The MarriageTeam ministry is the best tool I’ve seen to release couples in our churches to be trained to help facilitate stronger marriages. Through significant training weekends, ongoing support mechanisms and well written communication tools, you can have great confidence that hurting marriages in your church will receive Biblically rooted help.
I have never experienced such a practical resource to strengthen marriages as the program that MarriageTeam offers. I encourage you to find out more about how this ministry can help you build marriage strength in your local church.
Ed Wilgus, Senior Pastor, Sutherlin Family Church, Sutherlin, OR:
Our church participated in Marriage Team coaches training in January 2012. This was an experiment as we didn’t know much about Marriage Team before attending the training. I was delighted to see how quickly the information that Al and Autumn were sharing was impacting my own marriage. Robynne and I felt we were good communicators and problem solvers and yet had been stuck for several years unable to overcome some major challenges. We had read books, attended conferences and yet still were unable to work through these challenges. In the first few hours of training, we learned some new communication skills that have helped us discover new breakthroughs in our marriage. Other couples who attended with us also experienced similar breakthroughs.
We have several coaching couples in our church now because of the recent training in January. One new coaching couple experienced some major challenges with the couple they were coaching. They contacted the Marriage Team office and it was quick to respond to the need and was able to direct the new coaches to successfully work through the challenges. By the way, the couple they were coaching was separated when they began MarriageTeam Coaching. Today they are days away from completing their coaching and are back together under the same roof and experiencing renewed relationship.
As a pastor, I have found MT to be a great resource not only in helping me direct our coaches but also in providing information as a marriage specialist. MT has recommended books and other resources that have helped in my understanding and ability to help grow healthy marriages. I have great hope today for the marriages in our church because of our relationship with MarriageTeam.
We are so excited about the results that our MT coaches are having, we are planning a training this fall for new coaches to be trained. I am excited to finally have a coaching system that allows lay people the opportunity to rescue hurting marriages and to have coaching couples who I can, with confidence, hand off hurting marriages to knowing that this process gives this couple the best chance that I am aware of for marriage success.
Charlie Granade, Senior Pastor, Ridgeview Bible Church, Chadron, Nebraska:
As the senior pastor of a church with many young couples, the amount of premarital counseling and crises counseling is daunting. However, Marriage Team has allowed me to rise up and develop a team of lay people to come along side me in this process. As a result, I can spend my time on other important things such as vision, leadership development, etc., while empowering the body to do what it has been called to do. Because of what the Lord has done through our marriage coaching ministry, our church has already seen two couples go from being separated to having wonderful marriages and one couple transform from being freshly divorced to being remarried. Just three weeks ago, I did a marriage vow renewal ceremony for a couple whose lives were transformed from God using the coaching process developed by Marriage Team. Considering the real costs of couples getting divorced (in terms of lives being destroyed, decreases in church giving, etc.), how could a church afford not to rise up an army of marriage coaches?
We have greatly appreciated the ministry of MarriageTeam. We recently had three couples complete coach couple training. Almost immediately MarriageTeam was able to facilitate good matches with couples seeking help so that the coaches have had a very positive coaching experience. This effective linking of new coaches to couples seeking help, also helps to ensure that the MarriageTeam training they had received is reinforced in praxis and does not just atrophy after the training. MarriageTeam has helped us as a church to better serve our community with a very genuine marriage outreach. Their marriage coaching model also helps us link older and younger couples together so that we can open up opportunities for intergenerational connection and blessing within our church family.
Dr. Mike Wilde, Senior Pastor, Laurelwood Baptist Church, Vancouver, Washington:
I heartily recommend MarriageTeam’s coaches training and ministry model to other pastors and churches. The effectiveness of MarriageTeam has opened up new ministry opportunities to members of our church and freed our pastors to devote more of our time to other ministry needs. I anticipate sending three more couples to MarriageTeam’s training in the near future to strengthen our ability to serve both our church and community families.
I recommend, in the strongest way possible, the Marriage Team ministry that was “birthed” out of our church. The founders had a vision of helping couples have healthy marriages. I know what pastors say, and I can tell you that Marriage Team is the “real deal.”
In the many years that we have worked together, I have seen real miracles. I think of the testimony of one of our youth who thanked God and the congregation for saving his family and I know it was due to the work MarriageTeam did with his parents. MarriageTeam is a real blessing and saves me a considerable amount of time that I can devote to the other pressing ministries.
Finally, I have seen MarriageTeam equip several of the couples in our congregation for active ministries in serving families as a witness for Christ. I have heard from them how they have not only been a blessing to others but how their marriages have improved as well. MarriageTeam is really an expression of what every church should be doing, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ,” Ephesians 4:12.
Bob Carlson, Senior Pastor, Brush Prairie Baptist Church, Vancouver, Washington:
I have personally come to rely on their [MarriageTeam] insights and our marriage ministry has greatly benefited from their skills and advice. I have heard nothing but highly positive comments and testimonials of the wonderful relationship building that MarriageTeam does including the unsolicited testimony of a teenage son who thanked the church [MarriageTeam] for “giving me my family back.” Their focused efforts have helped us equip our people to do the work of ministry in this important area of building families.
Chris Caudle, Family Pastor, Grace Foursquare, Camas, Washington:
Going through MarriageTeam coaching with my wife has really saved our marriage in the sense of wanting to truly understand each other. We are very thankful there is a ministry that is so specific to helping marriages with a return that is exponential. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the best, I would give it an 11!
Warren Higley, Red Sea Church, Portland, Oregon:
The feedback I have received has been very positive…Thanks again for the support. It has been a huge relief for me as a single pastor to have your organization provide what I cannot.
Dennis Blevins, Executive Pastor, Greater Portland Bible Church, Portland, Oregon:
After experiencing MarriageTeam coach training with couples in our church, I invited Al and Autumn to lead a weekend retreat with my Navigator Team. Not only were my wife and I equipped with fresh direction, but it was also good to see the team excited about what they had learned.
Tom Schiave, Pastor, Community Harvest Church, after going through Coach Training:
The training hit on every important topic and provided extremely helpful tools. It’s the best material I have been exposed to. Better than the classes I have taken in Seminary/Bible school.
Summary of What Pastors are Saying
MarriageTeam conducted a Pastor’s Round Table Discussion on February 3, 2011. There were 16 participating pastors. We listened carefully to what pastors are saying. The issues and concerns raised at that session are summarized in this Detailed Table of Issues and Concerns.