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Greg Smalley: We Need to Change the Way We Think About Marriage Ministry

Pastors have much on their plate. It can be overwhelming to add marriage counseling to the list of responsibilities. Dr. Greg Smalley is passionate about healthy marriages, but he’s equally passionate about equipping the local church to engage in marriage. That’s why he’s the Vice President of Family Ministries at Focus on the Family. Their team works to prepare top-notch resources to prepare couples for marriage, strengthen existing marriages and help those struggling in marital crises.

Dr. Smalley shared his favorite definition of marriage ministry, which just might create a spark in your marriage and family ministry.

“One of my favorite analogies about what I’m passionate about in terms of marriage is this. At some point we were living in Arkansas and had a weed was in my grass. And my wife’s going, ‘You have to do something about these weeds.’

So I marched down to Home Depot or Lowe’s and just on my own picked up some sprays. I bring them back and I’m going around and spraying them. A couple days later, Erin goes, ‘You’ve got to come see this.’

We go back out to the lawn and everywhere I sprayed was dead spots. Except for the weeds! It made them bigger. It’s like they were drinking in whatever I was spraying on them. Then she’s begging me, ‘Please go talk to someone.’

So I go back and I’m talking to this guy. I took pictures so I’m showing him ‘Here’s a picture of the weeds.’ And he said ‘Well what did you use on them?’ I showed him and he’s like ‘Oh yeah, that’s the worst thing you could have done.’ And I thought, ‘really?’

He goes, ‘For this particular kind of weed, you don’t ever want to go after the weed.’ He says, ‘What you want to do is grow the healthy grass around the weed, and eventually the healthy grass will choke out the weeds.’

And when I heard him say that, I just flashed to everything I was passionate about marriage. I went ‘You know, you may be from Home Depot, but that’s the best definition of marriage ministry I’ve ever heard.’

Instead of trying to weed out divorce and instead of trying to focus on the problem, I really get passionate about ‘how do we grow healthy marriages knowing that as those spread, that’s what’s going to end up choking out divorce.

So, I don’t give much time to ‘Hey, how do we eliminate divorce? What are we doing about all these problems?’ Really, what I get passionate about is ‘How do we help couples have stronger marriages, so the can replicate strong marriages.

My vision statement is strong marriages replicating strong marriages.”

Don’t miss Dr. Greg Smalley sharing about life-changing resources for marriages. Resources for preparing for marriage, strengthening marriage and saving marriage have been 85% successful. These are a game-changer. Pastors can now meet with couples and equipping them with resources without adding to their already busy schedules.

Listen now and learn more:

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Esther Laurie is a staff writer at churchleaders.com. Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.