Greg Smalley on Building Unbreakable Marriages in Your Church

Pastors have much on their plates. 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.

Big Questions:

How can pastors help strengthen marriages and families?

How can everyone (kids included!) honor marriage?

What are some practical resources for pastors to connect couples with?

How can the local church play a role in creating healthy marriages?

Quotes from Dr. Greg Smalley:

“And that’s why I just love the local church, for many reasons, but that being one of them: It contains an army of strong marriages, and I think that’s the answer.”

“I really do see the church as the number one distribution center for healthy marriages.”

“The research shows that of couples who go through premarital education, at least 8-10 hours, 80% stay together.”

“Everything we do has that in mind. How do we lift up the mentors in the congregation so the pastor isn’t burdened? But the relationships are not being built with Focus on the Family, they’re being built with the couple using some of the resources that we provide.”

“Something about a date night felt safe. It was an easy onramp into marriage strengthening activities… A date night is common vernacular. Everybody gets what that means… It’s a very easy way for a church to do some outreach and invite people. And people come just to laugh and have fun. And now it’s up to the church to draw them back, but we watched churches be able to do that.”

“God is all about marriages being restored. He is always there. He is always fighting for our marriage. So what we’ve discovered is there are some key things that if it happens it really lends itself to bringing couples back together… It’s 85% successful.”

“Couples are more likely to go to a pastor before even going to a counselor. What an opportunity! And so, I believe that a pastor or someone within that church can play such a vital role of almost triaging, but then for most pastors they need is somewhere to send. You’ve got some great relationships with counselors in your area, but this is a fantastic program. It’s a marriage ER and 85% successful.”

Mentioned in the Show

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Andrew Hess
Andrew Hess is the director of content at the White Horse Inn and editor of corechristianity.com. He formerly served as the editor of churchleaders.com. His writing has been featured on The Gospel Coalition and Focus on the Family. He lives in San Diego with his wife Jen and they recently welcomed their first child. Connect with Andrew on Twitter @AndrewWHess.