NASHVILLE, TN (BP) – Pastors and church leaders may feel called upon to be experts when it comes to shepherding the marriages in their congregations, but research shows many don't feel up to the task.
In 2015, LifeWay Research found 78 percent of pastors surveyed had at least one couple approach them regarding challenges in their marriage within the past year, and 69 percent of churches didn't have an ongoing marriage ministry.
LifeWay Christian Resources has launched Woo Marriage to come alongside church leaders to help create a healthy marriage culture in their congregations. Woo Marriage is a Christ-centered, 30-course digital marriage coaching tool that offers biblical encouragement and practical guidance from 11 ministry and marriage expert couples.
Those marriage coaches include Transformation Church pastor Derwin Gray and wife Vicki, author and researcher Shaunti Feldhahn and husband Jeff, LifeWay marriage and family strategist Joshua Straub and wife Christi, Reach Fellowship Pastor D.A. Horton and wife Elicia and New Spring pastor Clayton King and wife Sharie.
Woo Marriage video sessions explore foundational topics in marriage, such as communication, intimacy, boundaries, conflict resolution and forgiveness, as well as curated pathways for all seasons of marriage.
Specialized courses for pastors and their spouses are also included.
"The LifeWay Research study uncovered that pastors were facing barriers ministering to couples due to time, a lack of resources and feelings of inadequacy when coaching couples," said Mickey Pitts, brand manager for Woo Marriage.
Other findings from the 2015 research showed 40 percent of pastors said they and their staff lacked the time to invest in marriage ministry, and one-third (34 percent) of pastors said they didn't feel qualified as marriage experts.
"We wanted to create something for church leaders that would serve as a supplemental tool for marriage ministry that would duplicate their time, give them a flexible resource for the digital age and provide biblical coaching from ministry leaders they can trust," Pitts said.
Mark Dance, director of LifeWay Pastors, is featured in several of the video-teaching sessions with his wife Janet.
"Pastors like to start, strengthen and save marriages, but can sometimes get overwhelmed by the never-ending weight of the task," Dance said.
"I expect Woo Marriage will help churches build transformational marriages in their congregations -- and help leaders strengthen their own marriages as they shepherd God's people."
Pitts explained that ultimately, the aim of Woo Marriage is to point people to the Gospel.
"LifeWay built this resource in hopes of wooing -- hence the name -- couples to Christ and one another," Pitts said. "We know that a full understanding of the Gospel and Christ's pursuit of us is the key to building, equipping and restoring marriages that last a lifetime."
Woo Marriage is available on a monthly or annual subscription model, has a virtual support team available to answer questions and provides a short video that demonstrates how to use the resource. For more information, visit WooMarriage.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joy Allmond is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.