By: Dr. Jenn Murff
So, you want to know why I am so passionate about Millennials and marriage? Well, I will tell you! I did not come from the fairy tale story. I have seen my share of pain, disappointment and dysfunction. I am a Millennial who is part of that 24-38% who come from a divorced home. I too feared marriage and when I finally met “the one”, I remember praying to God,” Please help me not I screw it up”. Just like you, I grew up hearing many fights, seeing lots of pain and catching a lot of tears. Marriage in my home was not pretty but despite all of that, I knew that it was God’s best. So, I made the plunge and got married and in all honesty, I have never had a regret. Fortunately, Justin and I had family and mentors in our life who let us sit back and see covenantal marriage lived out. They set great examples of marriage and how it should reflect the very heart of God. The church really has an opportunity to meet a generation right where they are and BE the church.
Here are three approaches that pastors and church leaders can take that could help change the perception of marriage among the Millennial generation:
Approach Marriage Holistically: Changing Millennials perception of marriage starts with healing from the inside out. Think about it, over 40% of Millennials come from divorced homes, which causes many to be simply repelled and fearful of the institution. Churches today can create a safe community that models Godly marriages and relationships that bring healing where there is brokenness. The church should begin working with young couples as soon as love blooms while they are dating or engaged. Millennials value mentorship making it a great opportunity for the leaders to guide, support and equip these couples for successful marriages. We have seen religion fail to keep marriages together, but when there is a community of support and open communication, marriage and Godly relationships can thrive.
Approach Marriage Authentically: Did you know that church leaders are in the modeling business? Your role is to model a Godly (not perfect) marriage in an authentic way that changes the negative perception that Millennials have towards marriage. This means that you must make YOUR marriage a priority by investing in your spouse. Take your spouse on dates, romance the heart, leave sweet notes, clean the kitchen (we call that Chore-play in our house) and keep falling in love and pursuing your spouse.
Approach Marriage Intimately: Another way to approach marriage that can help change Millennials perception is by having genuine conversations about sex and sexuality that embodies grace and truth. Sex has been perverted in the world and ignored in the church. The church needs to talk about sex! God designed sex to be holy, pure and intimate not perverted, dirty and disingenuous. If the church does not lead in the conversation about sex than the world will.
The church must seize the moment to prepare, equip and encourage the next generation of couples for strong marriages because families matter, marriage matters, and the church can lead the way.