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March 9, 2021

As Texas ends its mask mandate and restrictions on public gatherings, churches in Midland and Odessa – home to Communio’s second City Platform in the Permian Basin – are launching a wave of new outreach and engagement over the next 30 days to support marriages:

  • True-Lite Christian Fellowship, a medium-sized, multiracial congregation lead by an African-American pastor, is hosting a “Date Night to Go” as a major couples outreach – the first rung of Communio’s Ministry Engagement Ladder™ – on March 19 focused on serving low- to middle-income families (details below).
  • Nearby, St. Ann Church, the largest Catholic parish in Midland with a sizable Spanish-speaking population, is launching the final rung of its engagement ladder next week – a skills-based couples growth journey – after having hosted more than 180 people at their initial “Cooking with Fr. Tim” outreach in January and “Community Challenge Scavenger Hunt” ongoing engagement in February (photos and details below).
  • Golf Course Road Church and First Baptist of Midland – two churches with a combined membership of roughly 4,000 – are hosting their first big outreaches on March 25 and April 2. Golf Course is running a couples’ “Trivia & Pizza Date Night” with childcare, while First Baptist has reserved the entire new public park in downtown Midland for its large-scale outdoor couple’s date night with food trucks and lawn games.

Meanwhile, the size and scope of Communio’s work in the Permian is also growing.

Communio just received signed contracts from two influential evangelical churches – Mid-Cities Church, a 3,000-member, four-campus multisite with locations in Midland and Odessa, and Fairmont Park Church, a medium-sized Church of Christ congregation of several hundred families in Midland. More on that in a moment.

Altogether, the seven churches participating so far on Communio’s Permian City Platform are part of an ecumenical movement across these sister cities that will grow to 15 churches this fall.

As part of these citywide projects, Communio helps churches make a major pivot to evangelize and transform communities through marriage and relationship ministry by implementing our Full-Circle Relationship Ministry™ model. This involves helping churches build their own Ministry Engagement Ladders™ – which helps them plan out and run a series of events that draw people into fun experiences and gradually moves them into skill-based relationship ministry.

Now, back to some really encouraging outreach at that church serving low-income families – True-Lite Christian Fellowship.

This medium-sized, majority minority evangelical church lead by a dynamic African American pastor, Roy Smith, will launch their first outreach event – Date Night to Go – on March 19. Communio is helping the church promote this event within its membership and with those in their surrounding community through a multi-week digital outreach campaign. This includes providing True-Lite branded web pages to collect registrations and ticket sales. You can view this registration page by clicking here.

  • True-Lite has arranged for childcare at the church for parents to drop off their kids and have a date night out. Couples will receive a special date night package with creative, inexpensive ideas on where to go and what to do as well as a list of communications skills questions to spark meaningful conversation. True-Lite will invite couples to participate in their ongoing engagements for April and May – a Couple’s Cornhole Tournament and BBQ Competition featuring outdoor line dancing.

Ultimately, the experiences are designed to flow more people into their existing Sunday morning small groups which will now be used as distribution channels for couples’ relationship education. Taking on Communio’s concept of infusion from our strategic planning session, the church is infusing relationship enrichment content for parents that drop kids off at the church’s evening bible school activities.

Meanwhile, as True-Lite gets started on its Ministry Engagement Ladder™, a Communio-supported parish about three miles up the road in Midland, St. Ann Catholic Church, is launching the final rung of their ladder – a skills-based Growth Journey.

Back in January, Communio helped St. Ann plan and market its first outreach – “Cooking with Fr. Tim” – as a virtual cooking show that brought in more than 130 people. The parish had a local chef teach people how to make chicken tacos and no-bake cookies – all from an ingredient list provided to registrants a week before the class. The event also included a fun Margarita-making demonstration to kick the night off.

The parish staff tells us the event was a big success. Here’s what one event attendee who was not a member of the parish shared with their team:

I just wanted to tell you that we really enjoyed our evening cooking with father! We were unsure what to expect, but we really enjoyed it. Everything was delicious. It was a great event during this time when we aren’t really getting out. Thank you to whoever was involved in planning this.

The St. Ann staff also shared some of these encouraging notes from other attendees:

           Can’t wait for the next one!

This was a lot of fun! Thank you so much!

We would definitely sign up again! So fun! I loved being with you all!

This cooking event was an important set up for the parish’s ongoing engagement – a “Community Challenge Scavenger Hunt” – which occurred in February. Here, the parish gave families access to a really innovative GPS-guided scavenger hunt app called Goosechase that enabled teams to compete against each other across the city. Challenges for St. Ann’s participants ranged from having to re-enact the famous Beetles walk on a city crosswalk to silly activities such as “acting like a duck with a duck.” The app allows participants to take and upload photos for the host to review and determine a winner.

Next week, St. Ann will launch its Growth Journey for couples. Our team helped them select the “Be Light” date night series from Catholic publisher and Communio partner, Witness to Love. It features six, 15-minute videos from well-known Catholic couples sharing insights and lessons on different aspects of marriage that will be run over six weeks. After each video, the parish will host small group discussions where couples can unpack the key message on marital health from the videos.

Meanwhile, about two miles northwest of St. Ann, Golf Course Road Church, a Church of Christ congregation in Midland, is re-launching their Ministry Engagement Ladder™ with their first in-person outreach on March 26thTrivia & Pizza Date Night for couples with childcare provided.

The event is a big opportunity for Golf Course to invite attendees to take a next step and register for their ongoing engagement experience in April – a Community Scavenger Hunt. From here, attendees will be invited to join couples’ small groups where the seven-week, Alpha Marriage Course series – one of Communio’s trusted content partners – will be delivered.

All of this comes on the heels of GCR running digital outreach earlier in the pandemic.

When COVID hit, it was a blessing that Communio made sure we were still able to engage the community with meaningful content virtually,” said Ryan Rampton, Connections Minister at Golf Course Road. “Now that COVID in our community is on a downward trend, we are excited to hold in-person gatherings and really see the vision of Communio make an impact on relationships in our community and our church.

Two and a half miles down the road from Golf Course Road Church, Family Pastor Corey Brand and his team at First Baptist Church of Midland, are gearing up their big outreach event – “Tall City Date Night” – as the first programmatic experience of their new Ministry Engagement Ladder™.

The First Baptist team has taken the concept of bringing relationship ministry “outside the four walls of the church” to heart.

  • For its flagship outreach, the church is hosting a major outdoor experience in Centennial Park – a brand-new, outdoor venue in the heart of downtown Midland – open to the public. In fact, First Baptist’s outreach here will be the first private event hosted in the new park since it opened last year. The First Baptist team has organized a food truck row, couple’s lawn games, and activities for kids in the park’s playground. Throughout the night, First Baptist will have “ambassadors” walking around to meet people, strike up conversation, and invite them to Easter services as well as the church’s new ongoing engagements – “Neighborhood Date Nights” – starting in May.

Communio just launched a digital outreach campaign on behalf of the church that’s driving couples across Midland to this event on their Facebook page.

All these efforts will point people to join new skills-based relationship ministry groups in the fall. The church is slated to launch Les and Leslie Parrot’s SYMBIS program – “Save Your Marriage Before It Starts” – for singles and the engaged and Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for couples.

Rolling into March, two new Communio-supported churches – Mid-Cities Church and Fairmont Park Church – will take their very first step with Communio by launching their first-party survey at all Sunday services.

Like all Communio-supported churches, the survey is pushed out over text message during the sermon to capture immediate biographical data and insights on the relationship health quality of all single, engaged, and married people in the pews. This data, along with modeled data of their entire church membership and those in their surrounding community, will be reviewed at their strategic planning meeting in April. They too will set goals and activity targets for their new relationship ministry.

We hope you’re encouraged to see so much progress in Midland and across all of our churches around the nation.  Strengthening our country must begin in the humble confines of the hearth and home.  If you’re interested in bringing Communio’s culture-changing work to your community – please don’t hesitate to drop us an email.

For more information or to explore bringing Communio’s model to your city or church, call us at (703) 347-7800 or email us at platform@communio.org. Or visit our website – www.communio.org – for more background on our work.

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Pope Francis, who has often spoken about pastoral ministry for married couples, observed that those who have come through crises are a valuable resource. Today there is a great need for people, for spouses who know how to bear witness to the fact that the crisis is not a curse, it is part of the journey, and it constitutes an opportunity.

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