This multisite Texas church has made marriage health the central focus of its post-COVID re-opening and outreach strategy.

And so far, the results have been remarkable.

“We have never been able to reach before a higher percentage of un-churched people.”

That was Senior Pastor Doug Walker at Fellowship of the Parks (FOTP) – a Communio-supported, five-campus evangelical church participating on our Fort Worth City Platform.

Earlier this month, Communio helped his church plan and market their first big in-person outreach since the pandemic began – a “Rockin’ Date Nite”. Pastor Doug tells us more than 27 percent of the more than 1,000 attendees were new to the church.

But this outreach, which featured live music from a 90s cover band, a stand-up comedy special enriched with marital wisdom, and free childcare, is just the start of a major three-month ministry and evangelism blitz Communio is helping the church deploy this summer to increase marriage and relationship satisfaction of their members – and those in their surrounding community.

It served as the kickoff for their “5 Date Night Challenge” – an innovative form of ongoing engagement the church is running now to quickly move those 1,000 outreach attendees into skills-based relationship enrichment that transforms marital health. More on that in a moment.

You might value this short 8-minute highlight reel from FOTP’s “Rockin’ Date Nite” outreach. It should give you a good sense for what a well-run couples’ outreach event with a clear “next step” looks like at a large evangelical church. Communio helps all its partner churches design and run similar outreaches and comprehensive ministry strategies for their unique context and budget.

You see, FOTP is just one of the 18 large churches so far participating on Communio’s City Platform in Tarrant County – home of Fort Worth, Texas. Through this initiative, Communio equips churches to design and implement their own Data-Informed, Full-Circle Relationship Ministry™ – to shift marriage and family dynamics across the Fort Worth metroplex.

Communio has raised funds to support these initial 18 churches. Once fully funded, this $2.9 million city project will expand to equip a full complement of 70 of the largest churches across the county with our proven model.

In each church, Communio consults with staff to build out its own Ministry Engagement Ladder™ – a proven strategic framework that helps a church run a sequence of outreach and ongoing engagements that attract couples – from both inside and outside the church – and puts them on a multi-step journey into skills-based relationship ministry that strengthens marriage. Communio helps a church plan, market, and execute these experiences as well as select the right skills-based relationship enrichment content for the final rung of the ladder – the Growth Journey.

The team at FOTP has fully embraced this Ministry Engagement Ladder™ framework into the life of the church.  In fact, they are pushing hard to move a critical mass of couples through outreach, ongoing engagement, and into skills-based growth journeys between now and August 28.

Recall the “Rockin’ Date Nite” outreach mentioned earlier. It represents the first rung of FOTP’s engagement ladder. These experiences are heavier on fun with relationship enrichment content woven in throughout the night.

Communio helped FOTP bring in best-selling author, pastor, and comedian Ted Cunningham for a funny routine on their main campus that uplifted healthy marriages. That performance was live-streamed across all their other campuses – each of which hosted in-person events with live music, food, drinks, games, and free childcare.

This key message was reinforced throughout the night:

“Every marriage needs a daily delay, a weekly withdrawal, and an annual abandon.”

By “daily delay”, the church is encouraging couples to take 15-20 minutes each day to reconnect – kid-free, tech-free, and distraction-free – on “the issues of life”: finances, kids’ school, housekeeping, etc. Couples then need a “weekly withdrawal” – or a fun date night out – where they can enjoy each other’s company, without discussions of topics covered during the daily delays, to ensure increased connection and intimacy. And last, the “annual abandon” – an intentional time away together once a year (without kids) to further deepen connection and intimacy.

With this framework as a backdrop, FOTP launched their new “5 Date Night Challenge” at the close of the night as an ongoing engagement – the second programmatic rung of their engagement ladder.

Couples were challenged to go on five dates this summer (alone together or on a double date without kids) for a chance to win a two-night stay at the Hilton in Southlake.

In order to qualify, they need to prove their date nights by posting a “couple’s selfie” on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with a hashtag mentioning FOTP. The prize will be announced August 18.

Meanwhile, throughout the challenge, the church is offering ongoing growth journey opportunities – the final rung of the Ministry Engagement Ladder™ – where couples participate in skills-based relationship enrichment. You can view the full list of weekly enrichment opportunities the church is providing dating, engaged, and married couples by clicking here.

In particular, two courses were pushed heavily for married couples at Rockin’ Date Nite:

  • “Marriage Boost” is a weekly series that takes place on Wednesdays where couples work through Ted Cunningham’s enrichment content – Helping Couples Win – in small group settings. The “plug-and-play” course unpacks marital factors and skills over 24 sessions. Each session has a 6-10 minute video, session guide, and follow-up conversation starters for couples to work through with a group leader.
  • “Marriage Mondays” start June 7.  Here, FOTP will host three facilitator-led courses on the big three topics in marriage – sex, communication, and money – and equip couples with applicable and practical steps through a mix of teaching (20-25 minutes), couples’ exercises, discussion questions, an open Q&A session.

The team at FOTP is fired up. Communio has equipped them with a strategy and the ongoing ministry consultation and outreach support to implement and recalibrate over time.

“I am so thankful for Communio,”  said Senior Pastor Doug Walker. “They have been great partners with us. What they’re trying to do is not just entertain Christians, but really help us reach a community where there’s a lot of hurting marriages and families. They’ve helped us develop a strategy for marriage and family, and particularly marriages.”

This is just one example of the comprehensive relationship ministry our supporters and partnering churches are enacting, which is transforming marriages, churches, and communities.

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