Our Montana team ran its first citywide pastors’ luncheon, which we hosted for all the churches participating in the Billings City Platform – 10 of the 13 participating churches were represented (a pic from the luncheon is above). The luncheon, which was designed for pastors to increase collaboration and share best practices in marriage ministry, was modeled off similar gatherings Communio’s team hosts for churches on our Denver City Platform. This short, 4-minute video should give you a good sense for how these meetings work.

Our lunch in Billings today included leadership from the largest churches in Montana – such as Faith Chapel and Harvest Church. This was an incredibly encouraging meeting.

But, before going too much into what happened, let’s zoom out a bit to provide something of a bigger picture.  You see, over the last 10 days, we’ve had the chance to review 40 fully finalized Ministry Outcomes and Ministry Activities our church clients have laid out to achieve over the next 18 months.

As a reminder, to implement Communio’s model, our team works one-on-one with each individual church client to establish measurable Ministry Outcomes (goals) and then sets up Ministry Activities (the strategy) to achieve those goals. We do this because the threat to marriage and the family is HUGE and we are pushing churches to become increasingly strategic in how they focus and address this threat and actually strengthen marriages.

We expect another 20 churches to have those Ministry Outcomes to be finalized in the next 90 days and then an additional 20-30 before the end of the year.  Given what our partner churches have told us, you can expect a big evangelizing push this fall.

Now, even before the fall arrives, out in Denver, a flurry of summer outreach events, ongoing engagements, and growth journeys are scheduled at participating churches.

  • Wellspring Anglican ran, with Communio’s support, their most successful outreach event in its history this spring with more than 600 who attended. They’ve followed that successful outreach with ongoing engagement and moved guests into the Alpha Marriage Course – selling out their first course and ramping up more courses due to high demand.
  • Centennial Covenant is hosting a large outdoor concert targeting couples on July 17 and have built out a series of ongoing engagement events and skills-based growth journeys for courses this fall.

While turnout and participation have been strong, it’s been encouraging to hear stories of individual lives impacted.

St. Thomas More’s staff shared one of those stories with Jo Holt, our director of parish engagement. One woman who attended their couples’ comedy night had been away from church for 10 years.  This woman was so blown away by the investment the parish was making in marriages that she has now come back to regular Sunday attendance and has joined the volunteer team to help run the relationship ministry.

Out in the Permian Basin, activity is picking up.  Golf Course Road (GCR) Church just moved 24 people through the Alpha Marriage Course, which is what the church selected as its first, skills-based growth journey.  They have their next outreach event scheduled for August 21.  We connected GCR with Jason Earls – a great Christian comedian who focuses on uplifting marital humor – to become a hook to both church members and nonmembers in Midland to grow their new relationship ministry.

They’ll be the first church in Texas that can leverage Communio’s brand new outreach tools.  I’ll share more on these in just a moment.

GCR’s outreach will be followed in September by three growth journeys: Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, another Alpha Marriage Course, and the Alpha pre-marriage course.  They’ll wrap up the fall with a large-scale date night celebrating growth in relationships.

So much is unfolding in churches across the nation, thanks to your tremendous generosity.

But, let me take you back to the reason I’m writing you this evening from a metal cylinder soaring high above the earth.

At the luncheon with pastors in Yellowstone County, we helped pastors learn from one another – what is working for them and what isn’t.

  • Ryan Cooper, Emmanuel Baptist’s counseling pastor, shared that his church has benefited from thinking through and applying their Ministry Engagement Ladder®. They’ve been able to successfully move digital date night participants to in-person participants in their relationship ministry.  It’s allowed them to successfully run their first skills-based program – Alpha’s Marriage Course.
  • Ronnie Hern, a youth pastor from Parkhill Church, emphasized that his church’s pivot into marriage ministry is now a core part of their youth strategy. “We are not going to win disciples among the youth, unless we can reach the parents in the home,” Ronnie said.  The Florida-transplant shared with pastors their success in running the churchwide RAM Series, which our team recommended.  Given hesitancy around COVID, they decided to run both in-person and online small groups and had an explosion of participation with the online, Zoom small group option.
  • Across town, St Thomas the Apostle’s director of children and adult ministries, Joyce Hollowell encouraged pastors to amp up their marriage preparation noting she is seeing pent up demand from last year’s canceled weddings.  She said Communio helped them get Witness to Love (W2L) started and have seen a big uptick in the engaged/recently married actually coming to church on Sunday and participating in the life of their parish.  W2L is a one-of-a-kind marriage prep model that has the engaged pick their own mentors. It then creates a pathway for the engaged to become discipled.

We were also able to share for the first time that Communio is radically expanding its suite of outreach and evangelization tools to each of them.

This will allow our participating churches to run, for the first-time, multi-channel outreach campaigns.  We let them know that Communio could now help them identify – for example – struggling married couples with children under age 5 or individuals who look like they are likely to get married sometime in the next year and then:

  • Use microtargeting to send personal email invitations;
  • Help churches run person-to-person texting campaigns to nonmembers using the same data;
  • Equip churches with Communio’s new mobile app that allows volunteers to go door-to-door efficiently visiting only the most leveraged homes in a community;
  • Execute direct mail campaigns to these same groups.

This multi-channel approach (summarized in this video) is what political campaigns and businesses have been able to deploy for years.  Now, these cutting-edge tools are being placed into the hands of churches for the first time.

As you look around at what’s happening in our culture and politics from the schoolhouse to the statehouse, you and I know there is clearly something deeply wrong.  That “something” is fueled and made possible by the collapse of the family.

Yet by focusing on our own families, we know there is so much to be thankful for today and always.

During the luncheon, we also introduced Communio’s newest Montana team member, Kenton Rowe.  Kenton drove down from his home in Helena for the luncheon. From there he’ll be facilitating the statewide expansion of our work into Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula.

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