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The pastor sat down in the chair to get his hair cut.

Striking up small talk, the stylist tried to understand what this Denver man did and where he worked.  Then, a light bulb went on.

“Oh my gosh – you guys are all over my Facebook! So we are coming to your fall festival event. We’ve been talking about going back to church after a long-time so we figured this was a good way to see at least a little bit of what we thought about your church.”

This family-oriented outreach event at Centennial Covenant Church, where Communio has been helping the church design and launch a Full-Circle Relationship Ministry®, saw 750 people turnout in a church of just 400 or so people.  It fit into a larger, long-term strategy organized around our Ministry Engagement Ladder® framework.

Pausing from Centennial Covenant for a moment, let’s take a broader look at how churches have responded. Despite COVID being around, our churches have pushed the throttle in a huge way across our City Platform initiatives and through our individual Church partnerships. Right now, our team is supporting churches in running more than 40 outreach events and spinning up more than 40 skills-based relationship enrichment classes to improve marital and relationship health both for singles and for married people.

While 85 percent of all churches in the country spend 0 percent of their budget on relationship and marriage ministry, the Communio churches have deployed a six-figure sum to reach into their community to save marriage and the family.  Let me give you just some of the highlights:

First, let’s shoot up to Montana’s largest city, Billings …

  • Communio helped Faith Evangelical Church run an outreach event with over 1,350 people in attendance.  Since this early September event, they’ve succeeded in moving 325 to join one of 30 small groups. They are moving all these small groups through the skills-based Marriage Course designed by Alpha, beginning in February.
  • One of our newer partners in Yellowstone County, Chapel of Hope, has followed our guidance in launching their own Full-Circle Relationship Ministry.  Before moving to do outreach, Pastor Rick decided he needed to get things right in their membership.  This church of just 200 or so people has 100 going through the RAM Series, designed by Communio President’s co-author.  

“After the pandemic (and in it still) I have noticed a greater move toward inwardness focus in our congregation as well as stagnation,” Pastor Rick shared with our director of church engagement. “I’ve been praying for God to give us a vision to bring hope to our community. In several different ways God has brought together a path for us to follow to do just that. One of those convergence tools has been Communio. We are beginning to see how we can still fulfill the Great Commission in the challenging days we live in!

There’s a lot more going on in Billings with one of the largest churches in the state moving the 1,700 couples and singles who attended their outreach event that featured former Denver Bronco, Vance Johnson, into relationship skills small groups both for the singles and marrieds.

But, let’s now fly down to Denver and go back to Centennial Covenant first…

“[The Family Fall Festival] was a stunning success as far as attendance is concerned. We’d determined our ‘win’ was 300 people. We stopped counting at 750.  We had 75 volunteers.”

The church’s point person on implementing Communio’s framework told us they retrieved email contact information from nearly every family in attendance.  The Christian entertainer shared the gospel message and that too was well received.

Centennial Covenant is moving couples and families through ongoing engagement in December where they’ll combine traditional Christmas outreach with couples’ relationship education sprinkled in.  In January, they’ll then launch a marriage seminar moving couples toward a skills-retreat to boost marital health.  The pastor has really valued the partnership:

“Thanks to Communio for helping us move forward in the right direction of outreach. The lingo in our church has even changed more outward focused than ever before.”

This is one of 23 churches in the Mile-High Metro who is deploying a data-informed approach to a Full-Circle Relationship Ministry.  Mission Hills, Calvary Church, Sanctuary Christian Fellowship, St. Thomas More, and St. Vincent de Paul are just some of the churches launching into all rungs of their Ministry Engagement Ladder.

Calvary Church

Communio ran a multichannel outreach campaign for this congregation and had 700 people attend with 400 or more coming from outside of the church. They received email addresses for the vast majority of attendees and are following up individually with them to invite them to Christmas activities.  They are setting up a date night called “Parents’ Night Out & Story Time” with Pastor Mark – November 30, which will also be included in the follow up email.  Their growth journey will begin in January.

St. Thomas More

This large parish just down the street from me has embraced Communio’s model post-COVID with a series of outreach, ongoing engagement, and growth journeys.  This has included a successful parish festival where a staggering 74 percent of the 366 attendees were from outside the parish.  They’ve run a series of small groups and skills classes for married couples, single parents, and in January they will run support for divorced couples.

Communio is helping St Thomas go big in their next outreach event deploying direct mail, digital marketing on Facebook, and texting to microtargeted audiences for an event they’re calling: “Centennial’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve.” This family-fun event will run from 6:30 until 10 and includes a look at the east coast’s ball drop, a DJ, pizza, candy buffet, popcorn, teen ping-pong competition, and bingo.  Going to the peripheries, the parish is targeting both married couples with children and cohabiting couples with children.

Across town at St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) is leveraging Communio’s help to run an aggressive Ministry Engagement Ladder beginning in December and running through all of 2022.  Fr. Hilton has authorized a multichannel campaign for their December outreach including direct mail, Facebook, and Instagram.

SVDP has designed separate dinner series where singles will be grouped together and couples will be grouped together. They’ll meet monthly for four months for the series. Then, a new series will begin. This will happen three times per year.  They’ll move couples through the Marriage Course by Alpha and will run an NFP Marriage retreat.

Still scratching the surface, but let’s head down to Texas for a lightning round update…

First, Tarrant County/Fort Worth:

Once Mask Mandates were lifted, nearly every one of the 17 church locations quickly jumped into Live Events this Spring, Summer, and Fall.  All have seen between 30-70% of event attendees being first time guest.  Communio’s helped churches deliver more than 7 million digital impressions in the county driving participation.

The leader in the clubhouse is Fellowship of the Parks who is providing everyone at their Caliente Date Nite outreach with a special date night kit and setting them up for future couple engagements at the church. It’s a creative and incredibly low-cost way for a church to spark a dating culture within its membership.

Driving east to the oil patch, 11 churches are now on the Permian Basin City Platform.  Mid-Cities Church ran a successful mini-golf date night targeting couples where 60 percent of the attendees were first time guests of the church.  They have 60 couples sign up for follow up of skills-based relationship ministry.

Fairmont Church is about to launch its outreach campaign for “Fight Night” – a creative couples’ outreach that takes a lighthearted approach to helping couples deal with conflict.

In Boston, Minneapolis, Atlanta, New Orleans, and in Mark Twain’s rural stomping grounds in West Central Illinois, churches are catching the vision to market their church a hub for relationship health as THE means for evangelization and growth.  Let’s look at a couple rural partners:

In West-Central Illinois at St Peter Catholic Church, they held their first couples’ and family outreach called S’more Fun!, which drew 240.  They have several growth journeys planned, including the launch of the Marriage Course by Alpha.

Nearby at St John’s Lutheran Church, this small church of 100 Sunday attendees had 339 total guests for their outreach event.  They have also built out their Ministry Engagement Ladder with ongoing engagement events and skills-based relationship ministry.

Pastors are catching the vision of being the hub for relationship health.  Now is the time to keep the hand on the throttle.

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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.
A new report, “Women in the Workplace,” by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. illustrates how the pandemic imposed an especially heavy toll on working women. It found that one in three women over the past year had thought about leaving their jobs or “downshifting” their careers.

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