Photo above: Communio President JP De Gance meets with 30 pastors and church staff at LakePointe Church in Rockwall, Texas for a discussion on the state of marriage today and its impact on church health. JP shared ministry strategies Communio-supported churches are deploying to strengthen marriage and grow their memberships.
August 23, 2022
By JP De Gance, Communio President
O’Dark Hundred flight this morning to Montana by way of Chicago for a week of meetings with pastors and church leaders across the state.
Will run from Bozeman to Helena to Great Falls to Butte and wrap up in Missoula before flying home on Friday. My 14-year-old daughter hasn’t started school quite yet, so I cashed out some United Miles and brought her as my wingman.
A torrent of evangelizing relationship ministry cranks up around the country as the quiet summer fades. I’ll give you a quick sketch of what’s happening. But, before getting to that…
This week’s trip comes in the wake of productive meetings with evangelical pastors in Denver, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.
On average, each week new churches are signing multiyear agreements with Communio to leverage the support of our Data-Informed, Full-Circle Relationship Ministry® model.
Communio is set to launch new partnerships with some of the largest bell cow churches on the Dallas side of the DFW metroplex. This dovetails with our existing partnerships with 15 churches on the Fort Worth side. I’ll have much more to share on our growth in this Buckle of the Bible Belt later in the fall.
All of this is part of Communio’s National Strategy to Save the Family. Our team now has five directors of church engagement recruiting new partnerships with evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic churches. Many of these new churches, with some good exception, are largely focused in the country’s top 40 metro areas.
Obviously, the family is in free fall. Just 17.8 percent of all US households are now married homes with children.
Yet, churches remain a vastly unleveraged resource in saving the family.
Our survey with the Barna Group found that 85 percent of all churches still report spending zero dollars on marriage and relationship ministry. Our board of directors and donors see an arbitrage where a focused investment here can push churches in America to reach a tipping point where they become evangelizing hubs for healthy relationships and marriages.
One generation of Christian marriage well-lived can change the world.
So, let’s hit on some of the highlights from around the country. First, in Denver …
As a strategic step for the city, Wellspring secured dates to host a training on October 7-9 open to all of Communio’s 23 partnering churches for Adventures in Marriage. This program was THE cornerstone marriage enrichment program behind Communio’s successful experiment in Jacksonville, Florida. Independent research has found this curriculum to have the largest positive effect on couples. It’s effect 12 months after taking the course is larger than the immediate effect of nearly all other programs that have been measured.
There’s lots more happening in Denver, but let’s run over to our large Archdiocesan initiative in Kansas City, Kansas.
Communio just cranked through the largest number of strategic planning sessions in a fixed geography over a short period of time – nine held in over just six weeks. In all, 10 current parishes are participating with another three expected to launch our partnership by October 1.
Each of the participating parishes have dialed in both their measurable goals around relationship ministry and parish growth, as well as their 12-month strategy. Will have loads more to share on this work in the weeks ahead.
Down in Florida, St Helen Catholic Church held their final summer ongoing engagement prior to launching their fall outreach event. The ongoing engagement was actually a Bingo Night for couples where more than 50 married people went through a communication skills exercise designed to develop empathy.
After consulting with our church strategist, this parish has decided to move forward with a Growth Journey called the RAM Series, which incorporates youth, young adults, as well as all single and married adults. Recently discovered sexual brokenness within their youth and young adult community drove this Growth Journey focus.
Up closer to our office in Northern Virginia, our new partner parish – Queen of Apostles – leveraged Communio’s marketing services to hold the largest Family Festival in their parish history. Over 1,500 people cycled through with at least 559 known registrants coming from outside of the parish.
The Task Force running the ministry is calling itself GEM (Grow Extraordinary Marriages). They had a designated space where volunteer “ambassador” couples interacted with event attendees and invited them to the next stages of their relationship ministry. Flyers with info and a QR code about the upcoming events were handed out and placed on tables.
Twice throughout the day, an announcement was made from the main stage about the new marriage and focused relationship ministry at the parish. Fr. Alex Diaz cast the vision to the whole crowd, and a public invitation was made to the next event. This is all a textbook example of how churches can take an Outreach Event and leverage it as a launch point for their relationship ministry.
Their next event will be a Wine and Short Film Night on September 16 at the parish. Two short films from Windrider Studios (Head Over Heels and Walk, Run, Cha-cha) will be shown. The Alpha Marriage Course will be discussed and promoted. Free childcare will be available.
Now, back to Montana where I’ll spend most of my week.
Over in Billings, the largest city in this state, Harvest Church continues to crank on their relationship and family focused outreach with more than 1,000 people at their most recent event. They are working with Communio to host an Adventures in Marriage (AIM) training for all of Communio’s partnering churches in Yellowstone County on October 21-22. Another AIM training is on the books for Helena on November 11-13.
The goal is to have this life-changing resource brought into churches across Denver, Billings, Helena and throughout Montana.
Three Outreach Events are on the books in Billings over the coming days. This weekend, Parkhill Baptist will be the first Montana church to leverage Communio’s mobile block walking app to go door to door in Yellowstone County to promote their family Block Party.
This is just a sampling of what’s happening across the country as Communio works with churches to become evangelizing hubs for healthy marriages and relationships.
Cetainly, the daily news online or on cable looks themed around Doom right now. It’s easy to see the darkness and either despair or become despondent. Discouragement is not a gift of the Holy Spirit. Let me tell you – when I bring Communio’s message to pastors, priests, and bishops around the country, I see lights go on in their minds and in their imaginations.
There’s no easy button to fix our plight. Thankfully, we are finding so many pastors who get it.
Now, it’s just time to get after it.