Photo Above: Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, and his first lady, Susan, joined Communio and more than 80 pastors, a bishop, and church leaders from across the state to discuss the dire state of the family and talked about how the Church must change it.


They decided to separate.

After nearly 15 years of marriage with young children, this Denver couple just didn’t think they would make it.

Someone at church encouraged them to come to the Adventures in Marriage weekend retreat, which Communio brought to the Mile High City last Friday and Saturday.

It changed everything.

Will share more about their experience and the experiences of others who joined in just a moment.

Right now, I’m writing this evening’s email on an American night flight coming home to Reagan Airport.  Just wrapped up a 40-hour whirlwind trip to Montana and Texas.

Yesterday, my first stop was in Big Sky Country for our Montana Pastors’ Summit in the state capital of Helena.

Their amazing governor, Greg Gianforte, and his first lady, Susan, joined us with a message to church leaders.

More than 80 pastors, a bishop, and church leaders from across the state discussed the dire state of the family and talked about how the Church must change it.  Pastors from Communio partner churches in Billings and Helena shared their own transformative experiences.

Gov. Gianforte showed what authentic leadership, imbued with real gospel values, looks like.  He let those gathered know that there is only so much the state can do.  Real change on the family requires the Church to take bold action.  He encouraged every pastor there to leverage Communio’s resources.

And based upon feedback over the last day, our work in Big Sky will shift into a higher gear.

Now, believe it or not – there actually is a direct flight from Billings to Dallas in the mornings.  So, Pastor John Harneke, from Parkhill Church, let me hitch a ride with him on the 3 ½ hour drive from Helena last night.  He stopped in the middle of nowhere just to let me catch my first real life, in-person look at the Milky Way on a cloudless night.

Man, God is one brilliant artist.

Then, I flew early this morning to DFW to join our North Texas team at Fellowship of the Parks (FOTP) in Fort Worth for a meeting with 37 pastors and church leaders.  FOTP is a model Communio partner, helping to spread the mission and message.  Ten different churches joined us from across the DFW, including First Baptist Denton, First Baptist Burelson, and Cross City Church.

This all follows meetings I had with our team last week with some great bell cow churches in Austin, Texas.  We’re very close to announcing some big new partnerships in the Lone Star State’s capital city.

Thanks to our visionary donors, the Communio team is lighting brush fires to renew marriage in key cities across the country to ramp up our National Strategy to Save the Family.

And the fires continue to grow. Right now, as you read this email, Communio is running 16 outreach campaigns for different churches. But so much more is happening.  Let me share a few highlights of what’s happened over the last week:

  • In Kansas City, 1,587 registered for Church of the Ascension’s first Outreach event this past weekend – which is the first leg of the parish implementing our Ministry Engagement Ladder® framework.

Of those, 36 percent or 586 people came from Communio’s multichannel marketing campaign. Nearly every one of those who registered showed up. The parish asked Communio to stand down the marketing 5 days before the event because so many had registered. Our church strategist has helped them build out a 12-month written plan to follow up this event and grow their ministry to renew marriage and relationship health.

  • At Sacred Heart, a small parish of less than 200 or so attendees, 27 couples are now completing the skills-based Alpha Marriage Course as their growth journey.  They had so many couples come they had to reconfigure their space.

This followed a very successful Outreach event (Screen on the Green) with an ongoing engagement (Drinking with the Saints).mAs a friend out there told me, this church is “punching way above its weight class.” Here’s a piece of feedback from their ongoing engagement:

“I did not expect relatability or feeling spoken directly to. Following the presentation, the fellowship around the fire was impactful and deeply vulnerable.”

  • In Midland, Texas, my friends Michael and Alicia Hernon of Messy Family Podcast fame ran a couples retreat for 56 people at St. Ann’s.  This is just another part of St. Ann’s multi-year partnership with Communio as they continue to use our Full-Circle Relationship Ministry framework.

This brings us back to Denver and the couple I told you about at the start of this email.

Wellspring Church hosted a training and marriage retreat for ministry leaders to equip Communio churches to run the Adventures in Marriage skills-based retreat.

This was the cornerstone skills-program in Communio’s successful Jacksonville experiment that lowered the divorce rate county-wide by 24 percent.  We brought the program’s author and his wife to Denver to teach churches to run and implement it.  This coming weekend we’ll be bringing them to Billings, MT to train many more churches.

So, a parishioner at Wellspring – an Anglican church in Englewood – decided to open up this initial training and retreat for non-ministry couples to attend.  One couple was the couple I mentioned at the start of this email who had recently separated and had just come back together to try to find a way to make it work.

The couple reported on their intake survey that they believed they were heading for a divorce.

In fact, of the 12 couples in attendance, two of them reported that they believed they were heading for a divorce.  Afterwards, both reported a major shift in their marriage quality and were recommitted to it.

“Before the retreat, on problem solving, I’d say we were in the infancy stage,” one wife shared.  “We made a huge jump.  If we can keep using the tools, the future of our marriage bodes very well.”

Of the couples in attendance, ten of them reported that they did not have the skills to resolve a conflict.  At the end of the event, 100 percent of them said they were now confident that they had the skills to resolve future conflicts.

“I have been trying to get my husband to go to something like this for years,” a separate couple shared with us. “After the first night, he could not stop talking about how much he enjoyed this program. This had a HUGE impact on our marriage.”

Our team is thrilled to see this ministry flourish in the Mile High City, in Big Sky Country, and in other church partners across the country.

Friendly Isaiah, this is the hard work that transforms family legacies for generations to come.  This is all thanks to the support of our generous donors and visionary pastors at our partnering churches.

And as I look out the window at the night sky high above this earth, I would encourage you to know that no matter how dark it might seem, morning always comes.

We’re starting to see that sunrise.

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