Communio at Work: Divorce Drops 24% in Jacksonville

Churches Mobilize to Solve Big Problems in their City

Building a Community Transformation Movement

The divorce rate plummeted in Jacksonville 24% after Communio’s three-year experiment and partnership with Live the Life, Alpha, and 93 local churches across the city. The decline is saving taxpayers an estimated $65 million and keeping thousands of children in homes with healthy marriages.

“Based on our church’s experiences over the last two years, it is evident that the efforts of Communio have had a substantial effect on the current drop in divorces in Duval County.”
- Pastor Wayne Lanier, Celebration Church, Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville: One of America’s Worst Cities for Marriage

In 2014, Men’s Health Magazine presented a study that ranked the 10 worst cities in America for marriage. Jacksonville was number six.

In fact, in 40 of the 44 years prior to 2014, Duval County had the highest divorce rate among all large Florida counties. But, after three years of Communio efforts on the ground, Duval had the lowest rate among all large counties in Florida. What’s more, prior to 2016, there had never been a year in which Jacksonville’s divorce rate was lower than the state average. But in 2017—year two of the initiative in Jacksonville—the divorce rate was 20% below the state average. Without question, a radical shift occurred in Duval county. The sharply lower divorce rate remained reduced through 2018.

How it Happened

Working through our local partner Live the Life ministries, Communio served 93 churches in Duval County to develop ongoing relationship ministries and put breakthrough microtargeting resources into the market, helping pastors and church leaders to move nearly 60,000 people through four-hour or longer programming in the city. Programs included marriage preparation, marriage wellness, and faith development.

Over a 36-month period, the initiative used predictive modeling to make more than 20 million digital impressions targeting those with a higher propensity for divorce. These online efforts were paired with a series of county-wide radio and billboard ads that made struggling couples aware of new marital resources in the city. Altogether, this multi-media campaign drove traffic to a website clearinghouse——where people could search and register for life-changing programs hosted at local churches in and around their zip code.

Local leaders from the Catholic diocese, the Southern Baptist Convention, and scholars from academia, including Dr. Brad Wilcox at the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, acknowledge the impact this church-centered effort had on family stability.

“Our initial data analysis suggests Communio has had an exceptional impact on marital stability in Duval County. As family scholars, we have rarely seen changes of this size in family trends over such a short period of time.”
- Dr. Brad Wilcox, National Marriage Project, UVA
Play Video

Marriage Expert Provides JAX Case Study

Dennis Stoica, the founder of Healthy Relationships California and Chairman of Live the Life Ministries, was the local leader for Communio’s (formerly known as The Culture of Freedom Initiative) three-year effort in Jacksonville. In this video, he speaks to nonprofit and foundation leaders about how Communio produced a 28% year-over-year decline in divorce from 2016-2017. Today, Jacksonville has the lowest divorce rate among all large Florida counties.