"The church needs to be more involved in blended family ministry."
Dr. Gary Chapman bestselling author of The Five Love Languages as heard on Building Relationships radio broadcast
"We are endebted to the insights Ron Deal shared...and I urge every pastor...to think about a ministry in your church for those who have experienced divorce...and consider how you might be able to minister to those in stepfamily situations."
Rev. H.B. London Jr. Vice President, Pastoral Ministries, Focus on the Family as heard on Pastor to Pastor
FREE "brown bag" webinars! Be sure to review our list of upcoming webinars for ministry leaders...delivered to the comfort of your own office.
Many people are surprised to hear us make the above statement, but over a decade of specializing in stepfamily ministry has taught us that it is the truth: typical marriage education programs and ministries are not sufficient for couples in stepfamilies. Since marriage in a stepfamily is a "package deal" you must minister to both the couple and "the package." This means addressing dynamics related to ex-spouses and co-parenting, loss, stepparenting, spiritual shame, finances, and the expectations of both children and adults--just to name a few. To do anything less is grossly inadequate to prevent divorce.
Good stepfamily ministry starts with you educating yourself about the unique needs and dynamics of stepfamilies. Then you can structure a local ministry.
Practical Tips & Resources for Building Your Ministry:
Purchase our discounted "Building Your Ministry" Resource Pack. This newly revised resource includes the DVD seminar Ministering to Stepfamilies (55 minutes) and our 8-session small group curriculum The Smart Stepfamily DVD (complete with a Participant & Leader Study Guide). You will learn how to structure your ministry, gain leadership support, and how to utilized the DVD series. If you already have the DVD, you can purchase the Ministering to Stepfamilies DVD separately (see our Online Smart Store).
Articulate your vision to your ministry leader(s). Loan them your materials and ask them to review them. Then, discuss how your church might begin implementing some of the ideas. Let them know that you are serious about preventing redivorce (read this article).
Identify your ministry leadership. We recommend finding at least two couples who will share the responsibilities for organizing and carrying out the ministry. They need to be stable stepfamily couples who have weathered a few storms, but need not be perfect (who is?). Also, it's okay if one of the couples is not a stepfamily; they can facilitate discussion and personally relate to issues that all married couples face.
Consider hosting Ron's "Building A Successful Stepfamily" seminar to launch or supplement your ministry. Dozens of churches have begun their local ministry by hosting this event and announcing their intention to create an ongoing ministry. The publicity, marketing, and attention a stepfamily seminar creates is a great way to get your ministry off the ground.
Determine the best format for an educational group meeting. Some churches are creating Sunday morning bible classes for stepfamilies, others are utilizing Wednesday study times, while still others are organizing monthly meetings in someone's home. The culture of your church will need to be considered as you make your decision. Since this will be the crux of the ministry, make sure the leader is stable and capable of facilitating healthy dialogue. They do not need to have all the answers ("I don't know" is an acceptable answer), but do need to have a working knowledge of stepfamily dynamics and issues. This and similar topics are covered in the Understanding & Ministering to Stepfamilies audio seminar (included in the Building Your Ministry resource pack).
Use The Smart Stepfamily DVD as the curriculum for your class or small group. The Participant & Leader Study Guide walks you through the best way to teach this material.
A Great Follow-up Study: The Remarriage Checkup book has a free PDF study guide for group discussion. This is a great follow-up study to The Smart Stepfamily DVD.
Another optional set of materials for your group to study is the Smart Steps & Growing in Wisdom curriculum (available from the National Stepfamily Resource Center). This teach-out-of-the-box resource provides a comprehensive curriculum (detailed teacher guide, handout masters, videos, and CD with Power Point) for parents and children. In fact, it is the only curriculum we know of that provides training for children in stepfamilies. (We recommend alternating this material with The Smart Stepfamily DVD.)
One other curriculum resource is the video-based study by Carri and Gordon Taylor entitled Designing Dynamic Stepfamilies.This eight-session DVD series comes with a downloadable Christian Study Guide for group discussion or individual study.
For further reading and ministry preparation: 1) If you are a counselor, check out our Counselor Quick Links; 2) Pick up a copy of Divorce & Remarriage in the Church by David Instone-Brewer. This resource discusses theological and pastoral matters related to remarriage and stepfamily ministry.
In addition to the above resources, a complete listing of recommended web, book, and curriculum resources for stepfamilies and stepfamily ministries has been compiled for you. Find it here.
Contact us today about the possibility of hosting a conference. Together, you can make a difference in the lives of God's people.
From the Ministry Feedback file...
Just a note of encouragement. We started our stepfamily ministry in the fall of 2002. We have twenty or so couples who attend on a somewhat regular basis on Sundays and for monthly social activities. We have used your book to teach class a class for several months. We also used the book for a six week workshop as an outreach program. Several non-churched families attended the workshop and have started to attend the Sunday morning class.
Many of our families have changed so much of what they do and how they act because of you and your book. Thank you so much. Marriages have been saved and even more important, some lives are being opened up by the Holy Spirit.
Dave Williams Canton, Ohio
One year after conducting a seminar in Houston at the 15,000 member Second Baptist Church, this feedback about their newest class came across my desk:
"The class is going great. We had 25 last week. There is a real level of commitment from the couples that are attending. Thank you so much for the material and the insight. Kelly and I are so grateful to be able to share with the couples and to provide hope...I've not seen a group gel this quickly. It's going to be great to see how God is going to use this. We look forward to each week. Thanks again for all you have done to make it possible."
"Nothing prepared me for what I have experienced as a stepmother over the last almost 12 years. It has been one of the most challenging, painful, lonely, difficult experiences of my life... It has also been one of the greatest learning experiences I have had—and much of that is due to the hope and knowledge I have received from reading your website, your books, and recently participating in a webinar... I am grateful that you have made your life’s work providing resources, direction, information, and hope for the many people struggling with stepfamily issues. With gratitude I am making a donation to the Stepping Forward Campaign."