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A Long Beach, California, pastor challenged couples in his congregation who were living together to get married. Four did.

Mike Goldsworthy of Parkcrest Christian Church led the weddings in October, along with his associate pastors. They took turns administering the vows to the couples in a big, four-way ceremony. It was his effort to show that marriage is essential for Christian couples, and still viable. He told the couples that a wedding is not simply a formality.

"We believe that God's plan for a couple is not to be living together, but marriage," Goldsworthy told the couples, most of whom had been cohabitating for years and were raising children.

The church's intention was not to make people feel guilty, he said. "We as a church are supporting these four families, encouraging them to succeed in their life-long commitments. It took a lot of courage and desire to make this public declaration of marriage, and we are thankful to be a part of their lives."

The free wedding—which included a reception and individual wedding cakes provided by church members—was incentive enough for one groom, who had proposed to his long-time significant other at their son's first birthday party.

"I was just excited," one bride told the LA Times. "I've been wanting to marry this man now for 13 years."

Parkcrest's wedding bonanza comes as marriage rates drop and cohabitation rises, even among church attenders. Goldsworthy said the church might offer more free weddings in the future. "I already have one other couple who is ready to marry if we do this again," he said.

Church Growth

What I learned from André the Giant

"If the local church is truly the body of Christ, then we have to believe that overgrowth is just as problematic as anemia. We have to peel back the growth question a few layers and ask a new one: Is our body growing in a healthy way? Are the building blocks of our organization solid or weak? Is our DNA healthy? Or are there overriding dysfunctions that will take a good thing (i.e. growth) and pervert it into a bad thing?"

Password Protected

Bad news. Your tech person is going to leave. You know, the one who maintains your website or prepares multimedia stuff for worship. The one with all the passwords.

Before that happens, Kevin Hendricks advises drafting a transition plan. "Come up with a list of things that need to change during a transition—from passwords to Facebook permissions to staff lists on the website." Create a list with passwords, URLs, and log-in info, and store it somewhere safe. Also, outline how each project gets done and the training needed for the replacement person.

No one wants to think about replacing the key holder, but it's going to happen one day. "Just plan for it so you're not expecting the rookie to work miracles on the first day when he's still learning how to punch in."

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Related Topics:DivorceEvangelismMarriage
From Issue:The Outreach Issue, Winter 2012 | Posted: February 13, 2012

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Ministry Meltdown

Ministry Meltdown

When ministry turns you into a monster, the answer is not to suck it up and work harder.

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