Talking about marriage from the pulpit can be powerful. But what happens after you leave the Sanctuary? Who is there to help you find the hope for your marriage in the middle of whatever you’re facing? I think there are six reasons a Small Group makes a series on marriage effective:
1. Actually Talk About It
In the throes of daily life, one topic easy to avoid is our marriage:
- Our friends hear about our relationship with our boss
- Our husband hears about our relationship with our kids
- Our neighbors hear about our relationship with our dog
But perhaps no one is asking about our marriage. A marriage series changes that.
And a Small Group creates the unavoidable space to actually talk about God’s vision for marriage and how we are doing at stacking up to that high calling. It also puts flesh-and-blood people in front of us to help us apply the gospel to where we are failing.
2. Helps Us Apply, Not Just Talk
A Small Group is not just a Bible study. It is intentionally bent toward application: discussing how we can live out the truth we’re hearing.
Having others in a living room sharing how they can grow and inviting us to do the same helps God’s truth take root. And having other group members text me during the week to see how I’m doing at living out my words transforms those conversations into real-life decisions.
3. Understand One Another’s Stage
Not everyone in Small Groups is married. And thank God for that diversity.
Having those who have never been married, who have walked through the pain of divorce, or who are living out widowhood creates a powerful opportunity to understand the various stages of other’s lives. This is not just an opportunity for sensitivity, but also for curiosity, intentional inclusion, and beautiful humility.
Those in various stages can see marriage from different vantage points and create different ways to celebrate God’s powerful gift. They also display how the gospel unites believers in a family that goes beyond blood and wedding rings—a family that shares one Spirit (Eph. 4:4).
4. Open Up
When somebody asks me a question in Small Group, I don’t have any other choice but to answer. These conversations are when we can really open up about how we’re doing—either individually or as a married couple.
We can talk about those things that maybe we haven’t even verbalized yet. We can also let in other trusted friends on a journey that we feel like we’ve been walking alone as a couple.
5. Pray for One Another
Perhaps my favorite moment in our group’s gathering is prayer. Because it slides open the window to our hearts:
- What are we facing that we need God’s help with?
- What are we celebrating deep in our souls?
- Where do we need God to grow us as a couple?
Something changes when I ask other brothers to pray for how I lead my wife—especially when they actually do it! And I’m committed to praying for the marriages of the others that I do life with together, and I love seeing him show up.
6. Find Hope
Finally, having a group that we can walk through all of this with allows us to find hope together. We’ll find freedom from what has bound us, assurance where there was doubt, and power where there was weakness. Just as a three-cord strand is not easily broken (Eccles. 4:12), neither is a Small Group.