This year I have the immense privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of four couples (I already did one in January, congrats again Charlie & Kalli!). One unique thing about these four weddings is that they all contain former students of mine! In two of the couples, both the bride and groom are former students! Being able to walk with students from 6th grade to marriage (and onward from there, Lord willing) is a peculiar blessing of youth ministry for which I am extremely thankful.
The excitement and joy isn’t as much about officiating the wedding ceremony (though that’s a privilege and a blast), but it’s more about preparing the young couple for their marriage. For me, the ceremony is nothing when compared to the marriage it creates. I love rejoicing with couples about the amazing gifts God has given them in one another. I thoroughly enjoy letting God’s Word shine on their relationship and instruct their future union. Helping couples learn how to communicate, love, and repent well is a particularly satisfying work for me knowing how beautifully it will pay off later on in their marriage. Leading a ceremony is fun, but helping to build the foundation of Christian marriages is the wonderful work I’m most excited for.
In a premarital counseling session I finished yesterday, I was reminded a truth I don’t think gets told enough. In his excellent marriage book, Love That Lasts, Gary Ricucci shares the following truth:
Friends, sanctification – becoming like Christ – is indeed a community project. And marriage, growing to represent Christ and the church, is every bit as much a community project.
The church is the place where marriages are fed and supported with truth. The local church is God’s primary context for the teaching and application of God’s word. As helpful as recorded messages, Christian media, conferences, and even books can be, the Lord has established the church as the central depository and dispensary of truth. If you truly want to mature as a husband or wife, if you want your spouse to spiritually thrive, if you want to see your family nurtured into the truth, the local church is your God given context.
Of all the leadership decisions I have made by the grace of God, the very best one has been leading my wife and family into our local church. Here we have remained for more than 28 years. We were married here, our children were born and raised and are now serving here, and as I write this, one child is just weeks away from being married here! We are part of it. It is a part of us and our entire family. For us, life, marriage, and raising children apart from the local church is literally unimaginable. Friends, this should be the norm, not the exception, for every Christian. And regardless of the cultural whirlwind around us, it is the local church – Christians living a shared life biblically before God and one another – that will ultimately secure the place and role of marriage and family from generation to generation. (Taken from Love That Lasts, p. 25).
How about you? Is your marriage meaningfully connected to a local church? Are their other Christians who are committed to the health and Christ-centeredness of your marriage? Are their pastors who watch over your marriage’s joy and purity? Do you children see how married folk ought to relate to the church by your example?
Take the invitation. Get your marriage planted in a church.