To minister means to serve. God put you where you are to serve — to be a blessing. It is a mistake to think of “Christian ministry” only as being a pastor or missionary, etc. Any time a Christian is serving (helping) people it is “Christian ministry.”
Your ministry is not limited to your spouse, but it certainly includes them.
God has not left you to struggle in this ministry on your own. He is with you, and in you, to work through you. God will help you. But you must allow Him to do so.
Building up and encouraging your spouse will also be doing yourself a favor. They will be more pleasant to live with when they are blessed, loved, and encouraged.
We spend lots of time trying to figure out how to be better spouses and have better marriages, but what for? Do we refine ourselves and our marriages to simply have better lives or is there some grander purpose we need to tune into?
I would certainly argue the latter: we aren’t called to follow Christ simply for our own pleasure. In fact, when we signed up to follow Christ we actually gave up all hope of normalcy as the world defines it (Matthew 16:24-25). We are called to follow Christ for two reasons: to experience his grace, and to extend His glory.
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
William G.T. Shedd
We need to un-dock our ships and get out on the open sea; the storms are greater but it’s what you’re made for!
So how can we minister through our marriages?
Begin with prayer. Ask the Lord to give you a vision for ministry to marriages that aligns with God’s word. Ask the Lord to reveal other lay couples who could join you in providing leadership.
Develop your vision for a marriage ministry. Your vision should answer the question, “Why is it important for you to minister more effectively to married couples?”
God wants to use our marriages to glorify Him in many ways. Of course, you and your spouse need to pray and discern what God is calling you to do personally. Here are just a few examples:
1. Mentor singles
When preparing for marriage, couples need to learn key principles about God’s purposes for marriage and about how to maintain a solid relationship. Preparing people for marriage will focus not only on the engaged couples in your church or community but also singles with hopes of being married one day.
2. Be mentors to a younger couple
This includes newlywed marriages. Those who have been married less than five years need to understand God’s design for marriage and how that will require them to make adjustments in their daily lives.
If you lead couples to intentionally and consistently build into their marriages, they tend to be more capable to persevere when times are not so good in their marriage.
3. Lead a Couples Small Group
The focus should be enriching all marriages. Your group should also serve as a support system. Uplift other couples if you notice that they are struggling in their marriage.
As you begin a marriage ministry, you may find you are not capable of supporting all marriages in crisis. Consider referring couples to local biblical counselors. Don’t feel like you have to do it all.
When we live for God we are ministers of His gospel, period. You don’t have to be a vocational pastor or licensed priest, we are all lay-ministers of Christ (“lay” comes from “laity” which means common people). Ministry is a byproduct of knowing God intimately and allowing Him to pour out through us.
I long for the day when Christian married couples en masse minister through their marriages. We aren’t called to simply love each other fully and end our mission there.
Let’s explore our callings and live to see Christ change our world through the work He does in our marriages!
What are some ways God has used you and your marriage to minister to those around you?