"I am the Lord God of all humanity. Nothing is too hard for me."
The Crisis Marriages in Faith Communities Project came out of a professional and personal connection between Professor Bill Doherty of the University of Minnesota’s Couples on the Brink Project and Dr. George Kenworthy, an evangelical minister and founder of Hope for the Hurting Home, a nonprofit committed to helping crisis marriages. They were introduced by someone who thought they had more in common than either would have imagined.
They each saw limitations in how their respective communities, secular and religious, were dealing with marriages on the brink of divorce (crisis marriages- suggests a need for a quick and powerful/ special response). Bill was interested in seeing couples get values-based help in faith communities where they had relationships of trust. George was interested in improving how pastors work with crisis marriages by combining the best secular knowledge with the faith power of the evangelical Christian tradition.
Both Bill and George had a dream to impact culture on a large scale. They knew that this would require the faith based world to reexamine current approaches that leave pastors and other leaders struggling with how to help couples on the brink and shepherd hurting congregants.
George brought Bill together with a small group of evangelical pastors and lay professional leaders. This “think tank” met regularly from January 2011 until November 2012, and it included pastors from Lutheran, Presbyterian, non-denominational churches, and Evangelical Free churches. The group’s task was to create a practical way for frontline clergy to help crisis marriages. The principal vehicle became a protocol for brief “faith based discernment counseling” adapted from the counseling approach developed by Bill Doherty at the University of Minnesota. Members of the think tank began using the protocol in their congregations with good success.
Training of other pastors began in the winter of 2013, under the auspices of Hope for the Hurting Home. The expectation is that many faith traditions and denominations can adapt the discernment counseling protocol, which is a blend of secular and faith principles, to fit their own needs and desires to help crisis marriages.
VALUES IN FAITH BASED DISCERNMENT COUNSELING:
What we believe about marriage:
- God has given humanity the gift of marriage for His glory and our good.
- Healthy, life-long marriage has unique value for individuals, families and communities.
- Life-long commitment is especially difficult in today's throwaway culture.
- Children have an important stake in the health and endurance of their parents' marriage.
- Marital commitment brings obligations to work on a troubled marriage before giving up.
What we believe about divorce:
- Many of today's divorces could be prevented if both parties took steps to work on their marriage before it was too late.
- Typical marriage counseling available in most communities is not effective enough for many couples on the brink of divorce, especially when they differ on whether to try to save the marriage.
- Divorce is usually an attempt to solve a problem that people think can't be solved in any other way.
- Some divorces are unavoidable in order to prevent further harm in a destructive relationship.
- Some divorces are ultimately unavoidable because one party decides on divorce despite the wishes of the other party.
- Some people behave destructively enough over a long time that they lose their claim on their spouse's commitment.
What we believe about healing:
- God has the power to restore and rebuild andy relationship when both people are willing to follow His plan and pray.
- Human beings have the capacity to move past anxiety, distrust, and hostility and relate to each other from our highest selves.
- Restoring a marriage must not come at the expense of one of the partners. Love and fairness must go hand in hand.
- The key is mutual desire to restore the marriage to health.
- When both spouses devote themselves fully to work on restoring their marriage, with proper help they can usually make it.
WHAT IS FAITH BASED DISCERNMENT COUNSELING (FBDC)?
FBDC is a focused set of conversations designed to help a couple clarify their openness to saving their marriage. This counseling helps a couple decide if they will pursue marriage counseling to save their marriage. FBDC is a structured process, but it is NOT therapy. My role is to help THE COUPLE discern which path is best for them. I can't walk a path for a couple, but can walk with them. We will call on God's desire and power to help you make the best decision for you and for your marriage. Through the discernment process, we seek to go down one of three paths:
Path 1: Stay married the way your marriage has been. This is the stick-it-out path.
Path 2: Move toward separation or divorce, which is an option in front of you.
Path 3: Work on reconciling with good help, to see how God can help you create a healthy marriage that is good for both of you. This is the reconciliation path. A commitment is made to work on marriage for six months and then assess if marriage is viable.