Premarital Counseling Assessments

Leader Resources, Marriage and Family

Through the spring and early summer, odds are you have attended a wedding or two and perhaps led the ceremony.  Such good times!  And as you know, these times of immense excitement also bring anxieties about the readiness of the couple for this lifelong journey.  I have experienced this concern from the couples wondering if this is right and if they are ready.  But there are others who also want the best for them and want to help them be prepared, including their families and ministers.

If you are responsible for working with couples on this important part of the journey, there are tools out there that are great resources to assist you!

These premarital counseling tools can help you:

  • Assess couple preparedness/success for marriage:  Wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly assess strengths and weaknesses for this particular couple in the area of finances, romance, communication styles or family background to name just a few?  Wouldn’t it be a blessing to have a “dashboard” warning so to speak of issues that could cause grief for this couple in the years ahead?
  • Manage the counseling sessions: It can be intimidating for ministers to think of how to structure premarital counseling – what should be covered, how long the sessions should be, how to find and ask the right questions, and give the right coaching exercises.
  • Launch the couple with tools for the future:  How fulfilling would it be to give resources and concepts to the couple for the journey ahead!  Assessments like the ones I’ll mention give practical help to daily life like budgeting, dating and romance, conflict management, healthy communication and spiritual growth!

Back in 1995 I was introduced to my first premarital counseling assessment called Prepare-Enrich and I have used it for many years.  It is extremely helpful and very thorough asking the couple to individually rank “most like me, least like me” type questions about finances, physical intimacy, family background, personality, communication and conflict management to name a few.  The concept is this, while you could spend hours asking questions of the couple about the previous list, you would then also need to work to figure out what are areas of strength and what areas need attention because they could cause trouble.  For this assessment and the next, they do this task for you.  This is not about ease, but rather about precision.  Why talk in length about financial management if the assessment shows this is not a great area of concern for that particular couple?  I also like that it allows me the opportunity to simply reflect back to the couple, “Here is an area that we need to address, because you indicated disagreement about this statement on the assessment.”  This is far different than, “I think you have a problem here.”  There is cost involved and an amount of training to be a facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich tool.  Walter Mullican here in Oklahoma is a great contact for how that works.

But, I have added a new assessment as an option and I have been using it most recently with my premarital couples.  Developed by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, it is called SYMBIS, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.   I like the fresh view that it gives in its format and delivery, and while much of the content would be the same as mentioned above (as with all premarital content), how it shares it is fresh and I believe unique.  In short, the bonus for me with SYMBIS is that its up to date personalized report for the couple is thorough and available for them through the sessions.  The facilitator report and guide is also very thorough and walks you through each session’s content.  Prepare-Enrich is also thorough and provides workbooks and reports, but to me it seems to take a bit more searching for and connecting of the areas that need to be addressed.  As with Prepare Enrich, there is training and cost involved to become a SYMBIS facilitator.  Dr. Parrott leads the online training through recorded video segments and brief content mastery quizzes.  Either way you go on the assessments, the cost is worth it, the training is worth it.  You’ll be glad you did, and the couples certainly will be as well!

Share in the comments of any tools for this aspect of ministry you have found useful!  Keep at it!

Leader Resource: Church Answers

Leader Resources

As you minister in the local church, you likely grapple with issues and are responsible for leading in areas that range from the health of your ministry’s discipleship and evangelism to risk management and campus security.  You likely wrestle personally and with others on your church staff about church vitality and day in and day out operations.  Are there answers out there?  Is anyone having conversations about current needs and trends?

As I have scanned the horizon for resources that are solid, I continue to be grateful for how Thom Rainer shares his insights on church health and leadership.  Many would be familiar with books he has authored like I Am a Church Member, Simple Church and Transformational Church.  But I want to highlight a couple of resources beyond these solid books.

One is thomrainer.com.  There are varied outlets here from the blog to podcasts.  The links and resources are strong, but most importantly this resource is free.  I appreciate this site and it has a permanent home in my tabs.

A click up from this free site is a new (to me) resource I have been using for the past couple of months.  It also has a home in my tabs, churchanswers.com.  No matter the church size, and no matter the location, as you connect online with this resource you will be part of a monthly “virtual staff meeting” with Rainer and other leaders.  Each month he walks us through a current issue within the church.  Let’s say you cannot make that meeting – every meeting and all resources connected to that meeting are archived on the site.  Beyond the “virtual staff meetings” are other resources, like a leadership forum where you can easily find conversations and content related to a myriad of issues.  Check it out.

Thanks Dr. Rainer for the resources.  And minister, thanks for leading!  Keep going!  Please comment on any of these resources, but especially share about anything you have found that is helping you in ministry.

Southern Baptist Convention 2018 – Dallas

SBC

My family and I returned to the SBC this year in Dallas.  My parents attended as well as messengers from their home church.  Mom and Dad talked with me today about the US Vice President speaking to the convention Wednesday and the stir that created (security etc).  But we hearkened back to a 1976 appearance of our US President when we were present at that convention.  Obviously, I have been to a few SBC’s through the years!  US Politics aside, this convention did not fail to have its ups and downs, times of encouragement and discouragement; things to praise and things to confess and repent.  But, overall I left this year’s Southern Baptist Convention heartened and encouraged about our future.  Why?

Clear mission.  While a massive entity made up of thousands of churches representing millions of people, the SBC is bulky and perhaps clunky, but healthy.  My home church sent voting messengers to the meeting, as all SBC participating churches can and should.  For the differences among churches and individuals, we clearly unite around the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.  And, we are clearly united around partnering together to send that message globally.

Clarifying meetings.  Beyond our unifying mission, churches that comprise the SBC give financially through the Cooperative Program. By the Lord’s hand, the CP funds our efforts to partner together to equip, resource and deploy our energies in the Great Commission.  This happens through Mission Boards, Seminaries, our voice in the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and through powerful ministry aid like Disaster Relief.  Our annual meetings shine a light on that work; accountability if you will.  The older I get the more I realize everyone has a boss.  Listen, all we do in the SBC can be clarified or called into question by any messenger at any microphone at our annual meetings.  This is good.  In the end, we all get the privilege to show up, pray and worship at our gathering, listen, give input or speak up if needed, and most importantly vote.  I heard one fellow mention, “this is why we don’t do business meetings at our church anymore.”  Really, that is sad.  Our polity and local ecclesiology is set up to be quite flat and in the end, purposefully shared.  An influential pastor in my life realizes the importance of this shared responsibility in business meetings in the form of forcing communication.  If decisions are going to be made – the content about those decisions must be shared.

Humble Champions.  Look, no one is or should be an idol and no one should be put on a pedestal.  AND it is refreshing and encouraging to find faithful leaders who are compelling us to the future.  Number one, there are the 79 we sent to the nations, leaving heart and home to share the Gospel.  There were the heartfelt stories of the Pomeroy’s of FBC Sutherland Springs, TX who have ministered faithfully in the midst of unimaginable grief and are pressing on to a new day!  There were the bold, transparent and solid words of our Seminary Presidents like interim SWBTS president Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, in the wake of a tide of sobering, bold and clear needed changes.  And many more are faithfully following Christ and serving!  Listen, I thank the Lord for H.B. Charles, Bart Barber, J.D. Greear, Felix Cabrera, Russell Moore, Tate Cockrell, David Platt, and many many more, faithfully following Christ.  And there are those who serve that are not on the platform so to speak – champions that serve on the committees and boards of the SBC bearing as we have seen in recent days, burdens of responsibility that create personal anguish and the need for bold decision making – for no pay, no accolades, and perhaps no recognition.

I’ve been going to the SBC for over 40 years.  We have weathered much through the years.  There will be more storms ahead.  But, as Augie Boto reminded us, this old ship is sturdy, and at the helm are new vibrant leaders humbly following the Lord.  I hope and pray when Jennifer and I join in the convention halls with our kids and grandkids in the future we also reminisce about this current group of leaders, commission new servants in the Kingdom, and commit to stay focused on the Word and the Gospel.

Welcome!

Hey there!

Thank you for checking out the website.  I am grateful you are here and I hope you are encouraged by the insights and resources that I have found.  Please take a moment to share insights that you have gained as well! 

My wife Jennifer and I have been married for 25 years, and have two awesome teenagers.  I have been blessed to be in ministry for almost 30 years.