Guest post by John Poitevent
In an informal study, Eric Swanson visited 100 church websites to see what they had to offer those looking for help with their marriage. You might be surprised at what he found, and you can read the whole article here: "What I learned about Marriage Ministry after looking at the Websites of Outreach’s 100 largest churches" But I want to be sure you catch his final insights in the closing paragraph. As a pastor, it opened my eyes to how the statistics can deceive us.
"Why don’t 36% of the largest churches in America have marriage ministries? I think it may have something to do with a recent blog post regarding the percentage of happily married couples (http://leadnet.org/blog/post/what_percentage_of_couples_are_happily_married). Most ministry leaders misinterpret the divorce statistic. Ringing in their ear is the statistic that “40-50% of marriages end in divorce.” That is true. So when those leaders see that only a handful of couples in their church ended their marriage this year, he or she concludes, “We are doing way better than the population at large…we only had 2% of our couples divorce. That’s way better than the 50% average…probably it’s because around here, we preach the Word.” What they don’t understand is that of the 60 million couples in the U.S. only 1.8% will divorce in any given year. That’s the stat to compare the church’s divorce rate to…not the 50% of marriages that end over the life of the marriage."
Prior to his current role as Leadership Community Director for Leadership Network, Eric Swanson served with Campus Crusade for Christ for 25 years. Eric is co-author of The Externally Focused Church (Group Publishing 2004).