Mark your calendars!
Our church in Shorewood Illinois is going to run another 9 week study of Fall In Love Stay In Love beginning on Wednesday January 20th, 2010 at 7:00pm. My wife and I will be leading.
Contact me via email (addy in my sig line below) for details, directions or a link to the church's website.
We will also be running a biweekly small group study based on material from Family Life (Dennis Rainey) called "Home Builders." This will be handled in a small group setting in several homes of members of the congregation with various facilitators and the plan is for the groups to move from home to home for the meetings. There will be more than one group and might be different nights and times available.
We are also planning a group (with group discount) trip to the Family Life Weekend to Remember in Oakbrook, Illinois this spring.
If you know anyone you think would benefit from any of these things refer them to my email or contact me for more details.
And the rest of you pray for this next round to go even better than the first...
Is this something you took on yourself or do you work with MB?
I'm interested in doing something like this in our community.
No, I don't work for MB. I'm just a cell phone and two-way radio guy. We recognized a need within our church and community and set about trying to build a marriage ministry. Drop me an email and I'll send you my breakdown of the book. I selected FILSIL because it includes everything in one book that you need to implement Marriage Builders including the questionnaires.
Teaching is easy for me as the result of doing it as a Sunday school teacher for many years. Having studied MB for a while and seeing how it worked in our marriage led me to begin with it rather than a lot of other stuff that's out there right now. Our pastor is heading up the Home Builders stuff and I am handling the MB end of things. We're looking at what we are going to do going forward, but it is sure to include a bunch of small groups.
Round 1 went really well. We even had a get together a couple of weeks ago with the group that went through it the first time. If this time goes as well as the first, we're all set...
Fabulous idea. Kudos to you for undertaking this program. I am sure it will touch many lives.
Are you going to start over on HNHN, or continue on from where you left off? Is this the same group, or a new group?
New group studying FILSIL again. The first group is planning a get-together for this Friday (Jan 1).
We also have 4 spin-off groups that are being facilitated by those in the first group that will focus primarily on the [i]Home Builders[i] material and will include couples that were not part of the first group or second group of FILSIL couples.
Bump for the mid-week crowd...
Bump for the weekend warriors...
One week till we start this next round of Fall In Love stay In Love. Books will be available if you don't have one. If you have a copy and plan to attend, read the first three chapters.
Email me if you need more information.
Last bump for this.
We'll be kicking this thing off on Wednesday night at 7pm CST.
Email me for directions if you'd like to attend.
I still have few books left as well.
Bumping again because of the time lost the last couple of days.
Email me for directions or the link for the church website.
We start in less than 24 hours!
Okay, Mark, tell us what is different from this round of classes, the mix of those from the first class and newcomers, and how it is going.
We had an ice storm of sorts on Wednesday night which kept some folks home for the evening.
One couple that came REALLY needs to learn this stuff. I have known him for about 3 years and have been trying to get him to look at MB the whole time I have known him.
They both put their cell phones on vibrate and the entire hour and a half they were in the room with us one or the other was looking to see who was calling. He's in Conflict; she's in Withdrawal and they each carry so much resentment that I'm surprised they even made the effort to make it. (They were late and arrived in separate vehicles.)
The one thing that is already different, other than being a smaller group so far is that my wife told her story of how we have come back from the brink using MB concepts. It was week two when prompted by questions in the first class, but she basically volunteered the info this time in the very first meeting.
My wife and I are also meeting with a couple we know. They can't make Wednesday nights, so we are basically doing the FILSIL book with them at another time.
The Friday night groups that are meeting in homes of members that are studying the Home Builders material kicked off last week and we have about 20 people at a "Grace Based Parenting" seminar this weekend. Our first time MB class is planning a February get together/reunion.
Good stuff is happening in Shorewood, Illinois...
God is GOOD!
I got some photos of the ice from rural Iowa. Yikes! Deer frozen solid, and every strand of barbed wire as thick as your little finger with ice. It reminded me of an ice storm we had when I was about 13 that lasted 7 days, followed by a day of snow. We were without power for most of the time. When it came on, we ran water into buckets and jars, then took a bath really fast in case it went off again. And we ran all the troughs full of water for the livestock, about 200 head of cattle and 8 horses, that we had driven up to the barn so we could keep them fed.
It sounds like you have a whole new group. Are the members of the first group continuing on with the concepts on their own, or in another class? It would be hard for me to do that in a class with my friends. But, then again, I can't even get my wife to pick up the book.
Our "ice storm" was pretty benign IMO. My wife and I both drove there, her from home after getting off work and me straight from work. The roads were slick but not impassible. You just have to remember that as traction falls off, nothing can happen instantly. (Slip angle drops to near zero for the racing and engineering fans) I once had a tricked out Mustang GT as my daily driver. It taught me all sorts of stuff about doing things gradually.
The old group is getting together about once per month so far and some of them are attending the "Home Builders" groups, one couple leading one in their home. The last night I gave my "Nike" speech (Just DO it...) and some folks have told others that the class might have saved their marriage. We all see each other a time or two per week anyway, so we chat about stuff all the time.
One of the things that makes doing this thing with friends easier for me is that I pretty much stuck with Dr Harley's stuff. We brought up some other things along the way and discussed the concepts in pretty great detail but this wasn't an infidelity recovery group, simply couples wanting to learn how to improve their marriages. I also have been a leader in this church since 1992 going back to our founder and through two subsequent pastors. I also did a share of the preaching for almost three years and still preach every once in a while. So a lot of these people know me as a teacher.
Now there are few couples that I'd like to kidnap and force to attend the class...
We'll see what the turnout is this week. If people get too far behind it gets hard to catch up without slowing down the rest. Since I have nine weeks, I pretty much have to stick with my schedule.
How did Marriage Builders get introduced to your church?
My church has been doing very little "mission work" to its own. A few of us have finally persisted in putting together a financial and career counseling group for church members and anyone else who wants to join.
I want to introduce Marriage Builders in my church. For all I know, there may be other members of the congregation who are familiar with Dr. Harley, and even trying to implement the principles in their lives.
I was thinking of donating the books to the church library, and then maybe the DVD courses, so I thought I would ask you, and anyone else, if they had experience doing this in their church.
Our pastor was at least marginally familiar with the work of Dr Harley. He and I had been discussing starting a marriage ministry for some time and for some reason we could never get down to the nuts and bolts of how to do it.
Then early last fall we had a sudden surge in marriages in crisis. It became a priority for all of us in leadership and I suggested Dr Harley's materials. Rather than buy the DVD or CD series, I took on the task of figuring out how to teach through Fall In Love Stay In Love in the time we had available to us. I picked FILSIL because it is really the whole MB program in one book.
My intent was to teach MB to a group of folks who would then transfer that knowledge to others, and that seems to be something that is happening. We had such a great time in the first group that the people who attended the first class get together once per month for some sort of social event, usually at the home of one of the couples. We have some couples who now attend the church after becoming aware of us first through the class and at least two couples now attend together though the husbands did not attend before coming to the class.
One of the couples in the current class is attending for the second time and they are a great help in explaining the stuff to the others. I think they should do their own class next. They read here, so they can think about it...
When we got ready to do the class we bought books in bulk and made them available. We sold more books than we had couples attending the class. We promoted the class for a few weeks with announcements and short messages about the class. I also produced a 1 minute video commercial spot that we ran as part of the general announcements for three weeks in a row.
Another church may have me come do the whole class for some of their folks next and we're looking at a two weekend sort of seminar format version as a possibility. I'm thinking about 4 hours on two Saturday mornings, either two in a row or every other weekend. Not sure on this yet, but we're kicking it around.
Why not go to your pastor and ask to do a class based on FILSIL. It's really just guiding people through the book, filling out the ENQ, LBQ and PHQ at the appropriate time and asking questions to get them to think about what they have read.
Easy for me since I taught Sunday school for years, have done a bit of preaching in my time and have access to the pastor by virtue of being one of the Elders of our church.
If you want to do a class yourself for your church, I'll do whatever I can to help you out. Let me know what you need and I'll try to get it to you.
If you do the 2 weekend thing, let me know. I have some North Suburb friends who would probably attend--although they are also thinking of attending an MB weekend, so... that could be a factor.
Anyway, let me know! :-)
Mark, I appreciate the quick reply. I logged out right after posting my questions, and just got back to the computer after working outside all day, clearing brush on the first nice day we have had in a month.
I was looking for something less bold than your suggestions.
First, I couldn't teach the class, because I have quit trying to get my wife to even read the materials. That is how I came to be posting here.
I know that you don't have to have a perfect marriage to know what one is, and how to have a better one than you have, but people expect the teacher or even the discussion leader to be a model of success. It's sort of like a course on improving your financial situation: people want to listen to a self-made millionaire who tells them how to do it without much effort yet can relate to all their insecurities, failures, problems, etc.
For the same reason, I could not even suggest the MB courses to my pastors. The first question is going to be, "How is it working for you and ____?" Also, I doubt they are familiar with Dr. Harley, and think they are too occupied with all the other programs on their plates.
So does your church require that you perfectly implement the bible in your own life before being allowed to teach about it or to tell others what you have learned about it?
My wife wasn't fully on board with MB until after she agreed to help me teach the class.
My pastor had marginal knowledge of MB, but his explanation when counseling me left a bit to be desired, IME.
The was I have my class laid out it is more about accountability to the group regarding reading the material, filling out the questionnaires etc than about sitting and listening to some boring lecture.
Can you explain POJA?
Do you have a working knowledge of the ENs and ENQ?
Can you explain Love Bustes in such a way that people will understand what a SD is, or what a DJ looks like? We can all identify the old AO when we see it, but why is IB so bad for a marriage?
You see, all the answers are really in the book. By asking the right questions you can get people to think about this stuff at a level that causes them to grasp the importance of living it rather than just knowing about it.
Without meaning to sound like I am in any way equating FILSIL to the bible, it is very much like reading the bible in some very important ways. The obvious lessons are just that, obvious and right out front where almost anyone can get their meaning.
But as you read the materials again, and discuss them with someone else who might have thought about them at a deeper level, you find that MB is like the old pealing an onion thing. We look at a layer, study it, grasp its significance, understand it and then discover that there is another layer underneath the one we just figured out and now we have to start all over again.
As far as proving the validity of MB to someone who knows nothing about it, you can't really do that very well anyway. In fact the process proves itself if you follow the steps.
My wife was far from into MB when our class started, but having read the book more fully than the first time she "glance at it" she was confident in the methods taught in the book to give a testimony in week #2 of the first class telling about how our marriage was nearly over, she was ready to walk away and it was my learning and applying MB to our situation that saved our marriage and made it better than it ever was at any time in our life together.
If you can get your wife to go through the material with you while the group is doing it too, it is really all you can do. The material makes the difference, as long as the facilitator can explain the nuances that some will miss the first time through.
Maybe our church is different because we have spent many years doing group bible studies where one person in the group might get one thing and someone else will see something else that was missed. A couple of us have been able to throw the Greek or Hebrew things into the mix and before long our DIY bible study is producing folks who understand subtle things that even some seminary graduates tend to miss.
Have you applied MB to your marriage? I didn't ask if your wife had, simply if you had done it?
Would you say that applying MB to your marriage has made your marriage better?
Would your wife agree that your marriage is better now? (Why she thinks so is not the key to understanding where this is going.)
If you understand MB, can explain it to others and have applied it to your own marriage and it has proven effective in improving your relationship with your wife, what else do you think you need in order to teach other people how it works so that they can benefit from the stuff you learned on your own or by having other less than perfect, sometimes inadequate and always amateur anonymous posters on the forums explain it?
Oh, I agree with you, Mark.
I just don't think my clergy would go for any member of the laity teaching anything. They are having enough struggle with having two stock brokers, an economist, a management consultant and a real estate developer lead weekly meeting on personal financial improvement.
I think my wife would scoff at the very I idea of the less-than-perfect husband like myself daring to teach others about marriage. Of course, that is not what it would be. As you say, it is leading a discussion from the teachings of someone who is an expert on marriage. Nevertheless, at this point, I don't feel qualified to or justified to consider taking such a lead, precisely because my wife doesn't see me as a great husband, and doesn't see Dr. Harley or Marriage Builders as being any different than John Gray, Dr. Phil, or those other popular authors.
So for now, I am going to just try to plant the seed by donating the books and CDs to the church library, where they will be highly visible on the New Books stand in the meeting room near the kitchen. Keep the support and ideas coming, and update us on what your group is covering each week. I am taking notes for when we do get an MB class going.
I would love to give a play by play of our weekly meeting here, but I don't think it would be appropriate as sometimes we actually discuss things that some people probably don't want made public. Part of the dynamic of a small group setting is in the way each member of the group feels safe to share what is really going on in his or her life and sometimes that means sharing things that might be embarrassing or less than something one might want to be public knowledge.
As a small group leader, it is a fine line that while not carrying the responsibility of being a professional counselor does carry some of the same ethical and moral obligations. Unlike this forum where we are as anonymous as we want to be, in a small group setting we see people face to face and when they share things with us that have directly touched their lives it is a trust that we simply can't betray if we really want to be able to help people.
As far as your church leadership and the dynamics there, I could probably write a book on what we have experienced at our church.
I don't think that ordination is the criteria for understanding the bible of the things of God. Even attending bible school is not something that is required as far as I am concerned in order to be able to teach others. I never went to school to learn the bible but I have studied it for about 40 years. I know enough (I took a class for two years) koine Greek to get by and know where to find the Hebrew that I need to figure out if something is missing in a passage that I don't understand.
Like I said, I could probably write a book about church leadership and have read probably over a hundred of them written by others. I think we might be on the right track since our numbers are growing in a town where church attendance is down almost everywhere. We are not "seeker sensitive" in that we don't dilute things or provide entertainment for people on Sunday morning. But people who find us seem to come back and our budget has doubled in the last three years almost all of the increase going to support things outside the church or at least things that touch those outside the walls.
I need to get back to work but drop me a line and we can talk about this off line if you'd like.
No, I wasn't expecting you to share anything about the actual discussions of the group members. I was thinking more about the syllabus or a synopsis of what you discuss each week, in order to see the game plan or the progression of topics and how fast the group moved.
Every denomination has its doctrine about the priesthood of believers, and every church and set of clergy have their own views on how much they want any lay person leading anything.
Because some of the discussions here move at such a good pace and delve into a lot of aspects from personal experience, I sort of hate to move any discussions out of sight from others. But I may e-mail you because I want my posts here to encourage you to keep everyone informed about your class, rather than diverting them into my personal questions.
Drop me an email and I'll send you my syllabus. I've already sent it to quite a few folks around here. What I really have laid out is simply a list of the chapters we will be studying each week with a pre-class reading assignment for folks as well as appropriate questionnaires and such.
My wife and I have developed a handful of visual things related to the Love Bank using a larger icecream container and the ENs printed on various sized pieces of paper.
There is no magic to the nine weeks we take for our class. Nine weeks was what we had available the first time so that is how I organized the class. I wanted to spend more time on each chapter and to be honest I might actually flip flop some chapters and do them out of order the next time I do the class.
The pastor of another church is visiting us this week to evaluate what we are doing and take it back to his church to see if they would like me to come teach a class there.
New class about to start.
I will need final class roster by the weekend and still have a couple of openings.
using HNHN and LBs along with other materials
Email me for more information ASAP so I can get the roster set in time to order stuff.
Still have some openings for the class...