Filling the "Donut Hole"
The FamilyLife Canada Marriage Mentoring Initiative is a response to thirty years of listening. Our work with couples and pastors identified a need to mobilize volunteer mentor couples. We recognized a gap in church marriage ministry; we call it The Donut Hole. Many churches offer both premarital counselling and crisis intervention; often, there is little in between. The “in between” is the average couple, who may need someone to discuss their marriage, an occasional tune up or outside perspective.
Neil and Sharol Josephson, National Directors of FamilyLife Canada, were family pastors in a large congregation. For that congregation of 10,000, they developed and implemented a successful marriage mentoring program. Consequently, they brought both their knowledge and experience to the FamilyLife Canada Marriage Mentoring Initiative. Along with Sylvia Thompson, a certified counselor, they developed mentor training and mentoring conversations based on Dr. Edward Gray’s 12 Conversations.
What are the benefits?
- For churches, Mentor Couples are a rich resource which expand the church’s marriage intervention. The long term benefits of investing in younger couples, strengthens their marriages and ultimately alleviates the pressure on pastors to do all marriage enrichment in the congregation. Stronger couples, become stronger parents and families, which eventually strengthens the overall church community.
- Pastors no longer carry the entire responsibility of marriage intervention/counseling within the congregation.
- Personal growth for the mentor couple as they share their marriage story is a further benefit we’ve observed, strengthening the marriages of mentors and mentees alike.
How does it work?
- Training: Mentor Couples couples receive very effective video training. Both the time (three hours) and cost are minimal.
- Timeline: The two couples commit to meeting once a month (approximately) for one year, and choose from 14 conversation topics (listed below). Each topic supports a healthy marriage with a conversation guide and a take home project.