Finding Existing Programs in your Community

There are probably quite a few existing marriage-related programs
already in your community.  However these programs are likely to be
drastically under-utilized because so few people know about them.

Your website will help solve that problem.  Your first challenge is finding them
so that you can list them.

 The three initial approaches we suggest are:
1) Research national marriage-related programs;
2) Find local qualified Instructors of nationally recognized  Marriage Education programs;
3) Find marriage-related programs offered at local churches.

Let�s look at each of these in turn.

1) Research national marriage-related programs.  Check out the following
websites to see which national organizations may have marriage-related
events/groups/chapters near you:
A) www.engagedencounter.org  -  for Catholic Engaged Encounter weekends;
B) www.encounter.org - for United Methodist Engaged Encounter weekends;
C) http://216.170.58.5/interfaith/interfaith.htm - for a complete listing of all Marriage
Encounter weekends, in both English and Spanish, for all faith expressions.
D)  www.thethirdoption.com - the Third Option, beyond divorce or a miserable marriage.
E)www.bettermarriages.org - for the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment
(ACME)�s Marriage Enrichment groups;
F) www.retrouvaille.org - for Retrouvaille weekends for troubled marriages.
G)  www.familylife.com - for FamilyLife�s Weekend to Remember and other programs;
�  For additional programs, visit  www.smartmarriages.com. Click on "Directory" (in the left
column near the top), then click on "Search the Directory" and enter in the state that you are in,
and then click on "Search Directory". It's an expanding universe.

2) Find local qualified Instructors of nationally recognized Marriage Education programs.
There are a number of Marriage Education programs that have trained numerous Instructors
throughout the United States.  Many have website listings their Instructors.  Here are some of them:
A) For Certified Couple Communication Instructors, visit www.CoupleCommunication.com,
and select "Instructors Near You", and then select the state that you are in;
B) For PREP Instructors, visit www.PREPInc.com.  From the home page, select either
"Tools for Couples" or "Tools for Leaders", then "Directory of PREP & CPREP Leaders".
Then select USA, then click on your state.
C) For Relationship Enhancement Instructors, visit www.NIRE.org.  From the home page,
click on "International Directory of RE Providers", then click on your state.
D) For PAIRS Leaders, visit www.PAIRS.com.  Select "Directory of Educators"
from the drop-down box at the top right corner of the home page, then click on
"List by Location" for the three categories listed.
E) For PREPARE/ENRICH facilitators, visit www.LifeInnovations.com.  From the
home page, select "Find a Counselor", and then select the state you are interested in.
D) For FOCCUS/REFOCCUS facilitators, visit www.foccusinc.com
�  For additional programs, visit  www.smartmarriages.com. Click on "Directory" (in the left
column near the top), then click on "Search the Directory" and enter in the state that you are in,
and then click on "Search Directory". It's an expanding universe.

3) Find marriage-related programs offered at local churches.  A number of churches
offer marriage-related programs.  The trick is finding them.

Your first step should be to visit the website of the Marriage Savers organization at
www.marriagesavers.org to see if your community happens to be one of the 170+ communities
that have implemented a Community Marriage Policy (CMP).  If so, you are ahead of the game!
From that site's home page, click on "CMP Organizers: Current List of Contacts".  If you see your
community, or a nearby community, listed, we suggest you contact the person listed.  It is
possible that there is some kind of networking of marriage ministries already occurring that
they can inform you about.  Or they may be able to provide you with contact information about
the churches that signed their CMP. Either way, since this person took a leadership role in
organizing a community CMP, they obviously have a real heart for marriage and is someone
you will want to involve in your project.

For Orange County, which has not yet implemented a Community Marriage Policy, we found
the quickest way to find information on church-sponsored marriage programs was to search
the websites of the local churches. While not every church has a website, we have found that
churches that have websites are more likely to have marriage programs in place than churches that
do not have websites.  So if in your "first pass" you focus on the churches in your
community that have websites, you are likely to be focusing on the most likely candidates.
To find these websites we suggest taking the following approach.

Start by obtaining a list of churches in the city you are interested in.  Many chambers
of commerce have such a list, which they will fax to you if you request it.  This information
is also usually available from the local yellow pages phone book under "Churches".
Once you have the list, enter in the name of each of the churches (one at a time) into
your internet browser along with the City and State abbreviation (for example
"Victory Outreach" and "Carson, CA").  If the church has a website, it should show
up with this search.

An alternative approach is simply to enter in your City name and state abbreviation
along with the word "church" into your internet browser (for example "Carson, CA"
and "church").  This will likely give you more responses than you have time to check out,
but it is a good way to verify the completeness of the list you are working with.

Once you are at a church�s website, you can begin looking for marriage-related programs.
Many church websites have a tab to click on labeled "Ministries"; that�s a great place to start.
(Others may use the term "Activities" or "Current Events" or "What�s Happening".)  Within each,
you need to look for labels that could contain marriage-related programs.  Here are some examples:
-Some will contain obvious terms such as "Married Couples", "Marriage Ministry", or "Marriage" - all of
which will usually be quite promising;
- The term "Families" also may be used;
- Other possible candidates could be under headings of "Adults" or "Education";
- A "Support Groups" heading is worth checking out, since it may contain either a group
for Troubled Marriages or a Stepfamily Support Group;
- The label "Adult Bible Fellowships" or "ABF" is worth looking into, in particular to see
if there are any that are targeting  Married Couples, or some subset of Married Couples such as
Newly Married Couples, the dating or the engaged.

Once you find a marriage-related program, you should obtain permission to list it on
your website.  In addition to this being good internet etiquette, this is an important step
for you to take as you build your coalition, because this starts an e-mail dialog between
yourself and a likely and potential new member of your coalition.  After all, marriage ministries
are typically headed up by passionately pro-marriage people, and those are the type of people that
you are looking for in your coalition.

Below are two e-mails that we would send out once we find a marriage program at a local church:

First E-mail:

While visiting the website for ABC Church, I noticed that you have a Married Couples Retreat
scheduled for September 10th through 12th.   Is participation in that retreat restricted
only to members of ABC Church or is it open to other members of the community as well?
 Dennis Stoica
 Orange County Marriage Resource Center

After receiving a response to the first e-mail that indicates that the program in question
is open to "other members of the community", we would send out the following:

Second E-mail:

In the interest of strengthening marriages and reducing divorces here in Orange County,
we are in the process of putting together an internet website of as many marriage-related
programs and resources as we can find here in Orange County.  We would like to list your
Married Couples Retreat, if we could.  There is no charge to be listed on the website, and
we would remove it at any time in the future if you later asked us to.  Is it okay with you if
we list your Married Couples Retreat?
Dennis Stoica
Orange County Marriage Resource Center
 

One optional step is that in those situations where you don�t find anything marriage-related,
you may decide to send an e-mail to the church inquiring as to whether any marriage-related
activities exist.  If possible, we suggest sending that kind of an e-mail to a staff member that
seems to have responsibilities in a related field, rather than sending an e-mail to the general
e-mail address for the church.   Many church websites will provide a list of staff members with
their responsibilities which can be useful in this situation.  Here is a sample e-mail which we
have used for this purpose:
 

Subject: Marriage Ministry

Does your church have any marriage-related ministries in place or planned in the near future?
 In particular I am looking for ministries such as:
- Married Couples Retreats;
- Marriage Preparation Classes;
- Classes or Small Groups or ABFs for Married Couples;
- Anything for Stepfamilies or Troubled Marriages.

I would be interested in anything along any of the lines mentioned above.

Thank you,
Dennis Stoica
Orange County Marriage Resource Center

________________________________________________________________________
 

By following these steps, you are likely to find a number of marriage resources which already exist in your community.

Return to Orange County Community Organizing page.