My husband, Jeremiah, and I always had a desire for our marriage to make a difference in the lives of others. We knew that God brought us together for a greater purpose beyond “us.”
Early in our marriage we had the opportunity to serve in an apartment ministry together. Our responsibilities were to facilitate community among residents, build relationships, host dinners and events, and share the love of Christ. We invested in our residents for two years and most of them were non-Christians.
The ministry was demanding with many hours to fulfill and events to prepare, organize, and implement. But during that time, our relationship grew leaps and bounds because we were on a mission together.
Expect opposition & conflict
We prepared food together, shared the gospel together, counseled others together, cleaned up messes together and more. Our purpose was to give our love away to other people and it changed us forever, especially when we received emails from residents and managers on how much our serving meant to them.
But serving alongside my husband in that capacity wasn’t always roses and sunshine. In fact, some of our greatest arguments happened just before an event. Our relationship got messy at times and we faced conflict on a regular basis.
We learned that when you’re attempting to accomplish something of eternal value for the Lord, you have to expect opposition and conflict—conflict that comes from both our internal ugly, sinful nature and that comes from the outside. Working through the conflict took effort and required a whole lot of humility, but so worth it.
Living on mission brings joy & significance
Presently, we’re on a new mission together of using our gifts in the local church. We’re so grateful that our experience in the apartment ministry set the foundation for how we wanted our marriage to look in the years to come—a marriage that wasn’t inwardly-focused but outwardly-focused. In other words, a marriage that was missional.
Choosing to have a missional marriage comes at a great cost because you have to sacrifice something—your time, money, convenience, and comfort. But the reward of living in obedience to God’s command “to go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19) brings no greater joy and significance to your relationship. You begin to realize that you’re doing what you were created to do, together.
So, how is living on mission actually fleshed out in everyday life? Here are a few practical ways you and your spouse can be on mission together:
- Open up your home. Invite non-Christians in your workplace, neighborhood, or kids’ school over for dinner. Feed them well and get to know them on a deeper level. Talk about your marriage and what God is doing in your life. Your kindness and hospitality will speak volumes.
- Put down the phone & pull out the earplugs. We’re a “plugged in” generation and we’re all guilty of tuning out. But in order to know what the needs are around us, we can’t be distracted by technology. Be fully present with the people around you (including your spouse!).
- Engage your waiter. When you’re out on a dinner date, let your waiter be a part of your relationship. Get to know him by asking questions. Find out if he has any needs and if you feel led, pray for him and share the gospel. Don’t forget to leave a good tip.
- Volunteer at local organizations and non-profits. These organizations exist all around your town/city and are usually in need of solid volunteers. And better yet- married couples. Seek out an organization that you and your spouse are both passionate about.
- Prepare & deliver a meal. Be watchful of who might be going through a crisis or simply struggling. Double up on a recipe one evening and give the other half away. Rally up your friends to contribute by creating a Care Calendar for the person/family in need. I can’t say enough about this one!
- Consider becoming a foster couple or adopting. Invest in the life of a child who desperately needs a loving home. Our friends Chase and Elizabeth have served as a foster couple for several years and it has also strengthened their love for one another (See video clip below).
- Plan to attend local events. Especially during this time of year, there are tons of festivals and celebrations going on. Check out your city’s website to see what’s going on and mark your calendar to attend something fun. Go with the purpose of reaching out to someone.
- Carry extra change. When you’re going shopping, keep extra change in your pockets with the intention of giving it away. Chances are you will run into a homeless person who can use it more than you.
- Start a playgroup. Our community group started a playgroup that consisted of all the moms we would meet randomly at local places like Chick-fil-a, the park, or mall. We would get together and meet every other week at a different house. It was great way to reach out and encourage fellow moms.
- Create an interest group or club. What are you passionate about? Photography, running, football, quilting, going green? Invite a few people who love what you do and do that thing together! You’ll have a blast doing what you love and reaching out.
I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to living missionally in our marriage. The best thing about serving people is that you don’t have to fly to another country to help someone in need. Needs exist all around you. You just have to be on the lookout for them. And pray. Pray a lot!
Watch how Chase & Elizabeth’s marriage has been strengthened since becoming a foster couple: