April 12 and 13, “Engagement Matters,” the last in the trilogy of HIM-sponsored, love-centered conferences, was held in the Weston home of Doug and Julie Macrae. The very interactive and enthusiastic group of 17 couples, only a third of whom were already engaged, openly tackled issues related to marriage with great questions, active listening, and honest responses.
The Engagement Matters team includes Nate and Jeannie King and Doug and Julie Macrae, who provide some of the teaching and all of the hospitality. Their open and honest testimonies and insights were once again really appreciated by the attendees. Doug and Julie’s skit on how to have a “Super Bowl Marriage” was both humorous and instructional.
We love this weekend, because we believe that good premarital preparation paves the way for stronger and more vital marriages. We love helping couples to think about issues often overlooked or glossed over in the blush of young love. We love seeing them respond to truth and be willing to re-think previously held positions. We love to give them a vision for the goodness of God’s design for marriage and to give them practical, Biblical instruction on how to live out the design.
One of the couples who attended the weekend was a young woman and her boyfriend, neither of whom profess a personal faith. They were “gifted” the conference by her aunt. Afterwards she wrote:
“Overall this weekend was really amazing. It made both of us think about a lot of tough things and prompted conversations on marriage, faith, bringing up kids, cohabiting etc. We talked a lot about getting engaged and married and our future plans this weekend. It was really nice because usually I am the one spouting off plans and ideas and he is usually the one to just listen-with half an ear. But I think all of this has helped him to realize what it is he really wants in this relationship. This weekend proved to me that I really want to have a better connection with God and to find a church where I feel a sense of community, support, love and understanding. All in all, I guess I am just going to continue to pray that we both find answers and gain deeper insight to all of this. Thank you so much for giving this to us—it has helped open our eyes to new things and to each other.”
And a pastor wrote:
“Just wanted to let you know that the four couples from our young adults fellowship who attended Engagement Matters were really blessed by their time with you. Some of them thought it would be just another touchy-feely, relationship thing, but I strongly encouraged them to attend. They were all very happy that you were so biblical, wise, and practical in your counsel. They came away with a lot to think about but also a lot more confident about their relationships and the direction they need to take. Thank you for helping me give them a good foundation for their relationships.”
What a privilege to influence and encourage couples like this towards the heart of God and towards His design for marriage. We believe there are three equally good potential outcomes of the weekend: confirmation to move towards marriage; caution to slow down and address issues; or concluding that marriage is not the right choice. Though painful to arrive at option number three, we assure the couples that discovering that this side of the altar is far less painful than on the other side. We pray that each couple would leave the weekend more convinced than ever that God’s design for marriage is good and that paying attention to His instructions will be the best way to live.