DBS PACO 603-Spring 2017

Discussion Board Topic 1

What is the status of premarital counseling in your church/community? What level of importance does your church place on the institution of marriage, and are they doing anything creative to support young marriages?

What is the status of premarital counseling in your church/community?

Faith Ridgeland Baptist Church (also known as Faith Ridgeland) utilizes the following protocols for premarital counseling. Pastor Henry Criss iterated that the church does not have an established protocol for premarital counseling; however, Faith Ridgeland has a developed a letter that each premarital couple receives who is interested in their marriage ceremony conducted at Faith Ridgeland.[1] Pastor Henry declared that the practice of the fellowship deems it inappropriate to marry individuals who are non-believers.[2]Pastor Henry iterated that the letter explains the Southern Baptist Convention Article XVIII’s position on marriage and the sanctity of marriage on the couple’s insistence that they are believers and still wish to be married by Pastor Henry, Pastor Henry then sets up an appointment to meet with them.[4]  At that point, the contents of Article XVII: subsection marriage is discussed at length with the couple.[5]

Steps were taken to support premarital counseling.

The next step requires the couple to procure premarital counseling from a licensed pre-marital counselor. Due to the location of the church, and the fact that licensed counselors are forty or more miles away from this small town, Pastor Henry mentioned that an alternative methodology for counseling requires the couple to meet with him for several sessions.[6] During the sessions, the counseling model uses the book “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Dr. Gary Chapman. Pastor Henry uses the Leader’s Guide to facilitate the sessions.[7] A letter of referral from the couple’s pastor is required before the ceremony is performed to ensure that they are indeed baptized members of the community of faith. The other Baptist churches in the county follow a similar process but may utilize a different book.

Ongoing support for young couples.

An essential component of a strong marriage is posited in the inerrant Word of God.[8] Hawkins declared that the key concepts of entailed in a strong healthy marriage include “ intimacy, commitment, wisdom’s directives, reality, God’s sovereignty, the person, sexuality, communication, and companionship.”[9] The pivotal ingredient for strong Christian marriages is the realization that marital intimacy and strong successful marriages do not occur outside of God’s sovereignty. Understanding one’s future mate’s personality style, coping mechanisms, and also how they handle stress – prior to marriage eliminates the leap of faith that couples take when they do not participate in pre-marital counseling that discusses these traits.[10] Pastor Henry supports young couples by utilizing resource books that support relationship building.


  • [1] Henry Criss, interviewed by Joyce Gerald, Faith Ridgeland e-mail interview, Hardeeville, South Carolina, March 20, 2017.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3] Southern Baptist Convention, “Report of the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee: Article XVIII The Family,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000, Marriage, accessed March 20, 2017, http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp.
  • [4] Henry Criss, interviewed by Joyce Gerald.
  • [5] Ibid.
  • [6] Ibid.
  • [7] Gary D. Chapman, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married (Chicago: Northfield Pub., 2010), Facilitator’s Guide-Introduction. Some of the chapters in this book are very short; therefore the introduction to the facilitator’s guide proffers methods for combining the chapters “Some of the chapters of Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married are short, especially the first few. You might have your group be prepared to discuss two or three chapters per meeting at first and see how it goes. Be flexible.”
  • [8] Ronald E. Hawkins, Strengthening Marital Intimacy (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991, MBS Direct), 9.
  • [9] Ibid., 10.
  • [10] PREPARE ENRICH, Facilitator’s Manual (Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, LLC., 2015), 6-7, accessed March 20, 2017, https://www.prepare-enrich.com/prepare_enrich_content/training/facilitators_manual.pdf.



  1. Chapman, Gary D. Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. Chicago: Northfield Pub., 2010.
  2. Hawkins, Ronald E. Strengthening Marital Intimacy. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991, MBS Direct.
  3. PREPARE ENRICH. Facilitator’s Manual. Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, LLC., 2015. Accessed March 20, 2017. https://www.prepare-enrich.com/prepare_enrich_content/training/facilitators_manual.pdf.
  4. Southern Baptist Convention. “Report of the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee: Article XVIII The Family.” The Baptist Faith and Message. 2000. Accessed March 20, 2017. http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp.



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