Churches that are “Available For Weddings”

The morning of Christmas Eve,  I was on my own in the car driving back from one of the many errands that I had to do. I drove past a church that I have actually been in a long time ago. It is small church on the corner of two very busy roads nearby. The church building itself doesn’t look to have changed much over the years. From the exterior, all looks the same.

I happened to glance over and notice that under the main sign of the church, there was a smaller sign that had obviously been created later and was hanging underneath. It simply stated:

Available for Weddings

As I said, I was in a rush from one place to another. The rush that I didn’t want to be in at Christmas time was upon me. All of the sudden I started to really ponder the simple three words that are in that sign. It began to make me sad.

At the next light, I sent a tweet:

I had a few questions from followers regarding…why?

The answer is somewhere in this:

First off, I took it negative… Why would this church need to advertise the fact that they are available for weddings… Must not be much going on inside if the need to advertise their building and facility has higher priority over some sort of description about their services, programs, people…

Almost immediately, and I kid you not, I felt as if God spoke to me “Andy, that’s what Church is about.”

This was when I got sad. I started to think about how many churches have it all wrong. We’re more worried about the insiders vs the outsiders. We’re competitive with other churches in the same area as we. We actually think that if we have a certain program or ministry, maybe we’ll get some folks from other churches to join us. We’re concerned about finances, numbers, programs, staff, worship style, creative direction… Ugh. Where’s the concern for the lost.

Weddings are meant to be parties. Their Celebrations. We don’t celebrate enough.

We “insiders” are already at the wedding feast. We’ve already received the invitations and even while we’re here on earth, we’re the bride of Christ.  Instead of celebration we often create environments that are uninviting. We put all sorts of hurdles and obstacles in front of  those who need to meet the Groom.

Does that make sense? I’m still developing my thoughts around this, which I am sure are influenced by many factors. I try to make sure that everything that I believe is Biblical and keeping with how God speaks to me and others who are also seeking his direction.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Churches that are “Available For Weddings”

  1. I have some mixed feelings about this. One the one hand I know a guy in Vegas that runs a wedding chapel. He has told me he does more outreach through the wedding chapel than any church job he has ever done. No comparison. (He also was able to fund another ministry to low income immigrant workers in Vegas entirely through the profits of the wedding chapel.)

    On the other hand, I do think that weddings should be about a community. So I want churches to really pay attention to being a support (long term) to the couple. And I believe in long term mentoring and teaching is really the better method of pre-marital counseling (not two or three sessions after they have already decided to get married (and in many cases already sleeping together.) So marrying people outside the church doesn't really accomplish that.

    On the third hand, as a pastor's kid I know I answered the phone on at least two occasions where people asked if my father would marry them. They have been rejected at other churches. In one case it was because they were an interracial couple (in the north in the late 1980s) and I don't remember the reason for the other. I can tell you when I was rejected for adopting a puppy (the puppy was 8 months old, but we were rejected by the humane society because there was not someone that would be a stay at home parent. Being a student and living in student housing on campus was not considered stay at home enough. We went to the pound and adopted a 4 month old puppy no questions ask, for half the cost. But I have never really had positive feeling about the humane society since. How much more would people have long term feelings of rejection because a church (the place where you are supposed to be married) will not marry you.

  2. Andy, good thoughts about the church.

    I've struggled with the wedding issue over the past year in trying to come to a conclusion as to who I would marry and who I wouldn't as I move to the pastorate one day. These are the kinds of choices you have to make ahead of time instead of in the moment. I agree that advertising for weddings is sad. The perception is that the church needs money and is trying to drum up some business by advertising itself to the public for the act between a man and a woman that is supposed to represent Christ and the Church.

    I agree with the second point Adam_S made but disagree with point three. The church should ask tough questions of those who are wanting to be married. A minister has an obligation to ask questions of those who (or whom??) he is joining together in "holy matrimony." For instance, if a believer who is a member of the church is engaged to marry a non-believer what should the minister do? Simply marry them because they are "in love?" What about two non-believers who are not members of the church but can write the check to pay for the usage of the building? I realize that this is a dividing line for many churches and pastors. I have decided that I will not marry a couple if they are not both believers and have not completed pre-marital counseling. Strict? Probably. But why not be? Marriages fail all the time because of unequal yolks and unrealistic expectations. We should be strict and should ask hard questions. However, I would not choose to flat out reject non-believers. I would definitely use that as a chance to share the gospel through the lens of what marriage represents. The church should welcome in the lost, but not simply because you're "supposed to get married in a church." Christians should, but we've turned the Christian tradition into an American right. Churches must have integrity when it comes to marriage by fighting for pure marriages full of integrity from the very beginning – the wedding ceremony. We'll fight against gay marriage but we won't fight for pure marriages between a man and woman. Just my thoughts.