Why We Do Weddings

Relational Evangelism (Sometimes called Friendship Evangelism)

Why do we do weddings? Clergy Support Memorial Church has chosen this model of Relational Evangelism as a method of outreach for church growth.

Let us begin with an outrageous but true claim. ‘Over the past twenty years, Clergy Support Memorial Church has not made a cent from any of the pastoral ministry our clergy perform and that includes wedding ceremonies.’

Our theological foundation for this project includes (a) the Gospel in the New Testament, and the definition of ‘Good News’; (b) the New Testament impetus for evangelism which incorporates The Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 ; (c) Christ’s evangelistic methodology, which includes Jesus incarnate, Jesus five-step methodology for evangelism.

Every church has many tools for growth in its tool box. When it comes to Relational Evangelism, I think of the two giants: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses for their door knocking campaigns.

Cold calling may seem to be a bad idea that doesn’t work but take a look at those Mormons and look at those Kingdom Halls on many a street corner.

Where they focus on door knocking, we emphasize conducting life celebrations.

We borrowed the idea from the very successful outreach program of the Unitarian Church and adapted it to our situation. We call our outreach program ‘Relational Evangelism’ (performing rites of passage as a potential source of new members) and it owes its existence to the Universalist Unitarian program started in 1970 for basically the same reasons.

Their Unitarian Lay Chaplaincy Program was implemented in 1970 in response to specific needs for Unitarian rites of passage to be used for church growth.

The primary purpose of this outreach program in our fellowship closely resembles the Unitarian program. It is to provide quality rites of passage in a manner consistent with Clergy Support Memorial Church endorsed principles for members of the general public. The program also serves the following secondary purposes:

  1. to assist non-Clergy Support Memorial Church couples & families to connect with the Church.
  2. to promote or showcase Clergy Support Memorial Church values.
  3. to enhance the spiritual growth and development of chaplains themselves.

To implement this program of outreach Clergy Support Memorial Church calls upon its Appointed Clergy (in some contexts, its Ordained Clergy) depending on need and geography.

We believe our prospects for church growth are the people beyond the traditional churches’ reach who want us to marry them. What a great opportunity to start a positive relationship.

We believe our prospects for church growth are the people beyond the traditional churches’ reach who want us to marry them. What a great opportunity to start a positive relationship.

To be clear, our potential members are the people who come to us for a life celebration like marriage. After that relationship is built, we hope they will call us for other pastoral care, such as a baptism, a funeral, or some visitation of relatives in hospital. And they do. We have had some success with this method.

Conducting a life celebration, like a wedding ceremony, is obviously not a sure way to have a couple join with us. We realize that a high percentage of the couples who call upon us, we will never see again. Even so, connecting with these couples and helping them navigate this sacred event in their lives is a pastoral service that hopefully will  impact their lives in a positive way. In other words, through our pastoral care and example, we are planting a spiritual seed which may grow to benefit our church or another church down the road.

Some couples want a civil ceremony, and there are plenty of wedding commissioners to accommodate these needs. Some couples have a home church and these local churches will perform their weddings. Our focus is on the couples who do not want a civil ceremony, nor do they have a connection with a local church.

From time to time, some have given us the impression that they think we are some kind of online ordination mill. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All one needs to do is to read some of our individual clergy pastoral reports to be humbled by the pastoral impact our clergy are making across the Province.

We will match the training any wedding commissioner receives, and we will certainly match the training any person receives before they are Appointed or Ordained in any Church.

Most of our clergy have formal academic achievements second to none. Some, while they have never attended university, have other great achievements analogous to formal theological training. These people have led a life filled with great moral and ethical achievement and have lived a life giving back to their various communities.

Clergy Support Church, like many denominations, including the Unitarians, the Salvation Army and a legion of other Christian Churches during their earlier development, appointed or ordained persons according to their life experiences rather than academic achievements. Some still do.

Many of our clergy support their ministries with day jobs of many kinds while serving as ministers. This concept of self-support for ministers is called ‘tentmaking’ after the example of the apostle Paul who was a tentmaker who changed the world. Many denominations allow this same practice.

We are proud of all the clergy on our roll for the professionalism they display, sometimes under situations of great stress. We have great clergy in a serving church.