For Avon and Valorie Banks when you grow a marriage ministry it’s all about relationships.
And they enjoy getting to know people.
So they take couples on marriage retreats that focus on relaxation and building relationships. The retreats might take place at the beach or even on a cruise. And they don’t have a heavy agenda.
Avon says their approach to marriage ministry has been a little “outside the box.”
“We build relationships with other couples. Then when the time is right, we introduce the class,” Avon says.
“The class” is a nine-week Dynamic Marriage course developed by Marriage Dynamics Institute.
And Dynamic Marriage is more than a course. It’s an experience. Trained facilitators guide each group of 6-12 couples through a unique curriculum designed to help husbands and wives transform their own marriage.
Avon and Valerie found out about Dynamic Marriage in 2006 while searching the internet for marriage ministry resources. In February they attended Facilitator Training then led their first class in August that same year. After that they facilitated two Dynamic Marriage courses a year.
“We were already in mentoring relationships before we knew it was our calling,” Avon told us. He and Valorie were intentional about recruiting couples to participate in Dynamic Marriage.
“Our goal was to try to build relationships with couples so when they got to the course we could encourage them and be transparent with them.”
“We’ve seen couples on the brink of divorce survive,” Valorie says. “Now they are thriving. It’s been good.”
But it hasn’t always been easy. Because Dynamic Marriage is challenging.
“If they make it through the third week it’s downhill from there,” Avon says. “The ones that press through definitely come out stronger.”
And this is where relationships are so important. The small group structure of Dynamic Marriage encourages meaningful relationships that have a powerful impact on participants. Avon and Valorie have seen this over and over again.
“For those struggling … lots of times the couples bonding together and praying for each other encouraged them. You are not the only one going through this. You are not alone.”
And when couples who participate already have a reasonably healthy marriage, Dynamic Marriage can help them discover a whole new level of connection.
The Banks’ don’t hesitate when asked how Dynamic Marriage has impacted their own marriage.
“For me the Dynamic Marriage course took the Biblical principles of marriage and taught me how to apply them in a practical way, ” Valorie says. “Being attentive to his needs and realizing the more I meet his needs the more my needs are met. Love Bank. Keeping up those deposits. Always contributing or thinking of ways to contribute.”
Avon talks about the responsibility husbands have for “creating an atmosphere for his entire family to enjoy. It’s one thing to be a man in this society,” he says, “and it’s a whole different thing to be a husband.”
And they have lots of stories to share about how the course has impacted other couples.
Valorie remembers a young woman who was dragging her husband to Dynamic Marriage because, she said, “He needs this class.”
By the end of the class, though, Valorie and Avon both remember how her attitude had changed to “I really needed this class to see my own flaws.”
According to Valorie, “She realized that she could make a big difference in her marriage by what she did.”
Avon said he was thinking about the same couple, and how much he enjoyed watching them grow through the years. “He was really rough around the edges. And he became a softer person just in general.”
They described a couple from the very first Dynamic Marriage course they facilitated years ago sitting close together in church holding hands. Avon and Valorie said it was great to see that visible evidence of a more loving relationship.
One man joked that his wife needed to be re-trained when they signed up for Dynamic Marriage a second time. But Valorie said they really just wanted to repeat the course because they enjoyed it so much. And they weren’t the only ones.
Several of their Dynamic Marriage graduates have gone on to become facilitators themselves.
“We were very purposeful,” Valorie says, “about encouraging those we thought would be good facilitators so we could have more classes.”
Intentional about building relationships. Purposeful about passing it on. Those are qualities of some all star facilitators!
And that’s how you grow a marriage ministry.
Now, the Banks’ are at a new church and starting to grow another marriage ministry “from ground zero.”
But they are confident they will find couples with a passion for Dynamic Marriage.
And they plan to keep on building relationships, encouraging, and watching God work.
You can join the Banks and help couples invest intentionally in their marriage relationship. The staff at Marriage Dynamics Institute is available to help.
Marriage Dynamics Institute recommends the A New Beginning workshop for marriages in crisis. This three-day weekend workshop is led by a professional counselor and provides a lot of help quickly when a couple is really struggling.