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Descriptions of Resources

    
Dr. Jimmy Draper, President of the Baptist Sunday School Board, whose support made it possible to create the Resource Collection, says, "The church can no longer turn its back on the problem of divorce. I am encouraged to see, at last, resources that meet this problem head on with valuable, workable solutions that are already making a difference. It is now possible, with these tested and effective methods, to stop the relentless tide of divorce once and for all. Mike McManus' Marriage Savers resources need to find their way into every church around the world."

Michael J. McManus writes "Ethics & Religion," a weekly syndicated column  to scores of  newspapers. He is author of Marriage Savers: Helping Your Friends and Family Avoid Divorce and of Insuring Marriage: 25 Proven Ways to Prevent Divorce. And he created and narrated the videos. TIME magazine, in its cover story, "For Better, For Worse: The Growing Movement to Strengthen Marriage and Prevent Divorce," describes Mike McManus as a "national leader" of that movement. For example, he helped create 40 of the four dozen Community Marriage Policies in the United States that are saving thousands of marriages.

He and his wife, Harriet, have been married three decades and are the parents of three grown sons. They have created a marriage ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland in which they have trained 64 couples married an average of 30 years to mentor seriously dating and engaged couples. Over 10 years, a number of 302 young couples broke their engagements, but there are no known divorces. Mike and Harriet also conduct Marriage Savers seminars all over the country.

They have appeared in a CBS Special, a PBS Town Meeting, an upcoming CNN feature, National Public Radio, Focus on the Family, the British Broadcasting, and many other local radio and newspaper interviews.

Mike and Harriet McManus "have been volunteer leaders in training successful couples to mentor younger ones at their church (Fourth Presbyterian, Bethesda). More significantly, they are part of a national involvement of churches in the strengthening of marriage. McManus has written a book, Marriage Savers, in which he has consolidated the wisdom he's gleaned over the years. Perhaps his key insight is the power of the church to strengthen and save (not merely bless) marriages....(He says) `There are some 350,000 churches in America, and every one of them has couples with solid marriages who've never been asked, trained, equipped or inspired to do this job. Why can't we learn to draw on the strength and experience that are already at hand?'  ~ Bill Raspberry, The Washington Post, January 12, 1996

"Mike McManus has written one of the best researched and most lucid accounts of the plague of marriage breakdown in America to appear so far. He explodes the myth of `trial marriages,' showing how live-in relationships before marriage make divorce more likely, rather than less. He also illustrates seem remarkably successful programs of relationship restoration that have drastically cut down divorce rates in several churches and communities across the country. ~ David Aikman, former Senior Correspondent, TIME magazine

"In Marriage Savers, he offers sound, practical and biblical advice to all who seek strong healthy marriages. This plainspoken `how to' guide to marital success should be in every pastor's study and be made required reading for every engaged couple." ~ Jeff Sheler, Religion editor, U.S. News & World Report

"MARRIAGE SAVERSŪ can help stop the relentless tide of divorce in any church."
~ Dr. Jimmy Draper, President, Baptist Sunday School Board

Using the books and videos described here, YOU and your church can help couples achieve six great goals:

  • Avoid a bad marriage before it begins by taking a premarital inventory that can predict with 80% accuracy who will divorce.
  • Give "marriage insurance" to the engaged by giving them access to older couples with solid marriages. Mike & Harriet McManus have prepared 135 young couples over five years. There have been broken engagements but no known divorces.
  • Strengthen any existing marriage. Marriage Encounter moves. nine out of ten couples to fall back in love.
  • Save 90% of the most troubled marriages. In one church seven couples whose marriages once nearly failed -- met with 40 marriages headed for divorce and restored 38 of them -- a 95% success rate.
  • Spark reconciliation of the separated, saving more than 50% of them
  • Push down a metro area's divorce rate by creating Community Marriage Policies like Peoria's, which had a 20% drop in a year, or Modesto with nearly a 50% plunge in a decade, saving 1000 marriages a year.

MANUAL TO CREATE A MARRIAGE SAVERS CONGREGATION

The Manual to Create a Marriage Savers Congregation is now available to purchase without training. It is also part of the training materials package.  Writing my book, Marriage Savers, which describes many successful mentoring programs was not a sufficient tool. Nor was it enough to create a Marriage Savers Resource Collection with six videos, two books and a Leader's Guide for a 13 week Sunday School course for potential mentors.

Nor was it enough to ask pastors to pledge, as they have in many cities to "train mature, married couples to serve as mentors to work with engaged couples, newlyweds, or those experiencing marital difficulties.' Even after agreeing to do so in over 100 cities, pastors have not acted on their commitment, except in a few churches.

As I wrote in the Manual, "Our central conclusion is that the reason there are so few Marriage Savers Churches at present is not a lack of will or desire on the part of clergy who have signed a Community Marriage Policy, but a lack of knowledge of the steps needed to create such a church. Therefore, this Marriage Savers Congregational Manual will spell out the steps that were taken by one or more of the five successful Marriage Savers Churches."

Of the five model Marriage Savers Churches profiled in the Manual, four were started by lay people, such as Harriet and me at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda. Only one was started by a pastor, Rev. Jeffrey Meyers of Christ Lutheran Church in Overland Park, KS. (To see what he thinks of the importance of Mentor Couples, see his column on page 6.)

Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Lay Person, you can start a Marriage Savers Congregation. If you have enjoyed a solid marriage for 15, 25, 40 or even 50 years - or if your marriage was once in deep trouble, and God has restored it; or even if you are in a second marriage which is now harmonious, you have a graduate degree in marriage.

You can take your earned degree (your Mr. and Mrs.!) to other couples in your church, and then to your pastor and say, "We want to create a Marriage Savers Church. We will become trained and do the work. We simply want your blessing and oversight."

MARRIAGE SAVERS:
HELPING YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AVOID DIVORCE

MARRIAGE SAVERS is America's definitive, 346 page book on how any church can be transformed from being a "wedding factory" that grinds out weddings, half of which fail -- into a Marriage Saver, in which less than 10 percent are lost to divorce. It is based on 15 years of research on the most effective ways some churches are intervening at quite different stages of the marital life cycle -- making a case for chastity with teenagers and single adults, equipping the engaged with skills for a life-long marriage, helping newlyweds resolve conflict, deepening all existing marriages, saving the troubled ones, and helping the separated, divorced and those in second marriages to rebuild their lives. This is a book for pastors and lay leaders who want to read about the best Marriage Savers in America so that they might plant these reforms in their own churches -- and even jump-start them in many local churches at one time in Community Marriage Covenants.

Publisher: Zondervan Publishing House, revised edition, 1995. 346 pages, with an Index and an Appendix listing the phones and addresses of 25 major marriage-saving ministries.

Chuck Colson says, "Mike McManus has done a great service for the kingdom in a book called Marriage Savers which tells the how, in a practical way, it can help build strong marriages. That is front-line Christian work today. It is one of the most urgent tasks and highest priorities of the Church."

Cardinal William Keeler, past president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, adds, "I am delighted to do all that I can to encourage Marriage Savers, and I think that this absolutely must be a very, very high priority."

INSURING MARRIAGE:
25 PROVEN WAYS TO PREVENT DIVORCE

This is a little book -- of only 112 pages -- aimed at the average reader who will not wade through Marriage Savers but who wants to know the proven ways to prevent divorce. Each of the 25 "Answers" is written as a modern parable. Answer 19, for example, tells how Mike and Brenda's marriage nearly ended when she learned he had been picking up women in bars when traveling. They attended a Retrouvaille weekend, and heard how another couple rebuilt a marriage after adultery. That gave them both hope and practical ideas to save their marriage. Dr. Wesley Hartzfeld of The Chapel in Akron, Ohio, gave Insuring Marriage to two couples headed for divorce. Their attitudes toward each other were so transformed, he bought 25 more copies. What should you say to the woman whose daughter is cohabiting? Have her read Answers 6, 8 and 9. .

Publisher: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996; 112 pages, with a list of other resources and relevant Scripture after each Answer.

George Gallup Jr. writes: "For those who think there's not much we can do about the high rate of divorce, this slim volume provides a great deal of hope. There are answers, and Michael McManus in Insuring Marriage: 25 Proven Ways to Prevent Divorce presents them in the form of fresh stories of actual experiences. This book should be read by those considering marriage, those thinking about ending their marriage, and even those who want their marriage to remain happy and intact."

MARRIAGE SAVERS RESOURCE COLLECTION

This is a set of materials designed to help any church become a Marriage Saver, a church that can almost eliminate divorce. It includes six videos, the books Marriage Savers, Insuring Marriage and a Leader's Guide to Marriage Savers so that a 13 week Sunday School or adult ed course might be taught using the books and videos.

The videos are narrated by Mike McManus, but focus primarily on couples who have experienced one of the Marriage Savers -- taking a premarital inventory, being mentored, attending Marriage Encounter or Retrouvaille, etc. More than 2,500 churches use them in multiple ways. First, the videos can be used to recruit mentor couples. Second, a church might also hold a pot luck dinner "for married couples only" and show the last three videos on how to strengthen an existing marriage, save a troubled one, recover from a separation or divorce, or enable a stepfamily to be successful. Thus, couples can be introduced to a variety of ways to take a next step in their marriage.

Finally, Video 1 is an overview video that can be shown to a group of clergy in a city who might want to consider creating a Community Marriage Policy that can reduce the divorce rate of a whole city. Seven cities have slashed divorce rates in half! It contains excerpts of the other five videos, illustrating proven answers, and concludes with Chuck Colson and Mike McManus making a case for creating a Community Marriage Policy like that in El Paso, TX. From 1993-1995, three years before a CMP was signed by clergy, there were an average of 2,206 divorces a year. In 2001, there were only 630 divorces, a stunning 79.5% drop if population changes are considered.

Video 2: Help Singles and Seriously Dating Couples. Most unions between men and women in America are beginning with cohabitation which increases the divorce rate by 50%. This video explores an alternative way of testing the relationship by taking a premarital inventory and learning skills of communication and conflict resolution with a Mentor Couple.

Video 3: Marriage Insurance for Engaged Couples was filmed at Fourth Presbyterian Church where Mike and Harriet have trained 64 mature, solidly married couples to be mentor couples with the engaged. Both engaged couples and mentors describe the experience, which both find immensely rewarding.

Video 4: Helping Couples Strengthen Existing Marriages puts a spotlight on how the REFOCCUS inventory can help newlyweds who are horrified by their conflict to learn how to make their marriage work. Mike McManus describes his Marriage Encounter, as does another couple for who it was the highlight of their married life.

Video 5: Even Deeply Troubled Marriages Can Be Saved. Of the 70,000 couples who have attended a Retrouvaille (French for Rediscovery) retreat, most had no hope for waving their marriage. In Michigan, a third had already filed divorce papers, yet 80% rebuilt their marriages. In Fort Worth, 40% were separated or divorced, yet 70% saved their marriages.

Video 6: Helping the Separated, Divorced & Stepfamilies. The salutary effect of a Divorce Recovery Workshop is explored. And the Roswell United Methodist Stepfamily Support Group is highlighted. Though 65% of all stepfamilies fail, Roswell has worked with 400 stepfamilies, and saved 80% of them.