6 Reasons to Attend Church with Your Fiancé
If you're engaged to be married and beginning to list out all of your "to-do's" before the big day, make sure this vital step is included: attending church with your fiancé. Here are six reasons why it's so important. And don't worry, if you and your soon-to-be husband don't live in the same town, we've got a few ideas for you, too.
A commitment to marriage should be a permanent commitment – a covenant made as unto the Lord. Sadly, too many of us spend more time preparing for engagement photos, wedding details, and dress shopping than preparing ourselves for the actual marriage.
Marriage is one of the most beautiful things on the planet, but make no mistake: it can be quite challenging! That said, the engagement period is a critical time of continuing to learn and grow together as a couple.
One of the most important things a Christian couple can do before marriage is to begin to figure out what church they will attend once they are married. This church body is where you’ll grow together spiritually. Whether you are in one location long enough to grow roots and raise children, or it’s only your home for a year or so, it's an important decision to make together.
Not every couple is able to attend the same church before they get married. If you live in different places, this might not be possible for you. But if you and your fiancé are living in the same town, then make the effort to go to church together and find a church home where you both feel good about committing yourselves to membership.
Little things do become big things! Those cute “quirks” that make your fiancé special can also be things that will drive you insane ten years from now. The mild disagreements you’ve had about where to eat dinner or what radio station to listen to can turn into an all-out war in a few years. The same can be true for your church choice. It may seem like a small decision right now, but as the marriage approaches (and certainly following the ceremony) it will become a much bigger deal, for those who believe church attendance to be an important part of the Christian journey (which I happened to strongly believe).
Here are just a few of the top reasons why church attendance with a fiancé is important:
1. It Will Help You Know if You Are Aligned on Doctrine
Attending services together will identify the “non-negotiables” for you and your future spouse. I have heard many pastors and evangelists say that once a person gets saved that it is important for them to get rooted in a Bible-believing church. But how does one identify when it’s NOT a Bible-believing church? By attending one!
What happens when you assume your fiancé believes exactly as you do and then 6 months into the marriage you realize that there are critical components of his doctrine that do not line up with what you believe the Bible says? For example, the gospel – the good news that Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection has saved us from our sins and that he is the only hope we have for salvation and freedom from death - is what I would consider non-negotiable. But what happens when you learn that your fiancé’s church teaches there is more than one way to Heaven?
2. It Provides a Path Toward Deeper Discussion
Church attendance together leads to valuable discussion about beliefs and life issues. It can lead to dialogue about variances in beliefs regarding the “negotiables.” How will you raise your children? What values are most important in your home? Will you work outside the home? Will you homeschool? Will you watch this particular television program? How do you feel about that political issue? All of these things are often covered in a church sermon, over time. Sermons can lead to great discussions that can be meaningful and strengthen the overall relationship (or at the very least begin a dialogue on how to resolve differences in opinion).
3. You Can Figure Out What Religious Traditions You Both Feel Comfortable With
Denominational differences (and even churches within the same denomination) can lead to awkward moments. As part of my job, I travel to churches throughout the world and have attended the services of many, many different denominations. Traditions within a religious service may be second nature to us, but completely foreign to someone who has not attended a similar church service. For example, some churches choose more traditional songs in hymn books. Some have no instruments. Some have a full band. Some sing Christian contemporary. Some use a choir. Others use soloists. Come may not even have music as part of their service. The list can go on and on. And that’s just the worship component! Attending church with a fiancé can help you familiarize yourself with the traditions of his service.
4. You Can Begin Building Community before You’re Married
Many friendships are forged through church community. Some of my most meaningful friendships have come through my local church. The same is true for many of us. Meeting those that are in your fiancé’s church could one day become your new social circle. Learn who he spends time with now, but also get to know those in the congregation that could become good friends in the future.
5. You Can Begin to Serve Together and Learn about Each Other through Service
A family that prays together stays together. We’ve probably all heard that. And I certainly believe that to be true. However, I also think a family that serves together stays together. A family that has prioritized serving others is one that will see others above themselves, which is a huge principle in marriage. Serving alongside your fiancé at church outreaches is a great way to get to know him more deeply and to simultaneously impact the community. It will also allow you to observe how your fiancé exhibits compassion to those who may be hurting, sick, or broken in the community.
6. You Can Prevent Unequal Yoking
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV
It’s likely you’ve read this Scripture before. And yes, this Scripture is referring to believers being in relationship with unbelievers. However, the principle of being like-minded in a relationship can go further. As referenced earlier, little things become much bigger things five years into a marriage versus in the initial dating phase.
What happens when you have vastly different views on money principles? What about principles on dancing and consuming alcohol and other topics that even Christians can become grossly divided over? How do you navigate those challenges? These issues can be critical in discerning prior to marriage.
While many “non-negotiables” can be overcome with effective dialogue and conflict resolution skills, some issues could be life-changing. For example, money management impacts a marriage forever. What happens if your partner believes tithing is an outdated Old Testament ritual, but you believe that tithing is a critical component of effective money management? This could lead to a lifetime of challenge and may be a deal-breaker. Understand those components of being like-minded in all the major areas is very important.
What to Do if You and Your Fiancé Can’t Attend the Same Church before You're Married
If you and your fiancé live in different places and can’t attend the same church before marriage, that’s okay. There are still a few things you can do to make sure you’re on the same page heading into marriage:
1. Discuss Denominations – Do you both agree on a specific domination of church you’d like to attend? If you can at least narrow it down, it will make the decision process quicker and easier after you’re married. This conversation is also a great way to figure out if you’re on the same page about some essential beliefs.
2. Search Online Together – One of the great things about living in this online age is that you can learn a lot about a particular church before you ever step inside. And often, sermons will be available online for you to watch or listen to. If you’re able to figure out one or two churches you’d like to visit, it will make the process of getting settled into a church easier once you’re married.
Jennifer Maggio is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is passionate about encouraging women and single parents. She is a mother to three and wife of Jeff. She is the author of four books and a speaker. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.