Pastors' Forum


Pre-Marital Preparation

We’re looking to improve how we help couples prepare for marriage. How do other churches help prepare engaged couples? How many times do they meet with them and what topics are covered? What kinds of resources are used (e.g., books, DVDs, classes, inventories, etc.)?


Pastor David Emigh – Sand Springs, OK
I make it a requirement for my staff and myself to do premarital counseling—it is not an option. I meet a minimum of four times together for about an hour to cover things. If I see potential problems then I extend the sessions. The first thing I establish is the spiritual life of the couple. I want to make sure they are equally yoked. I ask questions to locate them spiritually. I cover areas of family relationships like leaving your father and mother, etc.

Many problems arise because a spouse does not cut the ties with their mom and dad. This needs to be done in the right way, but it does need to be done. I cover finances and work ethic and go over the family traditions that each have come out of because we are all products of our environment to some degree.

I cover what they expect out of marriage, and are they willing to make a life time commitment. I cover the importance of church attendance and involvement. We talk about children and how many they desire to have. What are their thoughts on raising children? If they have been previously married and have children, then I spend a lot of time on this subject.

Then we talk about the bedroom and birth control. This is a very important area that affects each marriage. I have been counseling for many years and approach everything from the Bible, but I began to use an evaluation survey that has been very beneficial. It is called Prepare and Enrich. It is a great tool and once you learn how to use it, you will see that it gives you insight into a person’s life. They offer materials for people being married for the first time or people that have divorced and are marrying again with children. I highly recommend it.

Pastor Jerry Piker – Laurie, MO
Can anyone prepare enough for marriage? I don’t really think so! Yet, we should do all we can to learn from others who have some experience at being married.

I like to have six to eight counseling sessions with a couple before marriage. Over the years, I have used a book by Bob Phillips called, How Can I Be Sure. It seems to cover most topics newly weds would encounter. (Harvest House Publishers)  Topics include: Family Background, Status of Present Relationship, Religious Background, Children, Finances, Communication, Sex, and includes a wedding checklist along with a sample ceremony.

I also like the study by Jimmy Evans, Marriage on the Rock. This has a great workbook to go through with couples also.

I believe that strong churches are built upon strong marriages. If we as Pastors hold the act of marriage in high esteem, our congregations will also. We have a policy that we will not marry someone without some counseling. This has helped with the young couples who come in to get married.

Valley Family Church of Kalamazoo – Pastoral Care Department
We currently hold two classes a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. If there is another couple here or there who doesn’t happen to fit into that schedule, we have a wonderful mentor couple who will do an abbreviated version, usually held on a Friday night and Saturday. Otherwise, the normal sequence of events is to advertise the upcoming class, and as we get couples showing interest, we send them a packet of information that explains our program and procedures for getting married here and it explains the expectations we have regarding their involvement in our premarital program.

The class is held for four consecutive Monday nights and each class lasts for 2 ½ hours. We are currently using a DVD program by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot called “Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts.” We send each participant the first two chapters prior to the start of the class so they can be prepared to participate right away. There are 7 sessions in the DVD so we cover two sessions on weeks 1, 3, and 4. On week two, we cover one session and then administer the FOCCUS Inventory, during the second half of that class.  We always do an icebreaker before each class and then we have a discussion following each DVD session.

After the four class periods are complete, we schedule two “one on one” sessions with each couple, prior to their final session which is held with the Pastor who will be marrying them. During the first one on one session, we will discuss the results of their FOCCUS inventory which always results in some great discussion and allows for a session that is tailored specifically to that couple. The second session revolves around a set of 13 questions that the couple has answered, individually, prior to this session. The questions cover a wide range of issues including the meaning and importance of marriage, children, finances, goals etc.

Pastor John White – Decatur, AL
This is how I handle pre-marriage counseling. I require 4 meetings – the first one with the couple and the next two alone with each individual. Then I bring them back together to discuss what my recommendations are. The attached outline of my counseling questions is something I composed from 30 years of ministry (right click here to download the Word document).  I hope this helps.

Faith Family Church – Pastoral Care Department
At Faith Family Church, we require couples to allow at least six months (preferably a year) prior to their wedding date to include our pre-marital sessions and to give them adequate time to get to know each other as well as observe each other in various life situations.  It is stipulated that the couple takes the “Prepare & Enrich Inventory Evaluation” by Life Innovations, Inc. in order for them to be allowed to hold their ceremony at Faith Family Church and to have it officiated by one of our pastors.

Our pastors meet with the couple for approximately four to five separate one-hour sessions once the Prepare & Enrich results arrive to go over the results and various information, including our wedding manual which covers our policies and procedures.  The topics discussed include, but are not limited to: God first (priorities), walking in love, the realities of marriage, strengths and growth areas in the couple’s relationship, communication and conflict resolution, customs and cultures (which deal with each of their family environments and differences), and finances.  Many of these discussions include and are based on the results provided from the Prepare & Enrich Evaluation.  It is also ensured that our scriptural beliefs based on scriptural principles are included in these sessions.

In addition to these meetings with the pastor(s), the couples are given the following resources to read: For Better or Best and If Only He Knew, which are both by Gary Smalley; Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans, and other scriptural materials such as a typed copy of the love chapter (I Corinthians 13, Amplified version).  On occasion, One Flesh by Bob Yandian is given to a couple, perhaps if they have been previously married.

Once the pre-marital sessions are completed, the couple is then scheduled to come in to our facility to watch Marriage on the Rock by Jimmy Evans, a series of five DVDs which compile approximately two 30-minute sessions per DVD.  They are able to watch these at their own pace and understand that their attendance is tracked to ensure completion.  At the conclusion of the DVD series, the pastor meets with the couple one last time to review, answer any questions the couple may have, and to discuss the details of the wedding ceremony.

Abundant Life Christian Center – Pastoral Care Department
Abundant Life Christian Center uses our own premarital binder for premarital counseling.  It includes a premarital application (click here to download the Word document).

Other suggested materials include:

Premarital Counseling:

The workbook called “Before You Say “I do” by H. Norman Wright from Harvest House Publishers. We do not use the whole workbook, but some parts of it.


“Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage”  It’s a complete Seminar DVD set from

Wedding Ceremony:

We use “A Ceremony of Marriage” by Kenneth Copeland Publications.

ISBN 0-938458-15-9. This is a user friendly marriage ceremony booklet that works very well for all of our ministers.

Believers’ Christian Fellowship – Pastoral Care Department
Here are a few resources that we use on a regular basis:

First, we discuss their individual commitment to Christ to be sure that relationship is in tact.

We work through each chapter of “How Can I Be Sure” by Norman Wright.

We administer the DISC personally profile to help the couple understand that their individual personalities shape their perspectives and reactions to issues, and how, at times, those differing perspectives can lead to conflict. The goal is to educate the couple on the differences in order to aid in conflict resolution.

We examine their roles in the marriage from Ephesians 5:21-33.

We pay particular attention to the man’s leadership role and exhort them very heavily out of John 15:13, 1John 4:19, and Romans 5:8.


We work through “Before you Remarry” by Norman Wright.

Discuss the dynamics of the blended family, if appropriate, and again do the DISC profiles.

That is what we currently do.  We have also used Jimmy Evans “Rock n’ Role” marriage DVD’s.

Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
We ask the man and the woman to fill these out (see set of questions below) separately, answering the questions thinking only of themselves.  We then ask them to compare their responses and use them as a basis for discussion and preparation for marriage.

We don’t require the couple to share all their answers with us – just with each other.  We just had an engaged couple that had multiple prior marriages use this, and after several sessions of counseling, they decided (we think wisely) to postpone their wedding date.  They’re still sitting together at church and I think this tool helped them a lot.


These are VERY personal questions that engaged couples need to talk about.  It may not be fun.  But it’s far easier to talk about these things now while the flowers and kisses are flowing than when you’re having a fight later.  Your answers to these questions must be entirely honest based on how you feel today.  Don’t guess that things will be easier or different 5 years from now.

Main Topics

  • Money
  • Communication
  • Past Relationships
  • Cleaning
  • Sleep Habits
  • Children
  • Relatives
  • Working Together Cooking
  • Romance
  • Decision Making
  • Conflict Resolution

Please answer these questions when you’re alone.  It will help you think about the commitment you are about to make.  Later you can compare your answers with your fiancee to help you get to know them better and understand their goals and expectations.


  1. List your assets completely.  Stocks, IRA, 401k, cars, real estate, checking and savings accounts, etc.
  2. List your last year’s income and your anticipated income for this year.
  3. List all of your debt.  Credit cards, auto loans, student loans, pledges, promises, co-signing, mortgages, and the actual monthly payments.  Total the monthly payments.
  4. Do you plan to keep separate checking accounts or put all monies into one joint checking account?
  5. If you put all money into one joint account, who will pay the bills?
  6. How do you feel about the other person’s debt or income?
  7. Do you want the other person to make more money or spend less?
  8. Do you expect to make more money in the next 5 yrs.  How?
  9. Do you expect to still be working in 5 yrs?  Why, Why not?
  10. When do you expect to retire?
  11. What will be your source of income in retirement?
  12. Where will you live in retirement?
  13. Do you have any plans for major purchases, House, car?
  14. How much additional debt can you take on as a couple?
  15. Has your personal spending this year caused your debt to increase or caused your savings to increase?  How much do you give to charity?  Would your mate support your charities?
  16. Write out the answers to these questions completely.
  17. What things did you discover about your spending?
  18. What did you learn about your attitudes toward money?
  19. Are you ready to share ALL of your financial assets?  If not, which ones are you open to share, and which ones do you want to keep separate?  Why?
  20. What are your best financial traits?  What are your worst?
  21. If a favorite Aunt died the day after you were married and left you two $100,000, how would you plan to use it?
  22. If she gave you $5,000 how would you use it?
  23. If she gave you $500,000, how would you use it?
  24. If you encountered some type of emergency the day after you were married and needed $5,000, where would you pull it from?
  25. Same question and you need $50,000, where would you get it?
  26. What is the wisest way to invest $50,000?  This is an important discussion topic.