After 12 years of marriage and a decade of Christian service, my husband and I decided to begin a new small group in our home … a very small group. In fact, our group consisted of just the two of us. It seemed that raising our son, work schedules and church obligations allowed us to minister to many people. We touched so many other people's lives that we never saw each other. It doesn't surprise me that the Barna Research Group (1998) reports that nearly half of all pastors reveal that their family lives suffer significantly as a result of ministry.
Perhaps we need to remember God's original laws of marriage from Deuteronomy 24:5, "For one year he [a recently married man] is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married." And the Lord's command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they will become one flesh." These verses show not only that the marriage union is important to God, but also that that union grows by leaving other relationships and obligations and spending time alone with your spouse. Marriage is our most important ministry. Why not enhance this ministry by studying the Bible as a couple.
Here are some advantages to having a small group for just the two of you:
- You can begin as early or as late as you want. We began our study at 9:30 p.m., soon after our son went to bed. Our study did not interfere with our time with our child and did not alter his bedtime. We ended at 11 p.m., which is much too late for most small groups where members need to drive home. It was perfect timing for us.
- Rescheduling is easy, though often unnecessary. We were able to continue our group even while on vacation and when our son was sick. When my husband had to work late, we met on Thursday instead of Wednesday. During our three-month study, we never missed a week.
- You can stay home and study in your pajamas. Yes, we often did this. I also didn't have to worry about having the house cleaned and snacks prepared. This was the most comfortable I have been hosting a Bible study.
- It will build up your marriage. The marriage relationship is second in importance only to our relationship with God. My husband and I were able to study, pray and communicate on a regular basis. Our bond to each other strengthened during this time.
So, if you need some quality time with your spouse, do what we did. Begin by praying together. Then set a time, even if it requires leaving another small group or ministry for a season. We left a small group to begin ours and everyone in the group not only understood, but respected our decision. Next, select a study guide or book of the Bible. It doesn't have to be marriage or family related - we studied Joseph's life. Finally, just do it. A study with just the two of you will deepen your relationship with each other and the Lord beyond what you imagined.