A few weeks before teaching a passage for our middle school ministry (MSM) I talked to Alan Kim, our MSM pastor, about my outline and the main idea of the passage. He had a lot of great insights but one piece of advice in particular stood out. I was concerned about how to deliver the message and if it would be engaging enough. Alan’s response was, “without the Holy Spirit, we’re just motivational speakers.”
That made me pause because I realized that although technique and delivery are important when speaking to any audience, our words will always fall flat without the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the one thing that separates a pastor from a motivational speaker.
The same is true for the different ministries at Arbor Road Church. Through the work of a care ministry for married couples, Reunite (now called MarriageCare), Peter and Melissa Busse learned that their marriage could not find true healing without the power of the Holy Spirit.
I had the opportunity to speak with them about their marriage and Peter told me that although they both accepted Christ at a young age, they were pretty wild when they got married in 1991. In 1994, they had their first child and tried to be good parents, however they were “still doing nothing to cultivate their marriage.” He defined their relationship as “parallel living,” meaning, they just lived in the same house and went through the motions. When their second son, Ethan, was born in 2000 they couldn’t ignore the weaknesses in their marriage anymore.
I asked them how they ended up coming to church here and Melissa said that ultimately it was their son Ethan’s involvement in KidU, a weekly meeting during the school year for kids 1st-5th grade, that brought them to Arbor Road Church.
When they first visited Melissa said,“Right away we felt like we could relax.” The Busse’s felt as if they belonged and this sense of belonging is one of the reasons they kept attending.
Peter added that they also noticed the Gospel was always presented on Sunday mornings. He said that until coming to Arbor Road Church he didn’t understand the importance of the Bible.The fact that the Gospel is presented every week helped him grasp our need for it.
As they got more involved, Peter and Melissa started attending Financial Peace University and then eventually got involved in Reunite. This is where God began to repair their marriage by further exposing their brokenness. Peter realized the root of his struggle was that he felt shame. He didn’t feel like he had done things right as a husband and a father. Much of his feelings came from unspoken expectations that he brought to their marriage and his shame was keeping him from communicating well with Melissa.
Through Reunite Melissa came to see that she struggled with being vulnerable. She knew that in order to rebuild her marriage, she had to learn how to trust the people in her life. Melissa told me that at first, she didn’t like the idea of exposing how she truly felt. However, the Holy Spirit prompted her to open up and trust the other people in their Reunite class.
After I spoke with Peter and Melissa, I came to see that Reunite is more than just a marriage counseling class. Because of the Holy Spirit’s influence, it is a place where married couples can experience genuine change and healing.
The same goes for every one of us. Whether it’s rebuilding a marriage, teaching a lesson to Middle Schoolers, or even in our personal time with the Lord, God’s Spirit is alive and active, ready to bring about change and healing for His glory.
Written by: Robert Heckert