Being asked to perform a couple’s wedding is one of the great joys of pastoral ministry. At the same time, however, pastors may be unprepared when the moment arrives. Here are a few reasons why having a written wedding policy is important:
- It requires pastors to develop their own convictions on marriage. Each pastor must determine where he stands on the issues of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. A written policy forces the pastor to prayerfully study the biblical material and think through his own position regarding which weddings he will officiate. While the issues can be complex and controversial, the pastor’s wedding policy ensures he has given careful thought to developing his own convictions.
- It protects pastors from impulsive, emotional decisions or reactions. Having a policy written in advance keeps pastors from making decisions based primarily upon feelings. Because pastors understandably want to help, they may quickly agree to officiate a wedding without first having asked relevant questions of the couple. Having a written position before being asked to officiate a ceremony helps remove much of the purely emotional or personal feelings from the equation.
- It demonstrates a pastor’s commitment to Scripture. Taking time to write a biblically supported wedding policy demonstrates a pastor’s faithfulness to the Scriptures. Those who read his policy should see numerous biblical references and passages that inform his views. While some may disagree with the pastor’s conclusions, they will have to acknowledge he has endeavored to be true to what he believes God has taught in His Word.
- It prepares couples for meaningful premarital counseling. Pastors who want marriages to stand the test of time will incorporate biblical premarital counseling into their wedding policies. Unlike the wedding ceremony, which can often feel rushed or stressful, premarital counseling sessions afford pastors the greatest opportunity to teach gospel truths. While frequency of sessions and use of material may vary, a written wedding policy reveals the pastor’s expectations for each couple as they prepare for their wedding day.
- It can communicate expectations for building use. Wedding policies also allow pastors to communicate specific concerns related to gatherings in the sanctuary or other church buildings. Rules or policies important to the pastor or church should be communicated in writing. For example, if the pastor has a view regarding the use of alcoholic beverages on church property, then his policy should clearly state that view. His policy may also refer to other necessary church documents addressing the legal use of church property.
Pastors: What are some other reasons you would add to this discussion?
Could you post a sample wedding policy?
Hey, Craig! (and others) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a free copy of my wedding policy and related materials
We went further and put a section into our church’s constitution and by-laws about marriage and what our church believes marriage is and isn’t.
Nate–that is a great idea; we did the same thing in my last pastorate. Blessings!
I love your write up sir. It gives direction in many areas of marriage and wedding. Thanks