Divorce Rate Drops By 28% After Church Marriage Program: Marriage impacts, not just the culture, but the political world as well. The stronger the family unit, the less you need the government to intervein. What are the best strategies for building a strong marriage? Tune in now to learn more!

Air Date: 09/18/2019

Guest: J.P. De Gance

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture 

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker and President of WallBuilders, and my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.  WallBuilders Live is a program dedicated to rebuilding the foundations of America. In fact, WallBuilders comes out of that scripture in Nehemiah that says, “Arise and rebuild the walls that we may no longer be at reproach.” 

Well, in America, it’s about rebuilding the foundational principles that produce a good nation. You have a part to play in that, I have a part to play in it, everyone who comes on this program has a part to play. In fact, everyone who lives in this country has a part to play in it. 

We’re asking you to do that. So pay attention today, we think you’re gonna enjoy today’s program. It’s actually gonna be a great local issue that everyone can be involved in. Some people don’t see it as political, but it’s actually a personal and family issue that impacts the political world. 

Healthy Family is Essential to a Healthy Nation

We’ve also got an interesting interview later in the program. One of the things we try to do here is not just talk about or theorize how to restore America’s constitutional republic, we actually have action steps. We get really intentional and get people to start thinking about, if you’re going to be a free citizen, what comes with that? What are the responsibilities that come with that? If you want government to be good, you want to have a good society, and a good economy, and all those things, we’ve got to be intentional in studying what produces those things, and then take action on that. There’s another area, actually, it’s a form of government, it’s the smallest unit of government, it’s the family and the marriages. We aren’t necessarily as intentional about that in our culture today, and we actually haven’t talked a lot about it here on the program.

David:

No, we’re definitely not intentional about it, but we are very clear on what the consequences are. We basically do not pay much attention to marriages as we used to. They’re more a matter of convenience and feel, we got rid of no fault divorce, so if you don’t like what’s going on just find something new, something different, as opposed to where we had we did not have no fault divorce you had to work through situations you had to be deliberate you had to find solutions. And so now, rather than face something difficult, we just move on into something different. 

Weaker Marriages Lead to Higher Poverty

As the result we see what the consequences, on kids particularly, it’s been on the culture the highest indicator of poverty in any community in the nation, is marriages how strong and the marriage is in that community. The weaker the marriages, the higher the poverty rate, the lower the education rate. 

Tim:

By, “The weaker the marriage,” you mean individuals who are divorced, who are single parents. We’re not seeing weak marriages as in it’s a marriage where there’s frustration, and there’s fighting, and there’s arguing, or whatever. We’re talking about when marriage breaks apart, and maybe in some situations, it was people who never got married.

David:

Right. So maybe it’s not even a divorce situation, maybe it’s people having children out of wedlock. The single greatest indicator of wealth and prosperity is a single parent with kids or a married couple with kids, and that is the number one indicator of financial stability, which is quite astounding, that marriage could play that big of a role and that big of an impact. 

For those that like limited government, having strong marriages is one of the best factors in giving you limited government because what it does for behavior, with criminal justice behavior, or economic impact, or anything else, it’s huge. 

Tim:

A strong marriage has helped build strong families, and the stronger the family unit, the less you need government to intervene. Whether that be with health care, or with different vouchers, whatever, or whatever we can pile on that government does for people who are in need because there’s not the economic stability, but also the emotional and mental undergirding. 

Children That Grow Up With Both Parents are Less Likely to Be Criminals

We know that, statistically, kids that grow up in a family with a mom and dad, they’re less likely to be violent criminal offenders and they’re less likely to have emotional and mental health issues. You can go down and there is a fairly long list of the things that kids that grow up in a single parent home suffer with at a much higher rate than those who grew up in a home with a mother and a father. 

That doesn’t mean that every home with a marriage is always a great marriage, but marriage nonetheless is statistically a better indicator of a way that will have more emotionally, financially, mentally, healthy, and stable individuals as opposed to those that grew up in a home without a mom and a dad. 

So marriage should be a huge thing that we are promoting, that we are teaching, that we are helping people with in America, and yet we just don’t see a lot of places that are really helping train people how to have good marriages, how to make your marriage better, how to be good parents. It’s just not the priority. We would think it should be, knowing what it produces and the results it has on a society and a culture.

Rick:

OK, hold that thought guys. We gotta take a quick break. We’ll be right back. We’re talking marriages today, the closest unit of government in your life and my life. We need to be more intentional about making sure that unit is strong if we want the nation to be strong. 

Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

Moment From American History

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Many today assert that religion is something private, that has no place in the public square, and that it is incompatible with government. 

The Founding Fathers believed exactly the opposite. They held that religion was absolutely necessary in order to maintain our free system of government. For example, John Adams declared, “We have no government armed with power, capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” 

And, signer of the declaration, Benjamin Rush, similarly affirmed, “Without religion there can be no virtue and without virtue there can be no liberty and liberty is the object and life of all Republican governments.” The Founding Fathers understood that limited government required public morality from the people. And, that public morality was produced by the Christian religion. For more information about the Founding Fathers views on religion in public life go to WallBuilders.com.

Think Different, Think Strategically

Rick:

Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Today we’re talking about that closest unit of government to all of our lives: the family unit! 

Without strong families, we don’t have a strong nation. David, Tim, you talked about how we have to be intentional on this, and you know, Tim, you pointed out that the difference in what happens to the socioeconomic health of a community, and a nation, if those families aren’t strong. 

I think we—probably most of the time—people go into a marriage and even a life sort of like we do being a citizen. We don’t think about it most of the time. What’s a good strategy and a good formula for having a good marriage?

Tim:

Even as you’re saying that there’s not always an intentional strategy, I’m thinking big picture. Really since James Dobson was doing Focus on the Family, I don’t know of anybody that’s promoting even these ideas of being intentional about the family and saying, “Guys, we should be thinking different. Thinking strategically. Thinking critically.” 

This is not a big push. 

In fact, even—if I think about some of the churches that I’ve been around—we speak a lot in various churches and and we have friends that are pastors—we just don’t see a national movement or a national push for this.

David:

I would say even a national awareness of this. We’re not thinking about it or talking about it much less pushing it.

Each Area We Fail in is Another Area the Government Will Step in to

Tim:

And if we don’t want the government to be the one stepping in to do something then we have to be the ones to solve it on our level. If we don’t solve it as individuals then it just gives the government more and more reason to say well let us step in and let Big Brother take care of this. 

We don’t want the government to take over this, but if we don’t want the government to do something that means we have to solve and resolve this problem ourselves. This is where, Dad, you were mentioning, this is something that probably would be the most effective and local levels. From maybe local pastors who know the people in their church and can meet the people in their community, maybe not even a big national leader. We don’t need another James Dobson to resolve this, but we do need an awareness from local pastor saying, “Let’s get involved to make a difference.” 

David:

There’s a story recently coming out of Florida where that’s happening. Local pastors and local churches starting to make this a focus, and as a result, statistically, the number of divorces have plummeted.

I don’t mean just a few percentage points, I mean big time double digits, and not just barely double digits. I mean way high double digits. So this is certainly one of the most successful things we’ve heard about in a long time focusing on marriage, and the impact that will have on the community is massive. 

Without this is a good example to model for other people across the country. Here’s something that can be done. Really good model, really good example.

This Can Help Churches and Communities

Rick:

When we come back JP DeGance will be with us from Communio.org. And listen, you can do something with this program today folks so listen up close.

You’re gonna be able to take this information to your pastor, to your church, and get them involved in this particular ministry in your community. It’s going to help serve not only the marriages in your church, but also those outside of your church in the community and even bring some new people to your church that are going to find a new home there. 

Stay with us folks, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

Pastors Only Briefing Trip

Tim:

Hi, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders and I want to encourage all the pastors out there with a unique opportunity that we’re presenting it WallBuilders. We’re doing a special tour just for pastors that you can come and learn more about the spiritual heritage of our nation. Not just seeing the sights but understanding the significance of what they are and what they represent. 

We get to go to the Capitol at night.  And, we get to see the spiritual heritage of our Founding Fathers, of who we are as a nation, where we came from. We bring in congressman that will tell you about current legislation, about our religious liberties  and freedom, and what’s going on in Washington, D.C. 

If you’re a pastor or if you want to recommend your pastor for this trip, you can go to our website at www.WallBuilders.com. And, there’s a link that’s for scheduling.  If you click on that link there’s a section for pastor’s briefing. There’s more information about the dates, when it’s going, and how it’s going to happen. If you want to know more about our nation, our religious liberties, our freedom, our spiritual heritage, this is a trip you want to be a part of.

Welcome J.P. DeGance

Rick:

Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Really exciting program today. 

I know we don’t always get results, and we still do our duty whether we get the results or not, but there are great results happening by applying biblical principles in Florida right now. J.P. DeGance is with us! J.P., I’m looking forward to hearing your story and how you came about doing this program for marriages.

J.P.:

Hey Rick! Thanks so much for having me! I’m excited to be here with you.

Rick:

This is pretty remarkable when you just look at the numbers. I mean, obviously divorce rate is spinning out of control in the country, but you guys have seen that number plummet 28% in the other direction, going down instead of going up, what are you doing?

J.P.:

Yeah, well, Communio—that’s the organization I now run—is focused on equipping and empowering churches with big data, tools, and relationship ministry best practices to build data informed relationship and marriage ministries that strengthen marriages in their congregation. 

But this is the cool thing. 

It empowers churches to use marriage ministry as a growth engine to reach out into the community, grow their congregation, and heal marriages in their surrounding community. 

Rick:

And the name of it is Communio? 

Divorce Rates in Florida Dropped by 24%!

J.P.:

Communio. Yeah, that’s right. We were rebranded early this year and ran an experiment for the last three and a half years in Jacksonville, Florida. Ended up reducing the divorce rate, as you mentioned, substantially helping churches grow. The divorce rate dropped 28% the first two years, settled at a 24% decline over three years, and realize that there’s something there. We’re actually moving the needle, and it ended up, because we are equipping and empowering churches to do this, that they actually had a phenomenal local partner—an organization called Live a Life Ministries headquartered in Florida—where we partnered with a guy named Richard Robertson, the President of it, and he’s he was a phenomenal ally in helping to drive that. 

Now, what we’re doing is taking it to scale where we’re taking it to communities around the country. We’ve been brought into the largest city in Montana and largest county Yellowstone County. We’re getting started in a market that we’ll announce soon in Texas. We’re very close to getting started soon and in Denver. So we have a lot of momentum and individual churches are actually also able to reach out to us contact us and we’ll will serve and equip them one by one, those who want to help.

Rick:

Now, when you talk about what was done the last three years, there wasn’t a small anecdotal test. If I understand right, there’s like 35,000 people who went through this.

Using Data to Help Churches Help People

J.P.:

Yeah. That’s just the number over over the first two years of the initiative in the market. Over three years it was actually just over 48,912 individual consumed four hour longer programs in the market focused on marriage in relation to healthy marriages and relationships. And about 95% or more of that was distributed through through houses of worship through churches.

Rick:

You you’ve used a lot of words like you know data management, or data intensive, and that sort of thing. So what does that have to do with a good marriage?

J.P.:

Well, from our end, the big thing that it does is it helps a pastor and a leadership team at a church diagnose what’s going on. That’s the first and foremost important thing. So we’ll help a church survey their own congregation get an assessment of what’s going on. We’ll apply the best to consumer products data so that, we’ll look at what’s going on in the community and in the congregation. We’ve created models that help you help a church know. The same way that Nike might sell shoes online. We use those kinds of tools to help a church know what groups are at risk for heightened risk for divorce and other relationship risk factors financial and security. Who are the parents? Who are expecting parents in the area? 

All these sorts of of data points and then then we consult and help the church use that data to develop a relationship ministry game plan. 

How Do We Reach Out?

If this is what’s going on in the congregation and in the community, how do we reach out? We design a custom approach that works for that congregation and their community, and then create a not an engagement funnel where we can reach out, and invite those people in, and help them get on a growth journey in their relationships. So when I say data, it helps a church and a pastor diagnose what’s going on, design a custom approach, and then get rolling with outreach.

Rick:

So you’re using the predictive modeling that a business would typically use. We think of that in economics, and we think about it for businesses and that sort of thing, but you’re saying, “Hey, that works here! You can use this data to identify the people that most need this kind of ministry.”

J.P.:

Yeah. We tell people that all the time. 

We didn’t invent the idea of predictive analytics or big data. It’s been around used in a lot of industries. It’s just passed over the church and ministry world. 

Beginning in 2015 we began with the idea of, “What would it look like to create data tools that would actually be helpful insights for pastors and got to work on that?” and began testing it. 

We realized there was something really there when a pastor—it’s one thing we all know, that marriage is really important, in the abstract. But it’s something totally different when I can sit down with a pastor and take a look and say, “24% of your congregation looks like they’re at heightened risk for divorce. They look like people who recently got divorced.” 

Helping Identify Who Needs Help

That kind of that kind of knowledge makes it personal, and immediate, and specific, and so then there isn’t a pastor—there isn’t someone who’s in a church in the country—that doesn’t want to take action and start solving the problems there.

Rick:

And it’s not just in their church! You’re saying that through this process that you guys have developed they’re able to identify people in the community that they can go to, which actually helps them serve the community even if that person doesn’t join the church. 

But it ends up growing the church.

J.P.:

That’s exactly right. No we’re able to find with—you look around say a 10 mile radius around your church campus, five mile radius read your church campus. Let’s find those folks who are struggling in their relationships based on the analytics “we have kids”. There’s a number of filters you can use. 

We can say, “Let’s look at all the homes who have kids under the age of 10.”

I have kids. My oldest is 14, so I jokingly tell people that means I’ve graduated. That means I’ve got a built in babysitter.

Before my kid my children old enough to babysit you know getting a babysitter’s a really big barrier to going out and spending time together on a date night. So we’ll help a church think through, “OK, well let’s let’s create an audience. We can find these folks struggling in their marriages. They’ve got young kids. Let’s help a church architect think through what’s an attractive offer. What’s the right kind of date night experience? Inexpensive child care, providing a fun night out as parents at a church and making the church relevant to those folks.” 

And that begins a journey. 

How This Can Grow the Church

We think that is not a one time event, Rick, we think of it as an onboarding event, and getting folks into a ministry engagement funnel. So what’s the second, third, and fourth steps along the way? 

Those folks go from just being names on a list, to coming to an event, to be invited back to another experience at the church, to being moved into a small group going through skills based content, then and then all of a sudden they’re shown up at church on Sunday.

Rick:

And like I said at the beginning, the cool part to me is that the data doesn’t lie. The results are phenomenal! When everybody else is seeing a growth in divorce rates, and in families falling apart—at least we talk a lot on this program, about the pain caused by that and the socio-economic cost to the country—you guys are actually seeing the other way with a 28% drop in divorce! 

What’s the best place for people to go to to learn more about the program and possibly bring it into their community?

J.P.:

They should go to Communio.org. 

We did a survey, 80% of evangelical churches report spending 0% of their ministry dollars on marriage. Only 28 percent of churches have what we would describe as a subset of marriage ministry, so this is a big gap, and we’ve developed a methodology to help churches fill that gap effectively.

Rick:

Well, in fact, here you go man. I’m looking looking at the website right now, and those stories and testimonials, and the people that are experiencing the positive results of what you’re doing right here on the website. It’s so encouraging to people. 

Go there right now. Communio.org. 

Check Out Communio.org

We’ll make it easy and have a link there at WallBuildersLive.com today. J.P., God bless you, man. This is a huge national impact, what you guys are doing, this is exactly what we need to be doing to restore the country.

J.P.

Much appreciated. Thank you for having me. 

Rick:

Stay with us folks. Be right back with David and Tim Barton after the break. You’re listening to Wallbuilders Live.

Front Sight Training Course

Rick Greens here, from WallBuilders Live. What do Dennis Prager, Larry Elder, Ben Shapiro, Rick Green, Tim Barton, David Barton, have in common other than the fact that they’re conservative commentators that defend the Constitution?

They’re raving about Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. Go to my website right now at RickGreen.com. You can watch the video of Dennis Prager training at Front Sight, or Larry Elder, or Tim Barton and myself out there. It’s an opportunity for you to learn how to defend yourself and your family. It is a fantastic place to train. They train 30 to 40,000 people a year, and they’re just wonderful to work with. You can go with us. We’re headed back out.

We’re going to have a great time out there, and if you’re a supporter of WallBuilders, we’re going to treat you. If you’re a donor of WallBuilders, you’ll be able to go to this Front Sight class for free. It normally cost a thousand dollars, go to FrontSight.com right now. You’ll see that it’s a thousand dollars to attend their two-day class. You are going to be able to go for free, if you’re a supporter of WallBuilders Live.

So, check out that information at RickGreen.com and join us. We are going once a month for the next three months. You can pick one of those classes. All of our previous classes have filled up. Make sure that you get online today and get signed up. Whether you’ve never shot before, or you’ve shot your whole life, you will enjoy this class. You’ll enjoy the fellowship. We’ll be training on the range during the day and studying the Constitution at night. What a great combination. Check it out today at RickGreen.com.

Over 50,000 People Went Through This Program!

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! Thanks for staying with us. Special thanks to J.P. DeGance for joining us today as well. You can check that out at Communio.org.

This is one you can take some action today. Take this information to your church. In fact, just find out if your church has a Marriage Ministry of any kind, and if they don’t, take to the pastor. This is a little bit of a problem in our country today. Could we please do something to meet this need in our community? David, Tim, if we have healthy marriages, we’ll have a much healthier nation. But if we if we fall apart at the family level, the government can’t fix that.

David:

Well, when you look at this community, we’re talking about over a three year period divorce rates dropped 24% and well over 50,000 went through this program. So this is not a small sample. 

I love using metrics. I love knowing what works and what doesn’t work. 

This is one of the things progressives do: they have a great idea in theory, and they start implementing, but they never measure to see if it actually provides the solution. Well, this has got metrics that says this is a solution that works. 

When you start making this kind of a difference in the marriages, you make a huge difference in the children, and make a huge difference in behavior. You make a huge economic difference, a huge educational difference, a huge behavioral difference. This is a big thing for a community.

“How Can I Get Better At This?”

Tim:

And guys, one of the things that—all of us are people who are sports fans, all former athletes—one of the things that, as an athlete, you always look and say, “How can I get better at the sport that I am playing?” 

And this is just very natural right. 

As business professionals, as entrepreneurs, you go, “How can I get better? How can we do a better job, how can we make more money, how can we serve more people?” 

It is a very common question to ask. 

“How can I get better?” 

And yet when it comes to marriage a lot of times we don’t think the same way. We don’t think, “How can I make my marriage better? How can I be a better spouse. I’m going to be a better husband. I’m going to be a better father, a better mother.” 

Whatever the situation is. 

And this is something that we shouldn’t look at maybe going to a marriage seminar, or doing some marriage conferences. 

We shouldn’t be going, “Oh wait, a second our marriage isn’t really that broken. We don’t need help. This is not for us.” 

No, no, no, no. Every one of us should be thinking, “How can I be better? How can I be a better version of who God made me to be, how can I be the better spouse?” 

We ought to think about this differently because when we work to make our family stronger, our marriage stronger, makes our family stronger, the more we do that part. We solve a lot of problems not just for us and our family, but ultimately the trickle down effect will make a big difference in our communities and our states and our nation.

Divorce Rate Drops As Churches Get involved!

Rick:

And your approach is 100% right. Tim, that’s exactly the way we ought to be approaching no matter how good or bad you think your marriage is today. Constantly looking for ways to make it better and being intentional about it. So, so important for us to do that both as citizens and how we approach our country, and as family members and just the way that we approach our family. 

Thanks so much for listening today, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live. You can find out more about us at our website WallBuildersLive.com, get archives of our program there, and then of course that donate button is there. That’s your way to come alongside us and be a part of this program by supporting us financially. It allows us to grow the program, get on more stations across the country, do more of our trainings that we do for legislators and for young leaders, Constitution classes, taking pastors to Washington D.C. and giving them the history—rich history—of our nation. 

You can be a part of it. 

Be sure and click on that donate button there at WallBuildersLive.com become like that one time or monthly donation today. We appreciate it. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.