19th October 2017
As part of our commitment to continuing to invest in our relationship, Deb and I decided some time ago to read a book on marriage together each summer. This year we excelled ourselves and read two! While our boys were serving at Newday, we took the opportunity to escape to the South of France where the weather and scenery provided the perfect context to discuss over meals some of the interesting issues raised by our reading.
The first book we read was Making Marriage Beautiful by Dorothy Little Greco. Unlike many marriage books we have come across, this one is written by a woman, with input and testimony from her husband, and gives a slightly different angle to some of the subjects that are often covered in Christian marriage books. She takes a similar approach to Tim and Kathy Keller in their classic The Meaning of Marriage, being less of a practical ‘how to’ manual and more of a challenge to consider underlying attitudes and character. The chapters on handling conflict and the influence of your upbringing were particularly helpful. We had some fascinating and extremely helpful discussions while reading this very well written book and would definitely recommend it.
Douglas Rosenau is the author of Celebration of Sex, the ‘must have’ book on intimacy in Christian marriage – it is one we recommend to all married couples at King’s. So when I saw that he has written another book, Total Intimacy, I ordered it immediately. This shorter book on romance looks at the subject of marital intimacy from different angles. It stresses the importance of friendship and emotional connection as well as sexual love. This is more of a ‘how to’ book and again led to some very good discussions for Deb and I – another one to add to your reading list.
You don’t have to go to the South of France to spend time reading and investing in your marriage – although if you can, I highly recommend it as a romantic place to visit! But I would encourage all of you who are married to be intentional about building a great relationship – read a book together, make time and space to discuss it and act on what you learn!
Posted by Steve Tibbert
15th June 2017
Yesterday morning I read a powerful article by Kay Warren. It is an open, honest and deeply moving account of the difficulties she and her husband Rick have encountered in their marriage. She does not shy away from describing the challenges they faced; nor does she underplay the hard work needed to ensure that their marriage did not stay in a place of pain and disappointment. Their determination to work at and build their relationship means that they can now say with certainty they are “the best thing that has ever happened to each other”.
I find myself wondering why testimonies such as this are so powerful. I believe it is because they are not afraid to say that marriage can be hard - that a happy, successful marriage does not happen by chance, but by each person being determined to work at the relationship. I believe that when a couple as successful and high profile as Kay and Rick Warren have the courage to share their story and admit that their relationship has not always been perfect, it gives the rest of us permission to admit that yes, we too have experienced challenges in our marriages. I believe it gives us courage and faith to work on our relationships and not live in denial if there are problems.
Like most young couples, Deb and I experienced difficulties in the early years of our marriage. We had challenges in our love life, our communication, how we dealt with conflict and the expectations we had each brought into the relationship. And over the course of nearly 28 years we have had to keep on talking, learning, growing, apologising and forgiving. It takes work – it does not just happen – but although it has been painful at times, it means that we too can say “we are the best thing that has ever happened to each other”.
Our years in pastoral ministry have confirmed that our experience is pretty normal – most couples will encounter challenges in marriage. It is with this in mind that Deb and I host a marriage enrichment seminar each year called Sex, Romance and God. The morning aims to help each of us understand and learn to love our partner better. This year, it is happening on Saturday 24th June, 9.45am to 1.00pm, at our Catford site - further details here. Whether you’ve been married for one month or several decades, the seminar is an excellent opportunity to invest in your marriage.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
27th April 2017
Our teaching pastor, Andrew Wilson, has been involved in making a fantastic video about marriage. In it he demonstrates how “this is about that”, how marriage between a husband and wife is a metaphor for Christ’s relationship with the church. He explains what the apostle Paul means in Ephesians 5 when he draws a parallel between marriage and the Christian Gospel. The video is beautifully shot and produced – it is well worth taking three minutes out of your day to watch it.
This Sunday Deb and I will be speaking on marriage, something we always enjoy doing. And we will also be speaking at the first night of this year’s Marriage Course, which starts next Tuesday evening. This is an outstanding course for any married couples who wish to enrich their relationship. We have just a few places left, so you will need to reserve a place quickly if you plan to attend.
Also, we have another date for the diary: Deb and I will be speaking again at the ’Sex, Romance and God’ seminar on Saturday 24th June. This is a morning seminar designed for married couples who want to understand more about sex and romance in the context of Christian marriage. It’s always a fun morning, so if you’re married, why not check your diaries and book yourselves in.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
9th February 2017
One of the greatest challenges of leading a large church is coping with the sheer volume of pastoral news. In any given week, I will hear about numerous situations among our community at King’s, some good and perhaps a cause for celebration, others more difficult and occasionally tragic. Just yesterday, I congratulated friends on the safe arrival of a grandchild, received an email telling me that a young man has lost his faith and had a discussion in our elders’ meeting around the complexities of trying to help the many new people joining us who are struggling with relationship breakdown.
By far the biggest presenting problem on the King’s pastoral list is couples with marriages under pressure, particularly those in cross-cultural marriages. It is one of the reasons Deb and I continue to take part in leading our Marriage Course each year, and why I regularly address the subject of marriage on Sundays. I am very fortunate to be married to the love of my life, and as the years go by (we have been married nearly 28 years) we are enjoying and appreciating one another more and more. But one thing I know: a marriage is built over years. Tim and Kathy Keller, in their outstanding book, The Meaning of Marriage, describe the marriage relationship as “a deep oneness that develops when two people, speaking the truth in love to one another, journey together to the same horizon.” A healthy marriage does not just happen by chance, but is the result of intentionally learning how to communicate well and to understand and appreciate your differences. As I said on Sunday, sometimes you have to sit down together and talk things through.
Pastors and spouses face additional challenges with the blur of boundaries between work, church and friendship. That is why we take all our elders, pastors and senior operational team away for a weekend once a year, so that we can invest in this fantastic group of people. We held our most recent weekend just recently and on this occasion, Brian and Jo Watts gave us a masterclass in how differing personalities impact communication in marriage, through the lens of Myers-Briggs. To those of you who know the Myers-Briggs model, I am an ESTJ married to an INFP – definitely a case of opposites attracting! Understanding these differences in our personalities has helped us hugely in our marriage.
If you are married, I would like to encourage you to do The Marriage Course, a series of eight sessions, plus one Saturday morning seminar, designed to help any married couple strengthen their relationship. Each evening consists of a romantic meal for two, a short talk on subjects such as Communication, Handling Conflict and Good Sex, and time to discuss as a couple. There is no group discussion, and you do not need to disclose anything about your relationship to anyone else. We will be running our next course at King’s after Easter and details will be available nearer the time. And if you are not yet married but are dating, engaged or perhaps living together, I would highly recommend our one-day seminar Relationship Matters, designed to help couples build a strong relationship based on Biblical principles. Our next course is on Saturday 8th April on the Downham site.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.