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August 12, 2019 9:19 am
This week on Family Policy Matters, NC Family brings you Part 1 of a 2-part show with J.P. De Gance, Founder and President of Communio, an organization that works to equip communities and churches to strengthen marriages, families, and faith. De Gance speaks with NC Family Communications Director Traci DeVette Griggs about how Communio operates and what it is doing differently to strengthen marriages and limit divorces.
Family policy matters and engaging and informative weekly radio show and podcast produced by the North Carolina family policy Council hi this is John Ralston, presidency, family, and were grateful to have you with us for this week's program is our prayer that you will be informed and encouraged and inspired by what you hear on family policy matters and that you will flow better equipped to be a voice of persuasion for family values in your community, state and nation, and now here's our house to family policy matters Tracy to veterans. Thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters. While it may not be apparent on the face that we all benefit when marriage is an institution, a strong and we all pay the price. When this institution begins to falter. According to research married people live longer, report higher levels of overall satisfaction better overall mental health. Their children do better in school, and the list goes on and I will good marriages make strong communities. So when marriages break down so the logic would follow. Do our communities will I guess today is a man who decided he wanted to do something tangible and effective to make a difference for the families and communities that are being devastated by divorce in 2014 JP to cancel along with a team of marriage experts and philanthropists launch the nation's largest privately funded marriage strengthening program into ball County, Florida. The program's combination of modern diagnostic and marketing strategies help the counties divorce rate plummet 28% in just two years will JP joins us today to talk about how they did that, and what lessons they've learned JP to Gantz. Welcome to family policy matters will thank you so much for having me excited to be here will first of all, the issue of divorce and healthy marriages is huge and perhaps overwhelming for anyone who might feel called to help in that arena.
So what made you think you might actually be able to make a difference in the high divorce rate in your own community. Will you know my background was in public policy and working in campaigns and in so many ways. I started to see that the things that I was try to fix in the public policy process were really so much driven by the breakdown of the family and the breakout of marriage really looked around and didn't see the kind of strategy that is put into winning SATA campaign or ballot initiative or a fight in the state capital.
I just didn't see the same strategy and discipline going into working in the cultural space of trying to strengthen marriages and families and I got really interested about 2013 and the personal level, it became really important to me those in my family there were some challenges that one of my siblings was experiencing in my wife and I were asked to taken for my siblings, kids, and we did and it was through, that I started on a person will start to experience what really happens when kids lose the day-to-day presence of their mom and dad and it really became passionate about trying to to do something about it in a more businesslike and more deliberate, strategic weapons, so I know that the federal government has been taking on this project for the past decade or so and that has been met with very limited success. Why is it that the current approaches to strengthening marriages and limiting divorces are not working. The big reason we've concluded is that the Fed lacked the ability to really love and churches are uniquely able to love now when you jump into a lot of the advantages of churches have over federal programs federal programs frequently have to be run by some sort of secularly branded local community based marriage, nonprofits, or at least they have to advertise themselves in some way in the programs have to be delivered in some way that puts absent church, and the challenger. That is, you frequently lose access to volunteers to deliver and you frequently lose distribution channels that churches have advantages in accessing essentially at what point do people go to an organization they've never heard of to get help.
I don't know that they need and that really sums up the challenge of the feds have an and why their cost to serve in the merit federal marriage program is north of $5000 a person and we were able to get folks for programs and of all that, under $45 a person. Okay so tell us what you doing you've Artie explained that you guys love and of course the church can love. So what else that what you do differently to different ways.
One is starting with the diagnostic right weight when you send out a pastor. We develop predictive analytics tools that help our church diagnose what's going on in the congregation and in the committee around them. So, for instance predictive analytics firms have for years created models for things like understanding of swing voter super voter for a particular candidate.
We asked the data scientists to create models that were actually more useful for ministry show a model that would be highly predictive of whether or not someone would get divorced was one of the models we had created, and then be able to sit down and help better understand how many of those folks live within a five-mile radius of their campus. All of a sudden that becomes. For more deeply personal to the pastor than the abstract understanding that marriage is important. We all know it's important, it becomes real and tangible. When you know that 5212 individuals within a five-mile radius have a high predictive score for having a marriage you need and have kids under the age of 10.
All of a sudden, that that's real and tangible and knowing how many of those folks might be in their congregation is sort of an aggregate. That's incredibly important and then being able to help a church reach out, develop a game plan ministry game plan to serve those folks and then take the next step of being able to use these 21st century tools to run a digital outreach campaign to invite the men to something that's going on about church. So now are helping the church provide direct value to folks who need it in terms of helping their marriage listening to family policy matters weekly radio show and podcast of the North Carolina family policy Council.
This is just one of the many ways in seizing and educating citizens across Mr. Alana about policy issues that impact families. Our vision is to create a state a nation where God is on religious freedom sources families were in life's cherished more information about his family and how you can help us to achieve this incredible vision for our state and nation. Visit our website and see family.org and see family.org and be sure to sign up to receive our email updates, action alerts, and of course our flagship publication family North Carolina magazine. We also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and right so let's unpack this a little bit. You said there is a model that can actually predict who is likely to get a divorce. Can you give us some specifics as to what that is term predictive analytics is strictly misunderstood. This is not minority report. Okay, it's predictive not determinative. And so, in the case of marriage we acquired a list of 40,000 folks who had recently been divorced in the last 12 months and then when modeling works is you scoop up the broad consumer product data folks and look at the very people today who looks like the folks we got divorce last year that forms the model that applied to the population and those who fit with an 80% or higher match rate. That model fit into the score for a marriage and need and it's sort of the same processes used over and over again by business, politics, and the number of industries. So then once you identify the number of people that may be in a community that are vulnerable to divorce then what so how do you know even what to do to intervene. Now I can tell you which we paid a lot of dumb taxes. Try to answer that question. One of the ways we thought. You do it. This is not the way to do it. We thought okay let's just start a marriage program seven-week 10 week class, and let's tell these people about it and like the men folks are listening probably understand why that wouldn't work. The biggest reason when work is original relationship to those people in the church and a 10 week program is a high barrier of entry for a full weekend retreat of high barrier of entry. So what we began to do was help churches architect ongoing ministry strategy that draws us folks have something fun that might be happening at that we would help the church organize a date night about bringing the comedian Christian comedian where you leave and and you feel really good about marriage and inexpensive for or free childcare is provided so so parents with kids.
That's a big deal when you have kids under the age of 11, getting a babysitter's can be expensive and a lot of markets so church thinking through an offer to invite folks were where they can have a good night together and then you don't think that event is a one off event.
Too many times churches think that is an annual activity or a once and done activity we work with that church to think of it in terms of the launch point for continuum of ministry and so there was a Lutheran Church in Arizona.
We worked with that use these events three times a year would draw these folks in who were at risk in the community and then they would also market to their church membership and then at those three time in your event you were told you what we do this every month were having a fun date night next month. Come and join us next month they would have to spend as much money at that those follow-up repeat events in terms of marketing and outreach, and it was at those repeat monthly events that they were invited into take a next step, which was joined a life group where they would actually go through skills-based marriage content to improve their relationships and so if you think of each of those steps as the first step is getting your foot in the door. Meeting people and finding out the folks in the church are actually fun and great people to meet in the next epithet monthly step then that next up was was the skills-based, ongoing programming and then at that stage.
If you've taken those three steps. It's a shortcut to becoming a member of that church and so those churches saw saw growth as a result that Lutheran Church became the fastest growing Lutheran Church in the country grow by 21% over two years. That is really interesting series reinforcing a really good thing in the community and you're also doing we supposed to do as a church and inviting people in and evangelizing so that school so talk a little more you you got into some of the will of what's in the ministry and outreach complement. More about the content of the programs content key part of the content. It has to be skills-based, so often times churches church. My thing but where I have a sermon on our tour we talk about it all will come in and some will hear talk talk is a little bit like showing up in watching Wimbledon. It is not initially make a better tennis player in second in a series make you a better spouse and so short a core element of content should be that skills-based there's other key ingredients of content should certainly help with developing communication skills shared in mutual expectations of a lifelong marriage are really important to the content helps to establish conflict resolution is another one that is obviously a few other key factors but those are just some of them in the content but we learn community know does not offer create content. We didn't think that was where we need to add add value. A lot of times the best content sits on all of our bookshelves not being consumed and what we realized where we can add a lot of value is is serving churches with insights on what's going on in their congregation and that a minister game plan to leverage his insights to reach new people strengthen marriages, then we consult with the church to figure what what's right content for them. We work now with 27 different publishers and content from singles that warrants itself towards healthy dating and relationship habits, marriage preparation, marriage enrichment course marriage marriage crisis we did a survey with the Barna group and 94% of pastors reported on that on that survey that they do counseling for couples in crisis with 57% of them said that they feel either unqualified or only somewhat qualified to do so so so we know in each of the areas of marriage ministry.
There's a big there's a big gap for the church talk a bit more about that gap what you mean that what kind again. Yeah, I'm glad you asked that we really want to try to understand understand. Sometimes people so we might my church does that really well and there's a thought that that that's the case, and certainly there are individual churches that do, but on the whole. What we found and in the study that we commissioned with Barna was that 72% of churches lacked a subset marriage ministry 80% of evangelical churches. 82% of Catholic parishes and 94% of mainline churches reported spending zero dollars on marriage ministry so that same group of churches. Overall, 94% of them reported having ongoing youth ministry and 77% reported paying someone to run the youth ministry. That model might've worked decades ago when the culture was more supportive and reinforcing of the vocation of marriage that's no longer the case and I think we can no longer assume that couples know how to actualize a healthy relationship and live the biblical principles marriage been listening to policy matters. You enjoyed the program and plan to join us again for to show to listen to the show online inspired families across the website family.org