Imagine this: You have a newly married couple in your parish who rarely attend Mass or participate in parish community. They recently got married in your parish. They begin to hit hurdles in their marriage that they didn’t anticipate: doubts, miscommunication, and tensions in cohabitation.
But it’s not just this one couple. It’s every couple married in the past five years that are wrestling with similar things, all within your purview.
How do you love these couples well? What would it look like to not just ease their tensions but show them what God has for them in their marriage? And how do we do that at scale?
It starts long before they run into tensions, and it doesn’t boil down to simply inviting them to a marriage retreat. At least not yet.
All relationships require trust, time, and being attuned to each other's needs. With our desire and heart for Tilma Platform to equip leaders to love and form resiliency at scale, we were looking for an accompaniment framework and structure to fit into that vision.
Developed by CCO and built on Sherry Weddell’s research, this accompaniment model articulates the thresholds leading to conversion, and the pathways of growth as an evangelist and disciple. This becomes the tool to best identify where someone is in their journey in order to know what they need and how to guide them deeper in their faith.
This model became critical to our understanding of how to utilize Tilma to extend and support in-person ministry accompaniment. Because of how well-known this model was within the Church, it would also be a model that would be universal and easy to adapt for whoever was on Tilma.
Digital communication can be a common first touch point when it comes to ministry. You send out an email, an announcement on the website, or a social media post to both lead-up and follow-up on an announcement.
But an email is more than an email, and an article is more than just an article. This touchpoint becomes the first impression and first opportunity to build trust. It’s a chance to begin telling someone, “we are here to help, care for you, and invite you into more.”
“With the general population indicating a warm and positive perception of Jesus, how is it possible that the U.S. is increasingly and swiftly becoming more post-Christian? The answer appears to lie in the dichotomy between how people perceive Jesus versus how they view his followers and the institutional Church…Among those of no faith, even Christian individuals are not viewed so favorably. Further, the data below shows why people may be reluctant to hold Christian beliefs, with the top reason today being “hypocrisy of religious people.” (Openness To Jesus Is Not The Problem, Barna Study, 2023)
From research, we start to see the importance of building trust and how we build trust. It’s not necessarily sitting around and waiting for people to come inside the church building. We need to follow Jesus’ model more closely—pursuing people (Matthew 10:5-8), meeting them in their homes (Luke 19:1-10), and caring for them well (John 13:1-17).
What does this mean? The first touch points matter.
When thinking through a parishioner's experience in church, there are opportunities to love them that don’t require a lot of time or effort for ministry teams, and speak to significant felt needs in someone’s like. Moments like a wedding or baptism, that a church is already involved in, create opportunities to come alongside people and accompany them in their season of life.
This can become the beginning of deep, thoughtful accompaniment.
Engaging the hearts of people for holistic formation requires the ability to lead them towards intentional ministry outcomes. Tilma enables diocesan teams to do this by giving them the ability to craft longer term ministry journeys by measuring what is working, and adjust accordingly.
The CCO model is a critical part in this execution, helping point where to take someone next. Are they a missional couple who is ready to open their home for Alpha? Are they a new dad who feels overwhelmed providing for their family? Pointing to where someone is in their faith journey helps know the best next steps.
We found that there were so many of these opportunities just waiting to be utilized. We mapped ministry journeys to what was already happening in the life of the parish like RCIA, baptisms, marriage prep, etc.
Let’s go back to the newlywed couple.
Serving them well in their stage of life means starting with what is most important to them: their new life together.
It could start by sending an email of congratulations when they get married. Next, send resources after nine months in to help address any tensions that might come up, and send stories of other couples who have navigated this well. Every touch point becomes an opportunity to love them well and prepare them for the end goal of that ministry journey: an invitation to a marriage retreat specifically for those in their first year of marriage.
Instead of sending out a one-off invitation to come to a retreat, you are in relationship with them already, caring for their needs, and helping them understand why a retreat is beneficial at all.
There are endless opportunities to be able to reach people, care for them in their life stage, and draw them into more. But how do we do it all? And who has time to do the work? That's where Tilma comes in. Our technology is built to make this easy for your leaders to manage themselves, build emails with great content, and start creating meaningful opportunities for their audience.
If you want to learn more about what this could look like in your diocese or parish, we encourage you to give us a call.