Top-Notch Premarital Resources

If you’re looking for valuable material to aid in those important premarital conversations with church members, consider these resources, recommended by those serving alongside you. Unless otherwise indicated, you can order them from NextStep Resources. And check out our series of articles on “Before They Say I Do: Joining couples in marriage.”

Recommended by Greg Braly, pastor of family and children, New Hope (Minn.) Church:

Marriage Mentoring: 12 Conversations,” by Dr. Ed Gray — “Marriage Mentoring fosters the growth of couples, not the ‘repair or counseling’ of couples. It is intended to be a nurturance model for marital health.”

Visionary Marriage: Capture a God-sized vision for your marriage, by Rob Rienow and Amy Rienow — “Marriage is more than the house, the kids and the dog; it is about creating a family vision for being used by God.”

Recommended by Miles Ahrens, senior pastor, Trinity EFC, Woodbridge, Conn.:

Preparing for Marriage: Discover God’s plan for a lifetime of love (book with questions and separate leader’s guide), by David Boehi, Brent Nelson, Jeff Schulte and Lloyd Shadrach from FamilyLife — “It’s a great blend of being biblical and covering practical issues. And it works with people coming from different levels of Christian maturity. Giving the couple assignments to work on outside of the counseling time helps them work on practical communication skills on their own turf, not just putting on a good show for me.”

Recommended by Scott Connolly, pastor of spiritual formation, Faith EFC, Grand Forks, N.D.:

The Sexual Man, by Archibald Hart, and Secrets of Eve, by Dr. Hart and daughter Dr. Catherine Hart Weber, with Debra Taylor — “I often recommend that the woman read The Sexual Man and the man read Secrets of Eve. These very thorough books will likely prove eye-opening to many and help dispel common male/female misconceptions about human sexuality.”

Marriage: Life After I Do,” Convergence DVD in which Donald Miller interviews Dan Allender and Tremper Longman — “I like it because it has a certain salty or gutsy flavor to it that can help young couples step back from some of their idealistic expectations and face some of the important challenges of marriage. I started giving a copy to any couple I do premarital counseling with, and have them view it together as homework.”

Recommended by Gerhard (Gary) T. deBock, senior pastor, Trinity Fellowship EFC, Big Rapids, Mich.:

The Judgment of Charity (book, learners’ manual and mentor couple’s manual), by Gerhard T. deBock — “These Martial Mentoring materials allow mature couples to mentor younger couples (both pre- and post-wedding) with supervision from the pastor or qualified counselor. The main focus of the materials is to establish the essentials of communication, conflict resolution and forgiveness. Then we apply those principles to the practicalities of expectations, in-laws, finances, etc. All the Marriage Mentoring materials are available online for free.”

Recommended by Kevin Sorensen, pastor, Cornerstone EFC, Rochester, Minn.:

When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the power of the gospel for marriage, by Dave Harvey — “The author shows marriage for what it truly is: two sinners coming together and committing themselves to being a living reflection of Christ and His bride, the Church. I’m convinced it’s a good remedy for our ‘marriage is a fantasy’-saturated culture today. While knocking that unrealistic notion down, it builds marriage upon the bedrock of the gospel of God’s grace.”

What Did You Expect? Redeeming the realities of marriage, by Paul David Tripp — “While intended for married couples, this will help the couple establish biblical expectations.”

Recommended by Bruce Fischer, lead pastor, EFC of Thief River Falls, Minn.:

Intimate Issues: Twenty-one questions Christian women ask about sex, by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus — “Brides comment that once they start reading it they can’t put it down. Due to its descriptive details, I recommend the groom read it after the honeymoon.”

Finding the Love of Your Life, by E-Harmony guru Neil Clark Warren — “Actually this should be mandatory reading for every high-school and college student. No-brainer approach to eliminating marriage crushers from the get-go.”

Recommended by Murray Pickard, member, St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, St. Louis, Mo.:

The Total Money Makeover: A proven plan for financial fitness, by Dave Ramsey (along with the Financial Peace University workshop) — “Ramsey’s book provided us with the same financial language, as well as instruction on being one (as a couple) with our finances. It’s probably the one thing my wife and I both agree on that we wish had been required as part of our pre-marital counseling.”

Recommended by David E. Carlson, senior pastor, Bethany EFC, Madison, Wisc.:

I Married You, by Walter Trobisch — “It reads like a story as it tells of his trip to Africa to give messages on marriage to the churches there. Woven in are stories from Walter’s marriage, from that of the host pastor and wife, and from others who speak to him. I like that it works across cultures, so the biblical text is not burdened with a lot of American cultural baggage.”

Recommended by John Kupitz, youth pastor, United EFC, Klamath Falls, Ore.:

Singleness, Marriage, and the Will of God, by Robin Maxson — “This is by a fellow EFCA pastor, who spends a significant amount of time addressing the purpose of marriage, a very good section on the problem of Christians living together prior to marriage, and a paradigm-altering view of singleness as a legitimate (and sometimes preferred) state, which tends to get neglected by the church. This one is the absolute best I’ve ever seen.”

Recommended by Steve Hopper, associate pastor, Hillside Community Church, Porterville, Calif.:

Before You Live Together: Will living together bring you closer or drive you apart? by David Gudgel — “Excellent treatment from a pastor’s heart written to a couple either living together or contemplating that move.”

How Can I Be Sure? Questions to ask before you get married, by Bob Phillips — “Each chapter contains questions for the couple to answer and talk about with each other, then when we meet, I ask, “How did you answer…?” about certain ones.

Recommended by Jeff Ryder, senior pastor, First EFC, McKeesport, Pa.:

Preparing for Marriage God’s Way, by Wayne Mack — “It is thoroughly biblical, comprehensive and in a workbook format with built-in post-marital meetings.”

Recommended by Carl Hetler, associate pastor, City Chapel (EFCA), South Bend, Ind.:

The Five Love Languages: How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate, by Gary Chapman — “This book has been beneficial for my marriage and advising others as well. It’s a helpful part of the communication process and skill building.”

Recommended by Paul Johnson, pastor of community life, Lakewood EFC, Baxter Minn.:

Prepare/Enrich” relationship inventory and assessment tool — “I have used this tool for almost 10 years. When I do premarital counseling, I work to get the couple talking to each other. The Prepare-Enrich assessment has been a great tool to bring out many important discussion areas.”

Recommended by Omar Zook, pastor for care ministries, Evangelical Free Church of Hershey (Pa.); licensed clinical social worker; adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College:

“The Promise of a Lifetime: A pre-marital and marriage mentoring workbook,” by Omar Zook — “We developed this at our church to combine a theological overview with some more practical aspects of marriage, including several chapters dealing with remarriage and step families. Other churches in our area have also adopted it.”

Other recommended resources:

  • Marriage: Sex in the service of God, by Christopher Ash
  • Love and Respect: The love she most desires; the respect he desperately needs, by Emerson Eggerichs
  • Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And how you can make yours last, by John Gottman
  • Debt Proof Your Marriage: How to achieve financial harmony, by Mary Hunt
  • Rocking the Roles: Building a win-win marriage, by Robert Lewis and William Hendricks
  • Sheet Music: Uncovering the secrets of sexual intimacy in marriage, by Kevin Leman (“Some of it is appropriate for pre-marriage, but much should be saved for after the wedding.”)
  • The Gift of Sex: A guide to sexual fulfillment, by Clifford L. Penner and Joyce J. Penner
  • Sacred Marriage: What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy, by Gary Thomas
  • Date or Soulmate: How to know if someone is worth pursuing in two dates or less, by Neil Clark Warren
  • Love Life for Every Married Couple, by Ed and Gloria Okes Perkins
  • Communication: Key to your marriage, by Norman Wright
  • Remarriage Success,” DVD by Ron Deal
    Taylor Johnson Temperament Analysis
  • A Celebration of Sex: A guide to enjoying God’s gift of sexual intimacy, by Douglas Rosenau
  • Cultivating a Healthy Marriage,” two-part message by Tim and Kathy Keller

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