Shadow Mountain tackles marriage with 'I Promise' seminar


EL CAJON, Calif. — Thirty-five percent of both married born-again Christians and married adults who are not born-again have experienced a divorce, according to a study by the Barna Group.

It is this reality that led Marcial Felan, pastor of Family Ministries at Shadow Mountain Community Church, to contact the Smalley Relationship Center.

"God has given me a burden to see an end to divorce and to divorce-proof the church," Felan said.

The two-day "I Promise" Marriage Seminar by the father-son team, Drs. Gary and Greg Smalley, is going to be held Sept. 28 and 29 at Shadow Mountain. More than 200 people attended the May 22 information session and 1,800 of the available 2,200 seats in the sanctuary have already been sold. There are also 500 overflow seats available for a lower charge.

The "I Promise" marriage seminar was developed based on the same principles as the "I Promise" book. There is also a supplemental DVD, which the Purpose Driven Church ministry has developed.

While Shadow Mountain has never hosted a Smalley marriage seminar, the church is not unfamiliar with the need and various ways to provide a support system for a marriage.

The family ministries department at the El Cajon church ministers to couples throughout the year through pre-marital counseling, a marriage makeover series, short-term counseling, a dynamic marriage class and a foundations in marriage small group are just some of the avenues by which they minister.

"We hope this marriage seminar will start a major revival in San Diego County and we hope this marriage revival will jumpstart a coalition that will continue to strengthen marriages and families ong after the seminar," Felan said. "We want to equip churches who desire to have a marriage and family ministry in their church."

Jeff and Breena Lebret have been married for two-and-a-half years and are members of Shadow Mountain. The Lebrets attended an April "I Promise" Marriage Seminar in San Jose, Calif. with Pastor Felan. They went to get an idea of what the conference was going to be like in order to be better equipped to handle it when it comes to their church in September.

Breena Lebret is a Marriage and Family Therapist with Family Focus Christian Counseling. She noted that the conference was good for marriages in all stages.

"I think it's real foundational material," Breena said. "It starts out with personal foundational growth and then moves toward the relational aspect dealing with communication, listening, and conflict resolution. He's got a real good model to show patterns of conflict and then shows how to get out of those patterns."

Six levels of communication
The seminar states that it will discuss, "The six levels of communication (most couples only get to the second and third level)," "how to improve your relationship with God as a couple," and "core promises that increase your security and marriage satisfaction," among other things.

"Reducing 40 years of research into five promises" is the task that has been accomplished according to the Smalley Relationship Center.

Feedback from fellow pastors who have hosted the seminar already has been positive.

According to the Smalley Web site, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the Purpose Driven Church and Life books, said, "Security is everything in a marriage. It's what every woman wants and what every man dreams of: a caring, secure marriage where each partner serves the other with equal love and faithfulness. This seminar presents the essential ingredients of a secure, fulfilling, Christ-centered relationship."

The seminar is $75 per couple for early registration, and $90 per couple after Sept. 4.

For more information, or to register, visit