Marriage 911: The First Phone Call

Marriage 911 logo on a red background
Marriage 911
The church is ready. Your mentor team is trained. And you've just had a couple request a Marriage 911 mentor. Now what?

If Marriage 911 is an emergency room for couples in crisis, then a quick response is necessary. At Focus on the Family, we’ve learned that by the time a couple in your church reaches out for help, their marriage is near the breaking point. And when they call for help, they need it right away. So, when a couple asks for a mentor, here’s how your team should respond.

Marriage 911 Lead Mentor Responsibilities

The Marriage 911 lead mentor couple makes the first phone call or contact with the couple in crisis. If you are a lead mentor, follow this process:

Call the crisis couple within 24 hours of receiving the request. When you call, keep these three things in mind:

  • Always pray before calling. Ask God to guide you during the conversation so that you can listen and understand the need.
  • Set boundaries. Have your female lead call the wife while the male lead calls the husband. While it may feel “old fashioned,” remember that couples in crisis are looking for someone — sometimes anyone — who will listen and help. The male/male and female/female connections provide safeguards for the mentors and the couple in crisis.
  • Respond to inquiries twice. If there is no answer either time, wait for the couple to call back. If the couple doesn’t respond after the second phone call, don’t try to talk them into being in the program. Marriage 911 doesn’t work unless the couple takes the initiative. But continue to pray for them. In some cases, couples have returned calls a year after their initial request.

Require both the husband and wife to commit to Marriage 911. The mentoring request isn’t official until both spouses agree to the 16-week mentoring program. Spouses must show initiative and willingness to commit to the program.

Discuss childcare and intake information. Childcare is a necessity. Marriage 911 is a time for both spouses to focus on their marriage without distraction. Also, during this initial conversation, use the intake form (included in the Marriage 911 Mentor Training Handbook) to gather information to share (confidentially) with the assigned mentor couple.

Assign a mentor couple. Once the couple in crisis commits to the 16-week program, assign a couple to work with them.

Ask mentor couples to call the crisis couple within 24 hours of receiving the assignment. Mentors can set up an introductory meeting with the couple, discuss program expectations, and give out the Marriage 911 workbooks.

Mentor Responsibilities

After mentors are assigned a couple, remind them of the need to call within 24 hours. Remember, Marriage 911 is an emergency room for couples in crisis. Response time matters.

Ask your mentors to do the following:

  • Set up a time and place to meet. Meet in public places, not homes.
  • Remind couples of their commitment. Don’t skip meetings unless there is an emergency.
  • Keep notes on all meetings. Track the crisis couple’s progress and contact lead mentors if there are any concerns about domestic violence, addictions, or suicidal tendencies.

Encourage mentors to provide feedback so that the Marriage 911 program continues to meet the needs of couples in your church.

About Marriage 911

Research from Communio and the Barna Group shows that — regardless of denomination — 24 percent of married couples who attend church regularly are struggling in their marriage. Many churches lack a game plan to help crisis couples.

Marriage 911 is a 16-week mentoring program designed for the local church. The content is biblically based and built on the concepts taught in Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored marriage intensives. The Marriage 911 curriculum will be available in the Focus on the Family online store in July 2023.

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