By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: August 2007
Pastor Ed Lindgren of Jesus Center conducts free marriage workshops every Thursday night. He displays a cartoon with the caption, “I know the grass isn’t greener, honey. I’m just looking for some weeds.”
“People need education to be doctors. They need extensive training. But people don’t need any education to be able to get married. There’s zero training required,” says Ed Lindgren, pastor of Jesus Center. Every Thursday since 2004, including Thanksgivings, Lindgren has been conducting marriage workshops to give Tulsans the training necessary to improve their marriages.
If you think your marriage could be better, even if you are not considering divorce, this workshop is for you. If you and your spouse have been previously trained in a marriage workshop and need a refresher course, this workshop is for you. If you are engaged or are thinking about getting married, this workshop is for you. “It’s for anybody who gets into their marriage and says, ‘Hey, I could use some help,’” says Lindgren.
Jesus Center’s marriage workshop is based on the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program, called PREP. “A few years ago, leaders in the state of Oklahoma had some of our universities do some research into what could be done to improve our state,” says Lindgren. “They discovered one factor that can be controlled to positively affect the economy, reduce the prison population and reduce the welfare rolls: the divorce rate. Divorce causes instant poverty for many mothers.”
“The state of Oklahoma partnered with the founders of PREP, a group of clinical psychologists from the University of Denver,” Lindgren informs. Oklahoma has become the leading state in the United States for marital training. It has trained over 2,000 leaders, and workshops have trained over 115,000 people. The psychologists from the University of Denver determined that the people who went through the training had 50 percent fewer divorces. Other states are catching on and following Oklahoma’s lead. As part of this initiative, a couple that attends any kind of premarital counseling gets their marriage license fee reduced from $50 to $5.
“No matter how good your marriage is, our workshop can make it better,” says Lindgren, who has the training and experience to back up his words. Lindgren received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas, and he earned his masters in theology from Oral Roberts University. He has been trained to lead PREP.
Lindgren practices what he preaches. In February of 2004, he and his wife attended one of the first PREP marriage workshops conducted in Tulsa. “It was good stuff,” he says. Lindgren has been married for over 30 years. “My marriage is better today than it ever was,” he says. “I know I can help people.”
After attending the first PREP workshop and the subsequent leadership training, Lindgren spent over 300 hours putting Jesus Center’s own workshop together. The workshop works for Christians and non-Christians. “Forgiveness works in a marriage whether you’re a Christian or not,” says Lindgren. “If you hold a grudge, you’re poisoning your marriage.” The marriage workshop is noninvasive and respects the privacy of each couple. “You don’t have to bare your soul,” says Lindgren.
Lindgren focuses on problem-solving techniques. “In counseling, you can help people resolve their immediate problems, and sometimes you can anticipate problems that might pop up two or three months down the road. But this is more than counseling. I want you to work together to solve your own problems and to be able to do that 10, 15, 25 years from now,” he says. “What works in my marriage might not work in your marriage. I’d rather teach you two how to work as a team. Genesis 2:24 says that a husband and wife become one flesh. I want you to become a team.”
Jesus Center’s marriage workshop is six weeks long. “If you only attend one two-hour session, you’ll get information that will help you,” says Lindgren. Couples who attend at least two sessions will be eligible to receive the marriage license discount.
Pastor Lindgren warmly invites you to stop by and give the marriage workshop a try. “Any marriage, whether it’s been three months or 30 years, will benefit,” says Lindgren. Jesus Center’s Free Marriage Workshop is held every Thursday of the year from 6 to 8 p.m.