Married Life

We want to change the culture and expectations of marriage both inside the church and outside in the world. Join us as we explore what marriage means and how your marriage can beat the statistics and bring hope to the world.

Scroll down to view the latest entries on our blog, view upcoming classes and events, and more!

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Upcoming Married Life Events


Claudia Mitchell

Claudia Mitchell

Women's & Married Lifeoffice: 812.334.0206, x270
Elsie Ellsworth

Elsie Ellsworth

Marriage Coordinator & Premarital Counseling Coordinatoroffice: 812.334.0206 x 232
Elizabeth Moore

Elizabeth Moore

Business Office Assistantoffice: 812.334.0206, x272
Maggie Mobley

Maggie Mobley

Women's Ministry Assistantoffice: 812.334.0206x204

Married Life Team

Brian & Jill Bailey

Brian & Jill Bailey

Married Life Class Leaders
Scott & Suzanne Fuson

Scott & Suzanne Fuson

Smart Stepfamily Leaders
Ken & Claudia Mitchell

Ken & Claudia Mitchell

Tobin & Janet Wingard

Tobin & Janet Wingard

Marriage Mentoring
Jeff & Erika Barnhill

Jeff & Erika Barnhill

From the Blog

Big Night Out
May 10, 2018

The Big Night Out is a fun evening for face-to-face, intentional time with your spouse. We always focus on a practical marriage tool; this time, our attention was on the legacy we are creating together.  

As a team, we loved the movie “UP” as an image to float around. We even tried to raffle off a balloon ride! The story is sweet. Carl, a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. After tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away on grand adventure. But curmudgeonly-Carl's worst nightmare comes true when he discovers… Russell, a stowaway aboard the balloon-powered house. SPOILER ALERT - the floating house is the fulfillment of a shared dream Carl has with his late wife, Ellie. Here, at the end of his life, Carl was taking the adventure of floating a house as his legacy!

A legacy is more than an obituary. Isn’t it funny to think that a person’s life can be summed up in a few sentences? While an obituary “reports", legacy is our pattern of living: daily choices that add up to our lifetime. 

We showed the video clip of Carl and Ellie starting their "club". We love asking “how your club started” question, because it reminds us of the energy and hope that beginning a relationship brings. Inviting Marilyn and Dr. Dwain Illman, who've been "in a club" for 50 years to our Big Night Out was a joy. We asked them for wisdom... it was sweet to see the honesty and love they have for each other.

As a church, we need the wisdom, prayer and community of each other because  —  marriage is hard! Jeff and Kristi Huston were amazingly transparent about the reality of the seasons we all move through because the good and the bad all shape our legacy. A real love story is full of flat tires, home repairs, medical bills. The hardship of story drives us to confront the idealistic legacy that we dream of and forget when the hard seasons of life come.

Proverbs 16:9 - We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (NLT)

Final idea from the Big Night Out: the focus of the film "UP" is on Carl's life after Ellie. The legacy that he lives, once she’s gone is initially as a recluse, holding out against the world, keeping his home as a memorial, and talking to an absent wife... but there is an adventure still to have, and it’s bigger than Carl.

Carl thought his house on the top of Paradise falls WAS HIS LEGACY but he didn’t see was Russell in the background being impacted by HIS choices. Carl was leaving a legacy, impacting Russell’s life. GOD IS WORKING through our lives painting a much bigger picture than we see. God at work is bigger than your marriage. And this is the beauty and the hope of the Gospel! 

In the New Testament, the book of Philippians is a joyful letter, but as an undercurrent, its writer, Paul, has a death sentence: he wrote from prison! In the face of his imminent ending, Paul speaks with sober authenticity and a confidence that only a forgiven person can speak of:

PHIL 3:12-13 — I know that I am not yet what God wants me to be. I haven’t reached that goal, but I keep moving toward it to make it mine because Christ made me and saved me for this. I know that I haven’t yet reached my goal, but there’s one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, 

The humility of Paul to say, “I know that I am not yet what God wants me to be… but I keep moving to make it mine” is just self-help WITHOUT the forgiveness and resurrection power of "because Christ made me and saved me for this.”

PHIL 3:13-14 — I keep my eyes focused on the goal so that I may one day win the prize that God has called me to receive through Christ in the life above.

This is the beauty of the adventure of your life and marriage.

From the Blog

Get to know Dr. John Trent
Sep 02, 2016

Dr. John Trent will host two seminars at Sherwood Oaks Bloomington East on Saturday, October 22. He'll also preach the next morning! Get to know a little more about Dr. Trent, then sign up for one of our seminars!

Dr. John Trent is the President and Founder of, a ministry dedicated to helping people build and strengthen relationships. He received his B.A. in psychology and religion from Texas Christian University, a Th.M. in Greek from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Counseling from the North Central Texas Federation of Colleges and Universities (a consortium program previously offered through North Texas State University, East Texas State University, and Texas Western University).

Recognized as an advocate for family values and building stronger relationships, Dr. John Trent is an award-winning author, passionate speaker, television and radio personality, dynamic teacher, and church and community leader. As the President and Founder of, Dr. Trent overseas a multifaceted ministry that specializes in small-group training, seminars, and radio programming that have a positive impact on family and corporate relationships alike. Since 2003, he has spoken to more than 60,000 people at churches across the United States through his “StrongFamilies in Stressful Times Seminar.” Furthermore, he has addressed more than half a million men at Promise Keepers Conferences, while being the main platform speaker at multiple seminars around the world including the prestigious 2005 YPO Global Leadership Conference held in Washington, D.C. He has greatly impacted various government and private corporations through his team-building workshops. Among the organizations he has trained are Chic-fil-A, Media Arts Corporation, Northwestern Insurance, The Walt Disney Corporation, Universal Studios, and both the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps.

In addition to his speaking engagements, Dr. Trent has also been heavily involved in personal church ministry (he is an ordained minister who has pastored two churches) and has been a featured guest on numerous radio and television programs. These include appearances on Insight for Living with Chuck Swindoll, Family Radio with Dennis Rainey, Prime Time with Moody Broadcasting, Focus on the Family with James Dobson, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Professionally, Dr. Trent is involved with multiple professional and honorary organizations and has taught for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS), and the American Marriage and Family Ministry (AMFM). He is a faculty member of Phoenix Seminary where he teaches marriage and family ministry courses and has been an Adjunct Professor at multiple schools including Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, and Liberty University. However, it is as an award-winning author that Dr. Trent has made the greatest impact.

In addition to being published in various periodicals and journals including The American Association of Christian Counselors Magazine and Christian Parenting Magazine (where he was a contributing columnist for 5 years), he is an internationally acclaimed writer. He has penned more than a dozen books and has been nominated for the ECPA’s Gold Medallion Award 17 times (he has won 14 Silver Medallions and 3 Gold Medallions). His works The Language of Love (which was an Angel Award Winner), The Treasure Tree (one of seven children’s books he has written), and The Blessing all won the prestigious book of the year awards. The Blessing alone has sold millions of copies and has been translated into nine different languages. His latest book release is Chasing Skinny Rabbits: What Leads You into Emotional and Spiritual Exhaustion . . . . and What Can Lead You Out by Thomas Nelson Publishing.

In early May 2014, Dr. John Trent was honored to accept this prestigious chair position within Moody Theological Seminary. He also currently serves as president and founder of the non-profit ministry, Strong Families where he serves and resources the family.  He is a coach and team builder for many different corporate organizations and regularly works with the United States military and their families. He and his wife Cindy live in Scottsdale, Ariz. with their two daughters, Kari and Laura.

From the Blog

Broken Together: Helping Marriages in Trouble
Aug 16, 2016

Is your marriage in trouble? Are you at the end of your rope and need help? We want to be there for you!

Marriage 911 is a first response program and gives hope to people who are currently in a marriage crisis. This Christ-centered 12 week program places the focus and energy on God’s healing power to help each spouse remain or become healthy and whole in the midst of crisis.

Contact Jim and Dee Witmer at 812.269.6360.

Meets as needed.

From the Blog

Coming up in Married Life Ministry
Jul 28, 2016

Can you believe that fall is just around the corner? Kids will be going back to school with either tears or cheers from their parents and school year routines will be up and running once more. Sherwood Oaks will kick off its fall programming on Wednesday, August 24 and Married Life Ministry has a full schedule of classes and events planned. Take a look at what we're offering this fall:

Safe House Study - If you are a parent to be, parent, or grandparent please join Brian and Jill Bailey beginning Sunday, September 11 for six weeks in the Fireside Room at 9:30am as we will take a deep dive into Dr. Joshua Straub's SAFE HOUSE material. We will explore how to practically create an emotionally safe home which is scientifically and Biblically linked to raising kids that live, love and lead well.

Couple Checkup - No one knows your relationship better than you. Take this opportunity to see where you stand as a couple right now, and learn how you can make your relationship even better.  You will each complete an on-line survey and the results will be complied to help you discover your strengths and areas for growth.  Contact Elizabeth Moore at to take the $35 assessment.  Class will be held in the Fireside Room at 9:30 from October 23 - November 20.

Early Married Life - Early married or recently engaged? Then we have a class just for you! Early Married Life centers around those just getting started on the journey of a lifetime.  God has a plan for your marriage, so let us help you develop that firm foundation.  Seventeen years of marriage and 4 kids later, we (Jeff and Erika) certainly don’t have all the answers, but do offer some time-honored principles in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.  We promise that if you don’t learn a single thing you will most certainly make connections with other Early Marrieds like you. We'll meet at 11:00am in room 363.

Big Night Out - Big Night Out is a night dedicated to married couples reconnecting with one another in a fun atmosphere. Our next Big Night Out will take place on Friday, September 30 from 6:30pm-8:30pm. Wear your flannel! We'll meet in the Fellowship Hall for this fall themed event. 

The Smart Stepfamily - This is a six week program specifically designed for married and soon-to-be remarried couples. We provide practical, realistic solutions to the spiritual and relational challenges that stepfamilies face. This class meets as needed. Interested? Contact Suzanne at .

Married Life e-Zine - Receive a man-friendly, mush-free email full of ideas and insights with go and do’s married people can actually go and do! Sign up to receive this monthly email at

From the Blog

Resources for Step-Families
Jul 06, 2016

Being a member of a step-family can have unique rewards and challenges. Sherwood Oaks offers a class just for parents in a blended family role.

Scott and Suzanne Fuson who lead the Married Life Ministry at Sherwood Oaks want to partner with step-families in a six week course titled The Smart Step-Family. This course meets on an as needed basis. For more information, contact .

And in the meantime, view this helpful resource online for survival tips about step-family life!

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