My wife, Susan, and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary this year. During our marriage, we’ve been blessed with five children, two that we were honored to adopt.
When we were first married, Susan and I dreamed of building a strong marriage and being great parents. We were also involved in our community and saw way too many people struggling in their marriages and with their children. A passion grew inside of us to help other people– to be an advocate for the family. We soon heard about a group of people that wanted to start an organization to help families, and we began meeting together. Shortly after, I was asked to lead this new venture. So in 1991, I wound down my career as an attorney and we launched a brand new non-profit organization now called Family First. Through Family First, we started All Pro Dad, iMom, and the Family Minute radio broadcast. Over the last 25 years, it has been our mission to provide parenting, marriage, and relational truth to help people love their family well and give them greater hope for the future.
As we think about the future, I’d like to take just a moment to share my dream with you. Why? I want this to be our shared dream. And I want your dream for your marriage, children, and grandchildren to come true. To do that, I’d like to answer 3 questions:
- Why do we exist?
- Where do we want to go?
- How are we going to get there?
Why do we exist?
In 1991, the face of the family looked a bit different. People struggled in parenting and in their marriages, but not like today. Out of wedlock births weren’t so pervasive. Marriage was valued more highly. Pornography was only available in stores.
Fast forward 25 years…
- Pornography sites are viewed more each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. The porn beast is killing souls and ravaging relationships.
- Nearly 44% of adults have cohabitated. Marriage rates are plummeting and cohabitation is skyrocketing.
- 40% of all children today are born out of wedlock. More and more children experience fatherlessness from the first day of their life.
- 24 million children live without their biological father. It is the most significant issue of our day!
Really think about these statistics. They represent real people with real problems, experiencing real pain. People are struggling with how to love. We are here to serve those in need by providing relational advice and encouragement that will help them love one another well.
Where do we want to go?
Can you imagine a place where people really understand what love is all about? Love will never be perfected in this life. But we can move toward a place where things are more like what they’re supposed to be. We can pursue a destination where:
- Every child experiences the love of a mom and dad.
- Every mom and dad is engaged in the life of their child.
- Marriage is valued and children are born inside, not outside of marriage.
- Marriages don’t die, don’t just survive, but thrive.
That’s the place we are heading for the next 25 years.
And I believe that if love rules your relationships and fills your home, this dream and the dreams you have for your family will come true for you too. [Tweet This] And, as a result, the face of your family will reflect contentment, satisfaction, peace, joy, and bright hope for the future.
How are we going to get there?
People are searching online for help for how to love, but internet searches can deliver bad information that can damage relationships and families. That’s why we’ve developed a strategy to elevate the truth online and on land, truth that helps people love well. There are 3 objectives we would like to accomplish by the year 2020: Increase Visibility, Create a Compelling Experience, and Provide Personalized Care.
- Increase Visibility: We are thrilled to have you here at Mark Merrill.com, but there are many in need of our content who have not been reached. Our goal is to attract new people through social media, digital advertising, and search engine optimization so more people are consuming the truth. We plan to increase to 16,000,000 content consumers online and 3,000,000 social media connections.
- Create a Compelling Experience: Our desire is not only to attract new people but to provide a compelling experience so they return often and subscribe to our daily content. It’s our goal to increase to 220,000 email subscribers and develop targeted content each month so, at every age and stage of life, our content is meeting you where you are.
- Provide Personalized Care: Each month, hundreds of people share their hurts with us, and we are privileged to engage and pray with them online. However, we also want to connect people on land, face to face in their communities through our All Pro Dad’s Day school program, our All Pro Dad Father and Kids Experiences in NFL stadiums, and an exciting new community engagement initiative.
Our goal is to have All Pro Dad’s Day chapters in every state and in 3,000 schools reaching 195,000 dads and children each month. Our sights are also set on hosting 16 All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experiences a year. We plan to develop 10 communities nationwide participating in Family First’s community engagement, similar to the one you can see in the Cedar Hill Story video.
Over the last 25 years, it has been our highest honor to help so many families, and we are grateful that our reach is growing exponentially. We are excited for the future and the big dreams in front of us. Thank you for being a part of our family’s dream!